So, today, here’s a little of my own theoretical musing, a little something that I’ve noticed and can’t help but share about.
In the middle of stores closing down, people figuring out new ways to make money, fears, sickness, media lies, media truths, confusion about what to believe, government mandated “shelter-in-place”, and—-have I missed something?—-there’s something we should all stop and consider. Perhaps it’s just the political nerd in me that would call something like this beautiful, but I truly believe it is.
Have you noticed the way that this whole virus “apocalypse” has been playing out? Really, think about it. What makes this crisis stand out from other crises throughout American history?
Ok, let me help you. I live in N.C. where our statewide mandated “Shelter-in-Place” just went into effect this past Monday evening. Prior to that, counties in N.C. had been mandating county-wide “Shelter-in-Place” laws. Many other states have begun to do the same. Not all, but many, and each state has their own unique way of doing this, right? Every state’s law is different and tailored to their state’s specific needs. Every state’s law has a different way of punishing violators. Some states haven’t felt the need to mandate the “Shelter-in-Place” law yet because their coronavirus cases are limited. The local police are the ones handling the enforcement of these laws and every city/county/state handles their police force and enforcement as needed for their specific community. Some states are starting to close their borders, while others are still allowing “foreigners”.
And what is the federal government doing?
Supporting, encouraging, lending a hand here and there, and giving some funds (let’s try to ignore the massive stimulus package for a second) to states or local governments.
But really, the federal government is doing very little. It is not mandating a nationwide “Shelter-in-Place” or enforcing martial law thereby fully activating the U.S. military and national guard. No, in case you hadn’t noticed, our federal government is actually playing hands off beautifully. It is allowing the states to handle themselves, just as the founders wanted.
Federalism at Its Peak
Listen, this really is crazy. When the United States was first created, the states considered themselves “nation-states”. Get that? So, they were, for all intents and purposes, their own nations. In other countries, the “states” were called provinces, or territories because they were supposed to be distinguished from the “state” or the nation under which they existed. However, the states in the United States did not want to take those other labels because they considered themselves a “state”, not a province. In other words, they considered themselves, a “nation-state”.
And thus the “United States of America” were formed. Thirteen separate but united “nation-states” that would support and respect a federal government, as long as that federal government stayed within the confines of its Constitution. The significance of this cannot be understated. The federal government’s power was limited because of the states. There was no need for so much federal power when the local and state government could take care of their own citizens in the best way possible. And this was key because it prevented a federal tyranny.
We’ve really departed from this mindset over time, and the federal government has just become more and more bloated with power. It has started mandating nationwide laws that are not tailored to the specific needs of every unique town, county, city or state. These laws just end up harming some areas while helping others. Most federal laws end up making things worse rather than better because they are just too broad. And every crisis has only fueled this bloating. Once the federal government takes the power, it never gives it back.
What’s Happening Today?
But take a moment, step back and look at what is happening now, during this current crisis. Every state is operating as its own country. Each state is choosing whether or not to close its own borders, issue its own laws, enforce its own laws, and fund its own programs (granted, with some federal help here). There is no grand federal lock down, where everyone in the country is forced, regardless of the unique needs of that community, to subject themselves to the federal law.
And isn’t this just beautiful?
This, this, is the way the founders wanted this country to work. This is how it should be. The states know much better how to handle their communities and believe me, as soon as the federal government takes the power to shut down state borders, issue a national “Shelter-in-Place” , or mandate martial law…there’s no going back. But, for now, the federal government is playing hands off. And it’s wonderful. Let the states handle the issue in the way they see fit, as any nation-state should.
And I know. There are many of you who are fed up with your state governments for their overreaches in power. But, guess what? Every state government will either be lauded or punished for their actions come November. We get to see which states handled things better and why, and which states handled things worse and why. States can always be reigned in, the federal government cannot.
And yet, there are citizens who are whining for the federal government to step in and force the states to do more.
Please, just stop.
Don’t ruin the silver lining in this whole ordeal. We’re blessed with the opportunity to actually watch federalism work as it should, let’s not ruin that by demanding for the big guns to come in, because once they do, they’ll never go back.
It’s almost like we’re in a twilight zone. Somehow, America is walking through one of it’s greatest potential crises ever and the federal government hasn’t taken full advantage yet.
Let’s keep it that way friends.
It truly is a thing to be thankful for. Go, remind your friends—who are complaining and demanding more federal government—about the beauty of local government. Ask them, when has the federal government ever truly fixed something? Why do we keep going back to the one source that we end up criticizing and blaming in the end?
No. Let’s try something new this time. Let’s enjoy the fact that the federal government is overseeing but keeping their hands off and allowing the states to handle their own business. If we do, hey, we may just make it.
The Liberty Belle