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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Modern Federalism: A Great Compromise - Part II: States' Rights and Personal Preferences

"The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite." 

- James Madison: From Federalist #45

As it was discussed in Part I, rights are nothing more than a set of permissions or rules adhered to and protected by a society or group of people, and societies and groups of people are defined by different cultures, religions, geographies, etc. While any citizen can make a claim such as, "it's my right to smoke marijuana" or "it's my right to marry whomever I want" or "it's my right to speak as freely as I want," the fact remains that these claims are unfounded, and there are no rights that are guaranteed other than those granted by society. To those who refuse to accept this reality, I ask, "if the rights you claim exist actually do, where do they come from?" Regardless of your answer, what luck do you suppose you'd have if you tried to execute the aforementioned rights in a society that didn't permit and protect them? It needs to be understood that a democratic society, as abhorrent as it sounds, can push its beliefs upon its citizens, even those who choose still live within it as non-participants or non-believers. Before protesting and scoffing at this idea, just think about the question I just asked. The will of the people, through a democratic system, ultimately determines the direction their society travels. You might ask, "well, what about the little guy, and what about his/her rights?" The answer is simple: what about them? If society doesn't grant a right, the right doesn't exist. Polygamy is a great example of this. Why can't polygamists marry whom they want and live in the peaceful way they wish with the same marriage-based government protections that non-polygamists and now some homosexual couples enjoy? Isn't it the polygamist's "right" to love and live as they choose? Simply, no... not yet. That right has not yet been granted by society, and yes, from those polygamists' view, their "rights" are being squashed. As we go forward, it's important to know that while the prescribed notion and understanding of rights discussed here is crucial to a properly functioning society, the axiom that rises above all notions, explained or not explained, is that for the people of any society to be truly free, they must have the ability to live in a society whereby they themselves choose the very society in which they live.

In understanding this, in my most humble opinion, the only way for our melting pot of cultures, races, beliefs, religions, views, political opinions, etc., to function peacefully and properly in such a vast geographic space is to accept a compromise such as Modern Federalism. Modern Federalism affords people the opportunity to live in the society they desire without compromising their own beliefs and while allowing them the ability to still enjoy the safety and protections our federal government bestows. 

America, since our founding, truly has been a cauldron of various preferences, wishes, and ideas. It's really that simple, and it's also a simple understanding that people of different faiths, backgrounds, and beliefs have a yearning to live in a society of similar liking. When discussing the pursuit of happiness, one of the most sacred virtues our Declaration of Independence projects, it's entirely reasonable to expect Americans to have a proclivity for self governance especially in the communities and regions in which they reside. Americans are creatures of compromise, and they do bend, but rarely do they break. That said, it is entirely unrealistic to expect people of different faiths, backgrounds, and beliefs to compromise largely on those very tenets of life in order to satisfy their neighbors. This is why Modern Federalism is the best political concept to ensure the pursuit of happiness is respected, rights are protected, and excessive compromises are not only avoided, but completely unnecessary.

Similar to the examination method employed in Part I, an effective way to look at Modern Federalism is through examples. Since it has already been briefly mentioned, the consumption of marijuana, while controversial, has been at the forefront of recent state-centered political debate. It must be stated first that this is not a pro-marijuana manifesto (truth be told, I despise any and all recreational drugs including alcohol, and if it were up to me, marijuana would always remain illegal - but that's irrelevant). That being said, on November 6th, Colorado and Washington, through a statewide election, passed a law permitting the use, carry, and consumption of non-medicinal marijuana. I absolutely respect this, and I rejoice at democracy's true showing. 

Anyone reading this might be dumbfounded. Surely therein lies a fundamental disconnect when such a vehement opponent of marijuana hails its legislative passage, right? While I renounce drugs in all forms, I have nothing but approbation for a society that upholds the idea of "power to the people" by choosing to grant its citizens the ability to govern themselves as they see fit. Still, the question still exists: "How can you be okay with this?" The simplest of answers, to me, is this: If I don't like it, I can leave.

