Recent events should make clear that the consolidation of power in central governments is producing a pressure-cooker effect. By making every facet of life a national issue, these powerful central governments are ensuring large numbers of their citizenry become dissatisfied with being ruled in accordance with the wishes of others. The results of yesterday’s referendum in Scotland produced this question in coverage by the Daily Telegraph:
While Scotland has decided it is also this morning divided, with more than 1.6 million Scots forced to remain in a political union they voted to leave. How can they be re-integrated into the political process?
To put that in perspective, the “Yes” vote for Scottish independence from the United Kingdom achieved 44.7 percent of the vote. So nearly half of all Scots have come to believe their interests would be better served outside of the 300-year-old Union than they are within it. This is what happens in a centralized approach to governance where politicians in a city hundreds of miles away can determine every detail of how local life is lived. This is indeed a serious–and potentially dangerous–political challenge. And lest anyone think this is only a problem in the United Kingdom:
Some 23.9 percent of Americans polled from Aug. 23 through Sept. 16 said they strongly supported or tended to support the idea of their state breaking away, while 53.3 percent of the 8,952 respondents strongly opposed or tended to oppose the notion.
The urge to sever ties with Washington cuts across party lines and regions, though Republicans and residents of rural Western states are generally warmer to the idea than Democrats and Northeasterners, according to the poll.
This development, which no doubt will shock many, is a result of the same dynamic: a polarized electorate forced to reside in a “winner takes all” style of national governance that routinely disregards the wishes of a substantial portion of the population.
The answer to this is simple: a devolution of power to the local level. Let Scots decide how Scots live; Texans how Texans will live, and so on. There’s a word for this: Federalism. The Founders understood that a one-size-fits all solution rarely does in reality. That’s why the 10th Amendment reserves all powers not specifically delegated to the Federal government to “the States… or the people.” If we still lived by this principle you wouldn’t have unelected bureaucrats in
D.C. Mordor deciding everything from what light bulbs we can use to how many gallons per toilet flush. That, of course, is merely the tip of a VERY large iceberg — an iceberg that will sink this ship of state if something doesn’t change.
People get along much better when they don’t think the “other” is trying to lord it over them. Our
leaders rulers don’t like the idea of devolving power, because it reduces theirs. But if they don’t get the message soon, ballots won’t be the last indicator of frustration, I suspect.
UPDATE: more thoughts on the subject of federalism here.