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Since "state's rights" are so clearly a harmful anachronism, used regularly for two centuries to justify "local yokel" laws furthering racism, bigotry, larceny, and evasion of environmental, financial, and civil rights regulations, we may assume that at some point (though possibly still far in the future), the majority of Americans will recognize this fact and support abolition of the vestigial, false "sovereignty" of the States.  In fact, we are one nation, and need to live under one set of laws.  The Tenth Amendment essentially says, "states can make laws about anything the Constitution doesn't cover".  But as we've found over and over consistently for generations, the Constitution actually covers everything--everything that matters.

As a practical matter, how could State "sovereignty" be abolished in favor of a purely Federal legal structure, and what would be the motivation for the common man to support it?

Ideally, such a New Federalization would be accomplished via a leisurely, incremental, and voluntary, state-by-state process, rather than by a single agonizing national upheaval like a Constitutional amendment.  Over time, as the benefits to Federalized States became obvious and well-known, more and more citizens would support--even demand--that their own State yield its sovereignty as well. Yet, "holdouts"would be tolerated.

What benefits would motivate average citizens to look well upon the prospect of yielding up their entire state legal system?  Here are some possibilities:

* Federal "carrot" money offered to states doing so--increased infrastructure, healthcare, and education funding, for example.

* Citizen benefits, like increased Social Security payments.

* No more state income taxes to pay.  Though Federal taxes might have to be somewhat higher to fund formerly State expenses, savings due to the abolition of the entire state revenue bureaucracy (and other local agencies) would likely mean that net total taxes to the state citizens would be lower in Federalized states.

* A simplified legal system wherein the state courts would be integrated as a new operating level of the Federal court system.

* Federal licenses and registrations good anywhere in the Federalized regions--including driver's licenses, bar memberships, etc. etc.--vastly simplifying national business and all that was formerly "interstate" commerce.

As more and more of the nation Federalized, the elimination of State agencies and obligations (which are often redundant with their Federal counterparts) would streamline business and daily life for many citizens and corporations, and likely increase overall national GDP and prosperity, while eliminating vast categories of legal logjams currently clogging the courts.

Perhaps a convenient mechanism for this New Federalization would be a state-by-state legal merger with the District of Columbia, which is already under Federal law alone.  However, D.C. has no representation at present in Congress.  Therefore, if this mechanism were employed, it is likely that D.C. would have to be granted representation proportional to its population, which would increase dramatically each time a State merged with it.

Alternatively, each State could become a separate Federal District of California, District of Arkansas, District of Massachusetts, and so on.  Yet it would be ironic if the tiny District of Columbia, seemingly so insignificant, eventually engulfed all the States one by one!

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Comment Preferences

  •  I can disagree with (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bobsc, happymisanthropy, debedb

    the bad faith States Rights crowd and still see and appreciate the value of state, county, and town-levels of government administration that is not bypassed directly to the Federal Government.

    Why, for example, would I assume that the Federal government would always be in good, or better, hands than could occur at the State level in the era of Citizen's United and the Tea Party?

    Good Government is hardly Movement Conservatism's priority.

    Federal "carrot" money offered to states doing so--increased infrastructure, healthcare, and education funding, for example.
    Would House Speaker Paul Ryan do such a thing? Or maintain such a thing? Or a President Romney? Or would these sweeteners disappear completely in times of Republican oversight.

    We see what reactionary Republicans from faraway Conservative bastions in Arizona and Utah are doing to Washington DC, in regards to abortion rights and gun control policy. Rule from the Federal level in an arrangement where the locals are powerless to make their own policy can really, really suck.

    I can imagine scenarios where a liberal state in a Democratic era of governance gives up much of it's State level power and wakes up one day to discover that Marco Rubio is President, Paul Ryan is the Speaker of the House, and Jim DeMint is Senate Majority Leader. Suddenly, all sorts of progressive government policy might be barred, and States could be prevented from developing policies and practices at the local level under such a change.  

    Do so-called Red States and Blue States get to swap in and out of this new reality? Because I can see "I'm in when it's my side that is in charge, but I'm out when the other people are in charge" being an issue.

    I doubt a vastly empowered Federal Government that is run by a reactionary corporatist Tea Party majority is going to do state-level Vermont healthcare reform activists or gay marriage supporters in more liberal states much good in a scenario where Vermont has given up it's State level courts and radically reduced the power of its local governance.

    It seems to me that this is only looking at the upside, and not the potential downside, of such a change.

    The States Rights argument isn't one that has ever been made in good faith.

    If, hypothetically, Roe V. Wade is overturned, and there are states with abortion rights laws on the books, every single "States Rights Local Sovereignty" Movement Conservative Republican in a Tri-Corner hat will be clamoring for the Big Bad Federal Government to roll over the States like a steam roller and crush abortion rights and access at the State level.

    We are not in a good faith argument with Movement Conservatives or Conservatism.

    I am from the Elizabeth Warren and Darcy Burner wing of the Democratic Party

    by LeftHandedMan on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 08:59:10 PM PDT

  •  States Have Neither Rights Nor Sovereignty. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    happymisanthropy, twigg

    They surrendered both in 1789 when they ratified the Constitution, which along with all its amendments doesn't even mention either concept.

    Both are found only in the Articles of Confederation which barely survived 10 years before the entire nation concluded it needed a convention to revamp them because they completely did not work. They nearly cost us the war of independence among other things.

    States have powers, not sovereignty, not rights.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 09:25:02 PM PDT

    •  Gooserock - if states are not sovereign (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      twigg

      You will see many of them go through bankruptcy and shed their employee unions and pension plans just like corporations and a growing number of cities. Sovereignty is the most powerful force protecting public employees.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 09:33:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  States are "Sovereign" (0+ / 0-)

        only under a unique American definition of the word.

        They do not have any of the powers that would make them "Sovereign States" under any normal definition.

        They actually are more like "Provinces" with some limited local law-making and tax raising powers.

        I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
        but I fear we will remain Democrats.

        by twigg on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 09:58:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  twigg - states are sovereign because (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          nextstep

          of the unique way our country was formed and the thought that as many governmental powers as possible should be closer to the people to make it easier to change. Over the years states have lost much of their autonomy as the federal government has consolidated its powers.

          "let's talk about that"

          by VClib on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 07:29:01 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Auton - I don't agree at all with your view (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nextstep

    I think the fact that we have 50 states and numerous county and city governments is an important part of our democracy. The states can be 50 laboratories that can test various philosophies of governance and public policy. It also allows people to vote with their feet and move to states that are governed in a fashion that they prefer.

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 09:36:36 PM PDT

  •  I can see no way to convince states to give up (0+ / 0-)

    their privileges. In particular, I see no way to make rural states give up their two Senators each in favor of a system that represents the people proportionately according to the one person, one vote rule. (We could, of course, discuss filibuster reform.)

    The one area where I specifically agree with you is that we should Federalize all elections, instead of having thousands of local systems for registration and voting with no consistency of rules and no standards for record-keeping, among other problems. The Constitution already permits this, so it is only a matter of political will.

    Hands off my ObamaCare[TM] http://www.healthcare.gov

    by Mokurai on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 12:06:26 AM PDT

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