Allow me to expand on this commendable proposition. If my current home state, Maryland, through a true democratic process, decided to legalize marijuana, I would absolutely respect the will of the people. Obviously, I would be in the minority with respect to this issue. If it aggravated me to the point that it felt I was compromising my moral fiber to remain a resident of this state, I can simply move to another state. The best part of this remains: I would still be an American. If more and more federal laws I disagree with are passed, I cannot simply move out of the country and still be an American. Sure, I'd retain my American citizenship, but the protections this country offers would be difficult to enjoy while living in another country. Modern Federalism is truly a way to maintain "Americanism." If I don't want to live in a society that I feel represents the opposite of my personal beliefs, it falls on me to choose to stay or leave. Marylanders certainly have the ability to decide what's best for their state, and I respect that, but in a thoroughly-mixed country, one that is quite unique compared to the relatively homogeneous nature of other countries in the world, a "one-size-fits-every-citizen" approach, in my opinion, is not the best and most balanced way to protect every citizen's wishes. It's important to recognize our differences, and it's also important to respect them enough to allow the people of each state to choose how they live.

Marijuana legislation seems less relevant and less controversial, however, than other recent social "hot-button" issues, but the underlying concepts are still the same. Before moving on, though, I the pose the following question: Would it be reasonable to assume a devout Christian would want to live in a Biblical society? I think a safe answer is "yes," and I also think it's reasonable to expect a Christian to vote on the laws within his/her region in that manner. When a Christian votes in this way is he/she attempting to restrict the rights of others? Maybe, maybe not, but I think the most important understanding to take away from this example is that the Christian is voting to live in a society he/she desires. Again, that's reasonable and understandable. Additionally, would it be reasonable to assume a homosexual man would want to live in a secular society, or maybe one that exists without strict Christian principles? Absolutely. But this debate isn't about religion in or being projected by government; it's about a peoples' right to determine the laws under which they live. If Christians prefer Christian-based laws, it's perfectly a legitimate desire. If non-Christians prefer non-Christian-based laws, that's a legitimate desire, too. Because a group of people have similar moral principles, and because those principles are centered (or not centered) around religion does not mean a law passed by a local government composed of religious people and based on religious principles (or not, of course) violates the First Amendment. The specific First Amendment ramifications issue is a topic for another day, however, and I would like to continue discussing the issue at hand. 

Looking at the previous paragraph, I highlighted gay marriage for a reason. Again, as with the issue of marijuana legislation, this isn't an article for or against gay marriage; it's a supposition of how Modern Federalism is, in our modern times, a "best of both worlds" solution. I want to examine the previously-mentioned issue of how some people claim that gay marriage opponents are attempting to restrict of the rights of others. This is true with gay marriage proponents, too. When the two sides are divided clearly and examined thoughtfully, a difference between gay marriage opponents and gay marriage proponents, with respect to "rights" and the desire to live in a certain type of society agreed upon by those who choose to live in it, is indiscernible. While gay marriage proponents might say, "how day you vote to restrict the rights of homosexuals," and "how dare you force us to live in a society we don't want to live in," the turnabout from gay marriage opponents, to me, is an equal but opposite reaction: "how dare you force us to live in a society we don't want to live in?" While gay marriage proponents view gay marriage opponents' views as an imposition of a personal belief on a society, from the gay marriage opponent's view, it really is no different. I must reiterate, that before both sides erupt into a shouting match about the granting and/or restriction of rights in the respective societies in which they live, the principles discussed in the first paragraph of this article are the most imperative point to keep in the front of our minds: Rights are not guaranteed, and they are only "given" and protected by society. 

So who is correct, and how does Modern Federalism reconcile this? Well, in short, it's not a matter of being "correct" and the following assessment will discuss this.

