BY: Robert Tracinski | The Federalist
The past few decades’s worth of trench warfare on Capitol Hill is driven by a wider national conflict of values. It is driven by the contrast between the coastal states and big population centers, where people generally want a much bigger and more intrusive government that redistributes a lot of our money—versus Southern, Western, and “heartland” states that want smaller government and more personal responsibility, self-reliance, and private charity. So we’re constantly deadlocked on the federal level, where politicians usually prove capable neither of expanding the welfare state nor of reducing it or reforming it in any meaningful way.
Why not give up fighting on the federal level and just agree to disagree?
Out here in the hinterland, we’ll let Massachusetts be Massachusetts, and we’ll let California be California and New York be New York. But we’d like them to return the favor. New York should have the decency to let Kansas be Kansas, and not feel the need to write books about what’s the matter with them.
At this point, some coastal elite will trot out the usual snarky comment about how the “red states” benefit from a national-level welfare system because the “blue states” pay more of the taxes while the red states have more poor people. Well, then you shouldn’t mind us opting out of that system and relieving you of the burden, should you?
But there’s the rub. They are no doubt worried about competition. They are worried that a lot of us—particularly those who embrace the creed of self-reliance—will conclude that the red states are much better places to live and work and start a businesses. In fact, it’s already happening, with an exodus of Yankees headed South, of manufacturers in search of non-unionized labor, of Californians headed for Arizona, or New Yorkers headed for the Florida is quest of a lower cost of living and no state income tax.
That’s one of the reasons why we had the system of federalism in the first place—to let the states be “laboratories of democracy” that adopt slightly different models of government, for which citizens can vote with their feet. Perhaps the coastal states, for all their smug superiority, are afraid that their model of government is not as attractive as they imagine. But why shouldn’t they be required to put their system to a test? The friendly competition between states would certainly be a lot less stressful to our political system than turning every political issue into a game of thermonuclear war on the floor of Congress.