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 concerning voting; which allows for “consent”).
In other words, True States Rights’ Federalism allows for 50 different states of being (or states of mind). Or more accurately, it allows for many different regions, within many different states, allowing people to thrive in cities, suburbs, and rural areas, and find a climate and culture within the bounds of Americanism and the United States that fits their tastes. The idea is that this maximizes the liberty and rights of different types of people while still ensuring law and order and shared values of the Republic.
“It is difficult for the united states to be all of equal power and extent.” – Montesquieu, Spirit of the Laws 1748
United States Federalism and its Purpose
The concept is that, while needs differ by “climate,” with each state having diverse needs, a central government, state and federal law and agreement on 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 +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.
If we think of our union 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. However, by coming together to ensure each other’s liberty, and to cooperate based on each other’s strengths and weaknesses, we allow a greater ability to thrive. The liberal acceptance and unity of diverse states is a big part of what allows for our American exceptionalism.
Although having 50 (let alone 13) sovereign states in a Union presents as host of challenges, it also offers 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 a reasonable compromise.
TIP: Do 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 is worse. This is what the Treaty of 1783 focused on when the colonies were recognized as sovereign states.
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 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 each of the America’s states to be 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 areas of different extent of territory, which have each one voice.
The cities of Lycia contributed to the expenses 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 reach of all peoples.” This seems a little “off” at first, and I think this is why it is ignored today. However, 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 better 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 varied 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. People and states have the right to make decisions that other consider bad; gambling and marijuana laws come to mind. The general concept here is one of liberty. The states allow for state-based solutions; districts and regions allow for local solutions. They all operate within the guidelines of a federal framework. This avoids blanket solutions that try to treat every state, region, and district the same. There may be a general theory that applies to all people, but liberty involves having a gray area to move around in. It allows for individualism and self-determination while retaining the spirit of the group, unity, and social benefit for the collective.