First, Modern Federalism is a compromise. It allows people to chose how they live without imposing such a limit on dissenters that those in opposition are left with the feeling that a compromise of their personal beliefs is the only option they have left. If Maryland, for example, legalized prostitution, abortion, same sex marriage, and a full assortment of other typical "amoral-to-Christian" views, then Christians residing in the state can choose to move to a state that best reflects their moral interests. As previously mentioned, Colorado and Washington legalized recreational marijuana; Oregon did not. It's reasonable to say that those in Colorado who do not agree with the newly passed law have the freedom and opportunity to move to Oregon if they feel that strongly about the issue. Modern Federalism ensures all Americans' views are respected while also providing an opportunity that guarantees no Americans are bending more than they desire.

Likewise, if non-Christian residents of South Carolina disagreed with the Christian-based laws recently passed in the state (this is hypothetical), or if they felt the government was teetering too close to values they disagreed with, these residents could move to Maryland as the Christian Marylanders left the state. I see absolutely no problem with this, and, as the title implies, I think this is a great, safe compromise.

Secondly, Modern Federalism encompasses a "modern" solution. One hundred and sixty years ago, it was unfeasible to simply "get up and move" to a state that represented your beliefs and personal preferences. But times have changed. Invariably, advances in technology, communications, education, and the passage of information have made such a move not only easy but quite common. Since 1997, for example, I have lived in 11 different places in 9 different states. It's the nature of my life, and while it wasn't easy, it certainly wasn't hard. If people are passionate about their personal beliefs, and if the residents of a state are truly turned off by a state's legislative and collective societal moves, they have the right, the means, and the ability to change their situations.

It should be clearly noted that the "majority rules" issues discussed in the previous three paragraphs were in the minds of our Founding Fathers, but their apprehensions about such issues hold no realistic trepidation today. Though Madison warned against a ruling majority or "faction" infringing on the rights of the minority in Federalist 10, and though he promoted a stronger, representative democracy and federal body to limit the effects of such factions, this view, in modern times, is somewhat antiquated. Madison did say, more importantly, that promoting a homogeneous society where every and all views, beliefs, and interests were similar was impractical. Considering that our current nation is much larger, more diverse, and technologically advanced than in the first fifty years of our existence, I believe that Modern Federalism realizes the latter notion of homogeneous impracticability as the stronger force, overriding the concern Madison had for his fear of the power of factions. While he saw the power of a direct democracy as a vehicle potentially employed by the majority to limit the freedoms of the minority, the existence of strong, diverse states spread across diverse regions, religions, cultures, and behaviors, acts as a modern "check" to limit the power of a direct democracy to do so. Modern Federalism, while promoting direct democracy on a state level, upholds the value of a representative one on a federal level. Allowing people to live as they wish, within the choice of a 50-state system, is a fair compromise and a secure balance between a citizen-governed free democracy, and the freedom-limiting mob Madison feared.

In addition to the relative ease of relocation, the "modern" component of this political idea allows for a direct democracy, (as stated, on a state level), which, in my opinion, is the best way to represent the views of the people for local or state-wide legislation. While yes, a representative democracy on the state level is certainly needed and necessary, it should be minimized in power, scope and size. As with our recent election, it's truly wonderful to see so many states turning to their citizens and heeding their voices via ballot initiative. As progress is made, this facet of Modern Federalism can surely help advance this truly citizen-driven government further. A representative democracy on the federal level bolstered by a direct democracy employed by the states is a compromise that both strong federal government and states' rights proponents alike can agree upon.

Modern Federalism, with respect to social issues and personal preferences, is truly a great compromise. It's a secure way for people of different beliefs to say, for example, "look, I don't agree with abortion, and I don't agree with gay marriage... but I'm not a bigot. It's a personal preference, and I just don't want it around me, but I certainly don't find it necessary for the entire country to feel this way." Pro-choice proponents and gay marriage activists, conversely, might not want religious-based laws incorporated into their society as well. Of course, this doesn't apply solely to religious or secular issues. Citizens might wish to live in a state that does not use the death penalty or one that does allow its citizens to carry concealed weapons. If that's their desires, so be it. The Constitution contains very few decrees with respect to federally-protected rights, and since our states are composed of differentiated people with vastly contrasted ideas and wishes, the supreme law of the land should remain this way to ensure all people have the opportunity to live in a society of its own local design. Yes, many people believe the U.S. should be a country that is "open" and "respectful" of all, but, as with many things, those notions still have a requisite need for definition, execution, and protection. If the U.S. chose to be exclusive, stubborn, and "closed," as abhorrent as that might sound, I'd surely want it to be based on the will of the citizens, not by the hand of an ever-powerful government. Modern Federalism is certainly not a method to establish a "correct" way to live... that's for the individual to decide. People should, however, always have the ability to choose the laws under which they live, and Modern Federalism is the best way to ensure that all Americans can do that in their respective regions without infringing on the "rights" of the other millions of Americans with whom they might never meet.

