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Politics

DO AWAY WITH THE STATES

Maybe it’s time the United States of America just becomes United America. The hell with having 50 different states with 50 different laws and regulations. Every citizen of every state thinks of him or herself as an American before they are Texans, Virginians, New Yorkers or Californians. It has always been common for many Americans to live in several different states during their lifetimes, or work in a state other than their home state, never more so than now. At the beginning of our experiment in democracy back in the 1770’s, Americans identified more closely with their home states than their nation. The stipulation that each State gets 2 Senators regardless of size or population was in response to fears that the larger states would dominate the smaller and less populous ones in national affairs.

This was a realistic fear since the states had previously been completely separate colonies and rivals in trade and commerce before the American Revolution, often at odds with one another over domestic affairs, inter-colony commerce and tariffs and tolls put on goods shipped between the colonies. The British didn’t mind this state of affairs, that whole divide and conquer philosophy that kept their revenue stream intact while the colonies squabbled amongst themselves. After independence, the former competitors who were forced to become comrades in arms during the Revolution reverted to their chauvinistic state loyalties and many compromises were made in the Constitution to cobble these disparate states into a viable Union.

One of the compromises that plagues our national elections to this day is the Electoral College, that incomprehensible system of electors that can hand the presidency to the loser of the popular vote, and has more than once. Other impediments to the oneness of America are the different laws in each state. Every state has a Governor and a legislature that can pass any law they choose so long as it passes Constitutional muster. This leads to Texas executing mentally retarded teenagers and tiny Delaware registering more corporations than the rest of the 50 States combined. It also leads corporations to relocate in less-regulated states, allowing them to rip off their customers, dodge taxes and pollute our environment.

Eliminating the States will never happen entirely, but they could be maintained as less powerful entities. Create a uniform American code of law that holds true in every state. For example, why waste time and money extraditing criminals within one nation? New Jersey is not a sovereign nation, nor is Iowa. They are part of one big country. Why should their laws be different? Why should sentences for identical crimes vary within one nation? Outside of obvious local regulations like low speed limits on big city streets and water rights regulations in farming states and the like, states should all follow one set of laws and when we vote in national elections the popular vote should be the final word. One guy gets 100 votes, the other 99, the 100 vote guy becomes president. That’s majority rule. Democracy.

Would this give the federal government too much power?  Who cares? They’ve got the lion’s share of it already and control the national armed forces, so who would notice the difference? Who would lose sleep over not having a State Senator with easy access to the State Treasury? Keep the state borders and the Senate and House representation the same, just don’t give some cop in California the power to tell you not to bring a banana into his state. It’s not his damned state, or anybody’s state, but one of our states, and he just happens to be another American living there. 

People can still take pride in their home state, but not to the point where they become Robert E. Lee, who was America’s best military officer until he decided his greatest loyalty was to Virginia and so fought for the Confederacy. Anyone doing that today would be called an un-American traitor and locked up in a second. That’s how far we’ve come as a united nation since the Civil War. People have more identification with their particular hometown than their home state these days, and even that comes in a very distant second to being American in the loyalty department.

Now it’s time to take the next step and make the states efficient administrative territories of the nation with no power to make laws contrary to those of the rest of the nation. Put together a committee of Constitutional experts and legal representatives from each state to make sure everybody gets their two cents in and come up with a uniform set of laws for all 50 states. Amend the Constitution. Let it take years, be very careful and fair and American and completely Constitutional, but let it happen. What we have now makes less and less sense and weighs down taxpayers with too many layers of lawmakers and bureaucracies. State legislator positions used to be part-time jobs but now they’re big time political pork barrel machines just like Washington, D.C., only times 50. One’s plenty.

Who needs that many people in charge of us and taxing us and passing laws  that effect us all the time? If the basic criminal and civil code for all 50 states was in place, the state lawmakers would have less to do, and the less power you give politicians, the better. The real power has been in Washington for well over a century. Let’s formalize it. What about State Courts? Municipal Courts? As it stands now they must adhere to Federal standards. Make them a part of one national legal system, with no differing laws in different states mucking up the works. 

While New York City needs no farming regulations and rural Kansas needs few traffic laws, the odds are slim that these issues will come up in their respective courtrooms. And if they do, the law will be the same in both states. The whole notion of 50 separate jurisdictions in 50 states is silly. The idea that close national elections can be decided by an obsolete and incomprehensible system is ridiculous. Unite the States by doing away with them in all but name. One man, one vote, one nation.

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