The United “States” – A Union of Different “States”
The United States can be thought of as a union of diverse and sovereign regions, of sovereign people, who agree on the basic principles of democracy, republicanism, federalism, and liberalism in general. (TIP: Agree = have entered into an implicit social contract, by becoming or being born a citizen, to follow the explicit laws of the U.S. including those pertaining to voting; which allows for “consent”).
The concept being that while needs differ by “climate” (with each state having diverse needs), a central government, state and federal law, and voting rights allows for a representative federal republic and state-based republics that can meet the needs of any citizen.
Being united federally, a citizen can move from state-to-state and from region-to-region and find the environment that works best for them without needing a visa or to exchange currency. The Union also forces us to find moderate middle ground on divisive issues.
To think of it in a more ethereal sense, the states are like “states of mind”. There are 50 frames of reference in the United States, each with sub-frames as diverse as our many towns, counties, cities, groups, companies, and climates.
The position and needs of an urban Californian may be different than those of a rural Texan, but by coming together to ensure each others liberty, and to cooperate based on each other’s strengths and weaknesses, allows us a greater ability to thrive; the liberal acceptance and unity of diverse states is a big part of what allows for our American exceptionalism.
In words, although having 50 (let alone 13) sovereign states in a Union presents as host of challenges, it also presents opportunities. Just consider this passage from Montesquieu’s Spirit of the Laws which predates the formation of the American Federal Republic (featured below).
What Were the Articles of Confederation? | America: Facts vs. Fiction. It is hard to value a Union of states and to understand why “a house shouldn’t be divided” if you don’t understand how the Articles of Confederation became the Constitution.
The Constitution, the Articles, and Federalism: Crash Course US History #8.
TIP: Part of balancing the powers is “the separation of powers and checks and balances” and other constitutional provisions like the electoral college and bill of rights. It isn’t about giving everyone what they want. It is about finding reasonable compromise.
TIP: You know what is worse than being in a union with allies, being ruled by a tyrant who won’t allow you representation in government. Sort of what the whole Treaty of 1783 that recognized the colonies as sovereign states was about.
History Brief: The Treaty of Paris 1783.
Political Parties of the 1850s. And this.
CHAP. III.: Other Requisites in a confederate Republic
IN the republic of Holland, one province cannot conclude an alliance without the consent of the others. This law, which is an excellent one, and even necessary in a confederate republic, is wanting in the Germanic constitution, where it would prevent the misfortunes that may happen to the whole confederacy through the imprudence, ambition, or avarice, of a single member. A republic, united by a political confederacy, has given itself entirely up, and has nothing more to resign.
It is difficult for the united states to be all of equal power and extent. The Lycian* republic was an association of twenty-three towns; the large ones had three votes in the common council, the middling ones two, and the small towns one. The Dutch republic consists of seven princes of different extent of territory, which have each one voice.
The cities of Lycia contributed to the expences of the state according to the proportion of suffrages. The provinces of the united Netherlands cannot follow this proportion; they must be directed by that of their power.
In Lycia∥, the judges and town magistrates were elected by the common council, and according to the proportion already mentioned. In the republic of Holland, they are not chosen by the common council, but each town names its magistrates. Were I to give a model of an excellent confederate republic, I should pitch upon that of Lycia.
What We Believe, Part 7: American Exceptionalism.
TIP: See: why the founders choose a Republic.
STATES’ RIGHTS: America’s 50 states include many diverse entities with vastly different needs, tolerances, and cultures. Montesquieu’s book also says [paraphrasing, in Rousseau’s language], “liberty, not being a fruit of all climates, is not within the reach of all peoples”. This seems a little “off” at first, and I think this is why it is nearly ignored in the modern day, but taken in conjunction with Montesquieu and Rousseau’s work, we see that they didn’t mean to imply that despotic states are better for some and liberty for others. Instead, they were both trying to express the idea that different cultures, climates, and environments led to different tolerances and needs for the people’s of that land. An urbanite in a cold climate isn’t going to have the same tolerances, culture, or needs as a rural farmer in a warm climate, and this can change from group to group, district to district, family to family. In this light, it isn’t a statement about limiting the liberty of some, it is a statement about different policies and rules making sense in different environments. The United States allows for a Union between differing entities by offering both state and federal law. A single policy might not be suitable for every region, for example, firearms laws may make more sense in a crowded city than on the open plain… and good sense aside, people and states also have the right to make decisions that other consider bad (gambling and pot laws come to mind). The general concept here is actually one of liberty, the states allow for state-based solutions, and districts and regions local solutions, all within the guidelines of federal frameworks, and this avoids blanket solutions that try to treat every state, region, and district the same. There may be a general moral theory that applies to all people, but liberty is all about having a grey area to move around in; this allows for individualism and self determination, while retaining the spirit of group, unity, and social benefit for the collective.