For Part I, please visit: http://loudmouthelephant.blogspot.com/2012/11/modern-federalism-great-compromise-part.html


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19 comments:

  1. You know I'm 'whatever's not set forth in the Constitution - belongs to the states' gal... but (and maybe it's just me) your piece, at least on the face of it, seeks to remove God from the equation... ie: We - in YOUR state - by a miniscule percentage have decided (for example) that God is dead, if YOU don't like living in OUR (newly) secular society - move OUT!

    First off, it's not always possible, physically nor financially to just 'move'. We want to move closer to our grandkids, so I've been trying to sell our home for almost 2 years... lots of lookers - but no sale as yet.

    Second, I've lived in NV for most of my life (since 1955). We 'Desert Rats' didn't change. Because we have no state income tax, Nevada (LV) has been literally overrun by 'escapees' from CA. These people brought their nanny state mentality with them - the SAME mentality that ruined their OWN state. And that's not even counting the massive influx of illegals - of ALL stripes.

    Our illegal population is well over 14%... and don't kid yourself for a minute - it's been PROVEN - they DO vote in our elections, local, state and national.

    These two groups have effectively run roughshod over the bulk of the state... by their sheer numbers in one of the SMALLEST of our 13 counties.

    Las Vegas illegal and union VOTER FRAUD is EXACTLY how we got Harry Reid (again) and Obama (again) in a state that's been traditionally conservative.

    And your remedy would be... the Desert Rats should leave their life-long home and just give it to the Californicators and illegals? Ranch families and business people - many who've been here since before the Gold Rush? Really?

    Take gay 'marriage' for example. Personally, I look at it as a language issue - call it something ELSE and I wouldn't care... to me, it's such a NON-issue when it DID come up for a vote in my state, I gave it a pass. The PEOPLE of my state - and 30? others said - NO. But the gays STILL keep pushing it!

    Why? I believe it's the liberal way, to continue beating people up for their beliefs and call names like 'homophobe' and 'racist'... to wear people down.

    p.s. I don't hate anyone, I do NOT believe in the LIBERAL concept of changing the DESCRIPTION of words in our language to make them fit into their agenda, (which IS BTW a long used COMMUNIST trick)

    Homosexuals comprise less than 3% of our population... why such a big fuss? They frame it within a civil 'rights' argument to give it wings. Which (to me) makes as much sense as a pedophile claiming the 'right' to marry an 8 yr. old. And before you scoff, the American Psychological section of the AMA IS, as we speak, REMOVING language describing pedophilia as a 'disease'.

    Maybe we should ask the people of Dearborn, Michigan how they like being pushed out of their life-long homes by the practitioners of a foreign and totally EXclusive religion; ask why their police call that city a 'no-go zone' to ANYONE NOT of their faith; look to France and England, where people of 'another faith' have moved in, taken over whole towns, displaced the longtime residents with their hatred and violence, and have subsequently turned said towns into ugly, hate filled slums.

    All this destruction - in the name of 'diversity'.

    I know I'll probably get pounced upon, but it must be looked at - carefully... (cont.)




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    1. You are right on as far as I am concerned. What a shame that people are so led astray by those who want to change us when our nation has been such a success. I know of a young may who told me he wanted change and that is why he voted for Obama. I ask him what kind of change did he have in mind. What did he not like about a free country. He couldn't tell me one single thing. Obviously this generation does not have any idea what it is like living in other countries with their lack of freedom and lack of material things. So Sad!!! neither do they realize how hard it was for those before us to get it this way for us, and that it can change just with the ones we vote into office. What a shame and really a disgrace.

