The Big Think

June 27, 2013

Pieces of the Puzzle

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 11:05 am

Gay Marriage Is Just One Piece of the Puzzle:

“It’s worth taking a step back from the emotions and technical details of all of these events to ask about the broader trend they point to. Superficially, they point to a schizophrenic public: leaning pro-life; increasingly in favor of gay marriage; divided on gun control but unwilling to pull the trigger, so to speak, on significantly tightened gun laws. But on a deeper level, these all look like examples of the biggest cultural-political trend in America: a response to the growing complexity of 21st century life that revives individualism and states’ rights.

The federal legislature, the Court, and state governments, both blue and red, seem to have adopted this principle of devolution as a strategy for dealing with the most politically toxic issues of our time. America is too big and its citizens are too diverse for one-size-fits-all solutions to some of our culture war issues. Some traditional American views seem newly relevant as we cope with these issues: individuals should be allowed as much freedom as is consistent with their not harming others; wherever possible, states should be free to settle their affairs on their own terms.

Some 18th-century ideas are proving surprisingly useful in 21st-century America.

There seems to be a growing support for a reemergence of strong State’s Rights on both sides of the aisle- the way the country was originally designed to operate. Don’t like the laws in Texas? Instead of shouting your opponents down, you can know that some other state is receptive to your views that will welcome you with open arms. Hate the political/economic/cultural climate of your current state? Don’t worry, in the vast experimental laboratory of the 50 states, you can surely find one that is closer to how you want to live your life.

There is little reason to have 50 separate states if every single thing under the sun is going to be determined by half a thousand people sharing a single culture and cocooned together n the east coast. Do you Vive la différence? Then let the différence la vive.


  1. I agree completely with the thought. 100% Amen brother preach on.
    Realistically, there are large barriers to moving to a new state like employment and staying at home to take care of family.
    We want our cake and to eat it too… or more like we want our cake brought to us.

    Comment by Josh — June 27, 2013 @ 11:39 am

  2. Yeah, I agree that as a practical matter there are things that get in the way of simply moving to another state because you disagree with [pick one]. I wrote this post with the understanding that the Cheap Seat Shooters would take aim at the supposed naivete of such a simplistic solution. Nevertheless, there must be some middle ground to the current solution of using the Federal government to make all states equal by hatchet, ax, and saw–making every square inch of this wonderful country, and every one of its citizens, live by perfectly uniform laws. ESPECIALLY in light of the fact that it was never intended thus. And the rules by which that once-agreed-upon system could be changed have largely been ignored.

    I think proponents of large Federal decrees that happen to agree with their particular world view are missing the larger point: diversity in the legal landscape from state to state is a GOOD thing. If you’re in favor of a strong Federal government that makes nationwide decrees, sooner or later one of those will be something that you’re against and then you’re stuck.

    Far better a weaker Federal government and stronger states. Sounds like a certain document….

    Comment by jasony — June 27, 2013 @ 11:46 am

  3. I know that you know that I know that you know…
    BTW Who you calling a Cheap Seat Shooter? 🙂

    Comment by Josh — June 27, 2013 @ 12:58 pm

  4. Heh, not you at all. But I know many people read comments for the sheer joy of prying apart whatever small argumentative leverage they can find and using that tiny bit as the entire basis of their rebuttal. Helps them feel better about themselves, I guess.

    Reasoned disagreement (expressed politely) I can definitely hang with. Argument-for-sport is something that I’ve decided to leave out of my life.

    Comment by jasony — June 27, 2013 @ 2:53 pm

  5. Precisely — and we can see the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington as part of that pattern, as well as other, longer-term trends like gambling and prostitution in Nevada. It’s all part of the patchwork, and while it’s unrealistic to imagine that anyone could just pick up and move for one issue, by the same token *if* there’s any issue that really makes it or breaks it for you, there’s some place you could go, and it’s getting more and more that way. A very welcome development away from the 20th-century trend toward homogenization.

    Comment by barrybrake — June 30, 2013 @ 1:33 am

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