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Thoughts on the cultural political geography of America

On Behalf of | Mar 31, 2022 | Firm News |

It is now well established that increasingly we live close to others who share our political preferences.

No one plans to get an abortion before getting an unexpected pregnancy and so it is unlikely that people will choose to live in a state because they could get an abortion.   We know however that the LGBT community flocks to blue states for opportunity and safety just as African Americans traveled north in the 20th century for similar reasons.

People want to live in a place that provides economic opportunity but also where people share their values.  If the next fifty years make working remotely much more common, then economics will become a less significant reason to move to a state.   Of course, people consider the climate, presence of family, and enjoyable activities more than these other issues when moving.  But the separation of Americans by political values will only increase.

The long-term implications of such demographic segregation by state are sobering when considering the future political stability of our federalist system.  Already many liberals decry the Senate and the electoral college for its anti-democratic results.   The Democratic candidate for President remains more likely to win the majority of votes in the national elections but can still lose the electoral college.  Senators from sparsely populated states have the power to block legislation that a majority of Americans support.

I support maintaining our federalist system and not amending the constitution to reduce the power of rural states.   The Framers were very concerned with the power of the majority to ride roughshod over minority rights in historical democracies.  “Minority” of course does not in this context refer to race – but to a smaller number of people who hold a view.

Our federalist system was designed precisely to make legislation very hard to enact and to give “small states” power to block enacting laws.   Remember reading about the “Virginia plan” and the “New Jersey plan” in 11th grade US history?   The rights of states with smaller populations were a hot political topic in 1789.  It is becoming hot again.

I suggest we not mess with the electoral college and the selection of Senators.  Our system got us to where we are — the oldest Republic in the world and a country where people wait years and risk life and limb to emigrate to.   The unintended consequences of promoting democracy by eliminating federalism could be devastating to our political stability.