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  2. Study the USSR, Poland, Germany, Communist China, North Korea, etc. and you'll find their regimes ALL had one thing in common: They REMOVED God and in some cases made it ILLEGAL to worship Him. (As a side-note, most of these places ALSO outlawed private ownership of guns with horrific results to their citizens.)

    Yes. If it's NOT in the Constitution, it IS a state matter. That said, I think if you LOOK at world history, the push toward secularism is not good and has ALWAYS ended badly.

    IF you remove God, the BASIS of our great nation - you create a vacuum... which we ALL know that Nature ABHORS. History has shown us what DOES replace Him, and it's NOT been pretty.

    Or maybe you think we're different?

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  3. Dara - Great debate, and it's wonderful to see people so passionate about civics.

    First, and I'm going to start near the end here, from me and this blog's view, you would never get pounced upon for standing up for what you believe... no matter how much we agree or disagree.

    That being said ( :-) ), above all things, I believe people have the right to govern themselves. If the people of a state, I used my state, Maryland, as an example, chose to enact laws I didn't agree with, that's their choosing. Who am I to tell them to stop? Whether it's gay marriage, secular laws, marijuana, etc, I cannot deny that I favor people choosing their own laws no matter how much I might agree or disagree with them.

    That being said, with respect to the God issue, I firmly believe that on the Federal level, the government should not impose any law that infringes on the religious rights of Americans. Now that doesn't mean we can't uphold a religion as a standard from which we create laws, it just means that the government shouldn't promote any single religion above another. The Ten Commandments, for example, set forth some great standards for civil living... should we not use them when making other laws simply because of a religious association? No... they have been a great backbone for some of our legislation. What the Constitution does is establish a principle that the government shall not prohibit you from practicing your religion freely (yes, there are some limits), and it shall not force you to practice a religion you don't want to practice.

    As far as God being removed from the equation, as an agnostic (yes, being the owner of a conservative blog, I obviously will get pounced on for this), I believe that God should not be a concept promoted by the government. But I do believe that it should not be prohibited as well. As I said, people should be permitted to practice religion as they wish (as an agnostic, though not religious myself, I 100% support the Catholic Church's lawsuit against Obamacare on the grounds that it infringes on their religious freedom).

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    1. On the state's level, to what degree people incorporate God into daily living is their choosing. That's what this article stands for. Now the Constitution prohibits state governments from establishing Christian laws, but that doesn't mean laws can't be based on Christian-like views. There is a massive difference there. Regardless, it is up to the people of the states to decide how they want to live, and I would never support a system where the federal government has so much power that it regulates the lives of the individuals on the local level.

      With respect to the "if you don't like it you can get out" mentality... this is, though you might not agree, pretty much true. As I said, if I live in Maryland, and they enact every single law I despise, through say a 95-5 majority, who am I to stop the will of the people. I don't have to leave... but if I want to live near people with the same views as me, I might have to. Democracy empowers people, not persons, and I respect that. The concept of "the majority has spoken" is a very real concept. If I had lived in Maryland for 30 years and the state changed around me, that's the way it would be. I can still stay here, or I could go to a place more favorable, and that's within my freedom to do. If not, I would just stay and be upset at my new reality. What Modern Federalism does is give people the freedom to chose that fate. If Maryland enacted law I despise, I can't stop them simply because I don't like them. If they don't protect the "rights" I stand for, I have no means to protect and execute my rights. Modern Federalism says that there is a way to balance this, and that's to permit the citizens of a state to regulate this. While it sounds odd and against many views, I always think that people should be able to govern in this way, and the will of the people should be respected. I'm sorry if you took offense to this... that wasn't my intent, but I do believe that while it's not a perfect system, having the states control their fate is the best way to ensure ALL Americans have the opportunity to live how they like :-)

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    2. @LME

      "The Ten Commandments, for example, set forth some great standards for civil living... should we not use them when making other laws simply because of a religious association? No... they have been a great backbone for some of our legislation. What the Constitution does is establish a principle that..."

