Fifty States

The Providence Journal, December 21, 2021

We have fifty states, why not use them? If people want to have guns, let them live in a gun state. If people don’t want abortion, let them live in a state where the law prohibits abortion. If people want universal pre-kindergarten, let them pay the tax, and live in a state where that is provided.

This country is at odds over so much, but maybe that’s because too much is decided at the national level. We’re not using our fifty states. We have fifty states, why not use them?

Particularly in the Northeast, with so many smart people, it seems obvious to us what the laws should be! Travel to other parts of the country, though, and it can be shocking how much they do not share our perspective. Instead of doing battle over all this, at the bloated federal level, where there is a thirty trillion-dollar deficit, why not cede some of this responsibility to the states? Again, we have these fifty states. Many of them barely have any people in them. Why not use them?

Liberals may not agree with conservatives on many of these issues. Democrats and Republicans are even worse! So why not agree to not be so disagreeable, and take advantage of the fifty states. Why not let Texas be a state that prohibits abortion to 12 weeks? Let the people who want to live like that move to Texas and live out their pro-life dreams? Let the pro-life movement run its course in Texas. If there are people in Texas right now, who don’t agree, then grandfather them in or offer incentives for them to move to neighboring New Mexico where the law might be different. Let the states run their course. Let the issues run their course.

The fundamentals of governing this country are too complicated. Many are saying that the U.S. is becoming unrecognizable because of its political differences, and that a second civil war is brewing in a few years. Gun sales are up! Trump may have unleased much of this, but the fundamentals of his America First politics are legitimate in the eyes of 74M voting Americans, with much of it focused on making things more governable, on both domestic and international issues.

Compromise has actually been dead in Washington for decades now. Biden and the Democrats may cite the founding fathers, and the Constitution, just as the Republicans do when they are in power, but this uncompromising dysfunction precedes Trump, and has been going on for the last thirty years and through five presidencies. Government shutdowns, and Capitol showdowns and riots are getting worse. There is too much to disagree on at the federal level.

Why not relieve the pressure that’s clearly brewing in this country, and let the fifty states have more autonomy and responsibility? Otherwise, why do we have these fifty states? The different states were supposed to be laboratories for different ideas, and different laws. Sure, slavery and civil rights were worth fighting over, but that doesn’t mean that absolutely every other issue has to be fought over, and decided in Washington, D.C.

The closest thing to the problem in Washington may be the progressive state of California. Long a beacon of tolerance and big business, with the fifth largest economy in the world, it is now hemorrhaging people and businesses to places like Texas because the politics in the state have gotten so bad.

Rhode Island experimented with religious freedom, and it turned out to be a pretty good use of an eventual state! That should be the principle right now, to defuse the powder keg politics threatening the united part of our States of America.

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