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Wednesday, May 23, 2018
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Divided and (more-or-less) loving it

There is division afoot in America, notes the preternaturally alert Jim Geraghty in Monday's “Morning Jolt” newsletter for National Review, and increasingly – according to a USA TODAY/Bipartisan Policy Center poll – we seem to be content with the arrangement. This, he furthermore reports, is not such a bad thing, even if – especially if – the condition stymies Capitol Hill activities.

After paying fair tribute to the that crucial line in the Pledge of Allegiance – “one nation, under God, indivisible” – The Right Stuff finds itself in essential agreement with Geraghty, who muses at length on the genius of federalism laid out by the Founders.

“[W]e have red states and blue states, with different cultures, voting patterns, and broadly-held philosophies about government. Ideally, we would have let each part of the country live the way they want, as long as its laws didn't violate the Constitution.  You want high taxes and generous public benefits? Go ahead and have them; we'll see if your voters vote with their feet. Let Illinois be Illinois, and let South Carolina be South Carolina.”

It bears inserting: And if Illinois decides to take itself to the brink of bankruptcy with over-generous public employee pension programs, it should not look to South Carolina, via Washington D.C., to bail out its largess.

“Last fall I took a trip to Seattle, Wash., and the surrounding area. It seemed like every menu, store display, and sign emphasized that the offered products were entirely organic, biodegradable, free range, pesticide-free, fair trade, cruelty-free, and every other environmentally-conscious label you can imagine. ... Maybe it's just a natural consequence that when you have Mount Rainier and Puget Sound outside your window, you become a crunchy tree-hugging environmentalist. If that's the way they want to live up there, that's fine. ... Let the Seattle-ites elect a Socialist to their city council. Let Sea-Tac try a $15/hour minimum wage and see if the airport Starbucks starts charging twenty bucks for a small latte.

“As long as other parts of the country are allowed to pursue their own paths, that's fine.”

Here's the money quote out of the USA TODAY story: “I think this [division deadlocking Congress] is the new normal, and I think it's terrible,” says Shar Wright, 65, of Bodfish, Calif. “They're putting their own agendas first and they should be voting on what the people want and what the country needs. What we need is a lot more care, a lot more concern and a lot less of tomfoolery.”

Who among us hasn't said exactly the same thing, while simultaneously forgetting “what the people want” and “what the country needs” are political questions we squabble over all the time and fail to answer on Election Day, because it's the other guy's representative and senator who need changing, not mine. And it wouldn't be so bad, Geraghty explains, except:

“[A] big part of the problem is ... we have an administration in Washington ... determined to stomp out the state policies it doesn't like. The president doesn't want ... any right-to-work states. His Department of Justice is doing everything possible to obstruct Louisiana's school-choice laws. They're fighting state voter ID laws in court, insisting [they violate] the Constitution, even though the Supreme Court ruled, 6 to 3, that requiring the showing of an ID does not represent an undue burden on voters. ...

“The country would be 'torn apart' less if we were allowed to address more of our public-policy problems on a local or state basis. But anti-federalism is in the cellular structure of liberalism. All of their solutions are 'universal,' 'comprehensive,' or 'sweeping.' Everything must be changed at once, for everyone, with no exceptions. Perhaps it's a good approach for some other species, but not human beings.”