      : )Even li'l ol' agnostic YOU can't get around it: The Ten Commandments, the BASIS for our American government COME directly from God. If we 'change' that BASIC precept... we WILL lose our soul - as Americans AND as human beings.

      @MN 4 Rick@ Maybe I wasn't clear. 'Modern progressives' DO want God gone from every aspect of not just their OWN lives, but from EVERYONE's. And that's what I was saying.

      Historically, countries where 'they've' been successful in removing God or drastically reducing His influence on the population, have produced societal as well as FISCAL disasters.

      The Eurozone is a prime MODERN example - the decline of their fiscal responsibility has DIRECTLY coincided with a rise in their countries' overall agnosticism/secularism.

      [I have a corresponding link for this data, buried somewhere in my 'puter, I'll try to find and post it...: ]






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  4. Dara, I love ya, but I have to admit, even as a devout Catholic, God does need to be removed. If people don't believe in him, does that mean they're lawless?

    And LME, this is perhaps the most eloquent thing you've ever written:

    "Though Madison warned against a ruling majority or "faction" infringing on the rights of the minority in Federalist 10, and though he promoted a stronger, representative democracy and federal body to limit the effects of such factions, this view, in modern times, is somewhat antiquated. Madison did say, more importantly, that promoting a homogeneous society where every and all views, beliefs, and interests were similar was impractical. Considering that our current nation is much larger, more diverse, and technologically advanced than in the first fifty years of our existence, I believe that Modern Federalism realizes the latter notion of homogeneous impracticability as the stronger force, overriding the concern Madison had for his fear of the power of factions. While he saw the power of a direct democracy as a vehicle potentially employed by the majority to limit the freedoms of the minority, the existence of strong, diverse states spread across diverse regions, religions, cultures, and behaviors, acts as a modern "check" to limit the power of a direct democracy to do so. Modern Federalism, while promoting direct democracy on a state level, upholds the value of a representative one on a federal level. Allowing people to live as they wish, within the choice of a 50-state system, is a fair compromise and a secure balance between a citizen-governed free democracy, and the freedom-limiting mob Madison feared."

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  5. Could not be more correct -

    Allowing people to live as they wish, within the choice of a 50-state system, is a fair compromise and a secure balance between a citizen-governed free democracy, and the freedom-limiting mob Madison feared.

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  6. This is a tough topic to discuss.

    But this is also a curious position to take. I don't mean to draw any absurd lines, but I'm sure that a very similar discussion was had with regards to whether the government should/could have the federal power to make slavery illegal across all states. Do you feel it’s a similar argument? And that it was the wrong move?

    I think that ultimately, this simplifies to the same exact principles at a state level as it does on a federal level. If the majority of a state believes in legislating a given right, then obviously the odds are they will pass legislation granting that right (whether possession/usage of marijuana, gay marriage, or whatever) as the will of the people. Everyone in the state may not agree with it, of course, but that’s how the system works. And in your post, you certainly appear to support that.

    Likewise though, if the majority of the states in the union believe in a right, then the odds are that it will eventually be enacted on a federal level as well. This is the aspect that you don’t agree with, correct?

    Ultimately, I think it’s a fair function of the federal government. I’m still developing and expanding my opinions on this topic, but I definitely believe in a federal government that adapts to the changing times (and by giving it the power to do so it certainly was agreed upon by the founding fathers). States of course are able to run their own independent governments, and I support that, but I don’t think it’s improper for the federal government to overrule it when the majority of the nation has decided it to be the best move for the country as a whole.

    I also don’t necessarily agree with the idea of a sort of ‘if you don’t like it, simply change states.’ Moving to a different state isn’t something people can very easily do on a whim, particularly if you’ve been living/working in a state for a long time. It may be easy for some people in some situations, but I’d wager that for the average family, it’s impractical to offer that as a reasonable alternative.

