Thursday, November 8, 2012

Give Federalism a chance?

There's a lot of talk about yesterday's presidential election, but I don't want to talk about that.  What I find interesting are the ballot measures.  Here are the ones that are even mildly interesting:

  • Three states, Colorado, Washington, and Oregon, decriminalized some for of marijuana usage as a state matter.  It's still against Federal law
  • Three states, Maine, Maryland, and likely Washington, endorsed gay marriage.  31 states had previously officially rejected endorsing it.
  • Two states, Maryland and Rhode Island, extended legalization of gambling while one, Oregon, rejected it.
  • One state, Missouri, explicitly disallowed their Governor from legislating on health exchanges
  • One state, Montana, required parental notification of abortions
  • One state, California, voted to keep the death penalty

I find these interesting not because of the content, but because it shows that we still want Federalism.  The most interesting to me are the marijuana bills.  Those states are reliable votes on federalizing just about anything, yet the actually bothered to put on the ballot and pass a measure to decriminalize something that's already against federal law.  Why bother?  I would bet a large percentage of the people who voted to decriminalize at the state level drug use that's still a federal crime think Missouri's rejection of Obamacare at the state level is insane.

But why?

Why must everything be a federal issue?  Why can't some states have the death penalty (even for minors) and others not?  Why can't some states have legal marijuana and not others?  

I'm so tired of hearing about how horrible it is we're a divided country.  I can tell you how we can stop being a divided country:

Let the people in Washington have their legal marijuana and gay marriage, but don't make the people in Georgia endorse gay marriages established in Washington.  Let Massachusetts have their government run healthcare, but Texas stay with private healthcare.  I understand that some things, even some very important things, must be handled at the Federal level.  There may be serious issues with parts of Sarbanes-Oxley, but I'll admit it had to be done at the Federal level.  (And, conveniently, it has to with the regulation of interstate commerce, which was already a Federal power)  But huge chunks of what makes us a divided nation (Carbon emissions, health care, abortion, gay marriage, drug control, speed limits, drinking ages, the death penalty...) don't have to be national issues.

So if Montana and Washington State both agree that there shouldn't be one national standard, why can't we go back to not having one national standard?

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