    But, again, it's a tough topic to discuss because it ultimately comes down to opinion more than anything else... and yeah, I'm still developing mine. Numbers are more my forte. :)

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    1. RKen - good afternoon and welcome to the debate :-)

      You make some great points. I knew the slavery issue would come up since obviously this is a post about states rights. I chose to intentionally leave it out, however, based on the fact that I believe it's an irrelevant issue in post slavery society we live in. "Modern" Federalism, as I have chosen to call it, purports this very society of "now" as opposed to "then." I truly believe that slavery in our country has been stomped out, and that it's a non-issue. People do change, and with many changes, they don't go back... this is an issue I believe holds true. There are other issues besides slavery where this applies. In colonial times, for example, young women married and were subjected to marriage well before the legal age of consent laws we have now. I don't believe we should be going forth with the worry that we will be returning to these antiquated society-held laws any time soon. That being said, however, the Constitution, when changed (as scarce as that is), does protect for federal rights above all states rights, and a means to change this does exist. Say, for example, the 13th Amendment didn't exist, and for some crazy reason, under the notion of states' rights, Texas enacts slavery. Say, as well, it's the only one to do so. While that state does have the right to choose how it governs itself, via the Constitution, and the methods it decrees for Amendments, popular majority of the nation as a whole would rule. We all certainly respect the Constitution, and this is an example of how Modern Federalism protects states rights while respecting the limited rights the Constitution grants.

      I will still put, above all things, the rights of the people to rule themselves, and I do think a mix of direct democracy states and a representative democracy federal government is they way to do so. While yes, abhorrent notions of prohibiting of marriage or the personal consumption of food or drugs seems like the ultimate infringement of freedom, by whom do these rights exist if not for the citizens that grant them? Abhorrence, while abhorrent to us, is still of the eye of the beholder, and abhorrence, while unnatural and freakish to us, is not under the rule of one man. As a collective, society should decide how it lives.

      As far as "like it or leave it..." I do believe in this. Again, if Maryland passed a bunch of laws I loathed, and I can't leave, won't I just be living in a state I deplore? What other solution do I have? I'm not saying people MUST leave, I'm saying by granting various states the ability to decide their laws themselves, the opportunity is there for societies to shape their ways. Maybe it should be "like it, leave it, or live it?" I in no way have the power to stop the majority from enacting their will. My rights do not come from me, and if the majority speaks, they speak. :-)

      This is a subject I read about almost daily... the delegation of "power," "rights" and the notion that the majority, though potentially oppressive, should be able to govern, as a collective, how it sees fit. If not, who really has control? The minority? That is just impossible. The individual? Not at all. Only through the collective views of a majority can laws on any kind, (as universal as the prohibition of murder, or as somewhat accepted and controversial, like same sex-marriage) be upheld, respected, and protected, and only through the majority can order be maintained.

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    2. If we take away the ability of the people to govern, how is order maintained. While yes, I completely understand that the founding fathers created our system with a protection for the minority to not be abused, hurt, and obliterated by the majority, I think those notions are not as prevalent in a large, 50-state system. Some might view the prohibition of gay marriage as "abuse" and hurtful. Some people might hold on to the prohibition of gay marriage as an absolute to the end. In this 50/50 split, whose view takes precedent? Gay marriage proponents say, "how dare you" in the face of gay marriage opponents who shout the same. To me, the compromise is to let the people decide, and naturally, there will be local societies (states) that still live under a national flag without infringing on the rights of others who choose to live as they wish, too.

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    3. Good afternoon to you as well LME. :)

      Interesting debate; certainly have made very fair and well-thought out points. It would be very interesting to see a serious debate like this on a national level, but it seems to be a rather rare discussion.

      In the end, I think I still believe that the original view I expressed is closest to the ideals I have for this country and how the system should work. People of a given state are allowed to vote on and pass any legislation they wish, so long as it does not violate federal law and it is passed by the decision of the majority. Likewise, if the majority of the states seem to agree in a given piece of legislation being enacted on a federal level for the better of the nation, then it should be within the power of the federal government to do so (though, very much a case-by-case basis).

      As a side-note, this seems to be more strongly supported by Libertarian party than the Republicans. There have been many calls for the GOP to institute federal laws on such topics as abortion, marriage, etc.

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    4. Yes, this definitely is a great debate... and in all honestly, we don't seem far apart on it :-)

      You said: "In the end, I think I still believe that the original view I expressed is closest to the ideals I have for this country and how the system should work. People of a given state are allowed to vote on and pass any legislation they wish, so long as it does not violate federal law and it is passed by the decision of the majority. Likewise, if the majority of the states seem to agree in a given piece of legislation being enacted on a federal level for the better of the nation, then it should be within the power of the federal government to do so (though, very much a case-by-case basis). "

      And that kind of summarizes what I believe. Though I do ask, if gay marriage (trust me, this piece really has nothing to do with gay marriage, and I actually have no problems with it - it's just a very relevant topic), if the federal government never protects it, is that okay?

      And while yes, I'm against abortion (okay with,.. I don't use the word "pro" gay marriage), the Constitution says absolutely nothing about it. I wouldn't want any party, left or right, regulating it via the supreme law of the land.

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    5. I might add that I think it's neat for you to be formulating your views on this issue. I wish more people would. This is just one take, and I'd never argue it's the right take. I do believe that this is, in my opinion, the best take... but of course, it is my opinion. And yes, there is more to come :)

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    6. Seems we're on the same page then. :)

      Per your question: I certainly believe that gay marriage should be a right, but I stand by what I said. Until the time comes where the majority of the states agree on the issue, I'm not sure that the federal government should really be stepping in here. I would certainly love to see all states embrace it as a right of equality (separate but equal is a failed concept), but despite feeling that way, I do believe that the system works best if the federal government only steps in on a majority principle as opposed to it simply being the wishes of a minority (or possibly even just the current party in power).

      At the same time though, a decent part of the reason why I feel rather comfortable with this, is it almost seems to be an inevitable eventuality at this point in any case. Statistical analysis/polling of this subject over the past 10 years have shown a dramatic shift in favor of gay marriage acceptance that is likely to continue into the coming years. I feel rather confident that it will be accepted by the majority within the next 10 years or so.

      Agnostic here as well, by the way, though I think I might’ve mentioned that before.

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    7. I think this will be where the country goes, too. And luckily for the USA, we have means by which we enact change. I still think any of these issues should always be states' rights issues. I believe that protects those that don't feel the same way we do, whether it be with gay marriage, drugs, abortion, guns, etc.

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  7. This is wildly controversial but an awesome debate at the same time.

    I have to admit, I find myself in complete agreement with the author. This about it. I know it's tough to put down because we are so preprogrammed with this notion of rights, but they are only granted by US if we choose to grant them. Let me use an example that might hit people more: alcohol.

    Suppose Tennessee, my state, got rid of alcohol altogether, and it punished people severely for possessing or consuming it. For me, I LOVE beer! Love it. What about my rights? I should be able to drink whatever the hell I want. So what do I do?

    This article is just saying that the states should choose these things. In my example, I'd leave. I'd have to. But if a law like this was passed on a national level (as with drug laws), I can't go somewhere, drink beer, and still be American. That's all this article is saying. If I can't afford to leave, then I must respect the law of the land. I do agree with modern federalism working this way, and I'm glad it has been spelled out so clearly.

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  8. Forbidden Fruit 19111November 20, 2012 at 12:47 PM

    GREAT writing!

    I think I can sum up this article the best: How do we, in a majority-driven society, ensure the rights of the minority are protected?

    The answer of this post: You protect the OPPORTUNITY of the minority to centralize in whatever place they want, so that they can live as they wish, and, most importantly, become the majority in the community they chose. That makes sure they can have their way, and I can have mine, and the two sides won't hurt each other because it's done by THEIR OWN CHOOSING.

    I really respect this notion. Thank you for writing about it. And no, anonymous guy from TN, don't take away my beer!

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    1. OUTSTANDING, Forbidden!

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