Federalism and the City State, or a New Civil War

By 1860 our country was so hopelessly divided that it broke up, and only by force was it kept unified. While the North and South had profound political, economic, and moral differences, institutional slavery being paramount, the two halves had a great deal in common, so much so that after the bloodletting and rage subsided, we were able to come back together, let bygones be bygones, and live together in mutual respect. More or less.

I’ll join any condemnation of Union atrocities and will not sit quietly while revisionists paint the Union army as an avenging angel doing God’s work trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath were stored i.e. the South. The conduct of too many Union generals and soldiers was vile. But, in fairness, it was war after all, and our resistance to the invasion so tenacious that the North ultimately chose to wage total war to win it.

But one thing I can say about the bluecoats was that they were not trying to overthrow a common sense understanding of human nature. They were not seeking the removal of God from public discourse, the establishment of the welfare state, sexual liberation, abortion, so-called gay marriage, or the feminisation of the military. While we had profound differences, we shared the same core values.

The unity that was established after that war by and large remains between the Old North and the Old South throughout America’s Town & Country country. The new geographic division is between America’s mega-cities and this same Town & Country.

But vastly more ominous is the contest between two worldviews, secular and Christian, which has resulted in the elimination of virtually all common ground.

My question is, how can any form of government umbrella two such hopelessly irreconcilable worldviews as well as this new geographic division between Town & Country and Mega-City?

It would seem to me that a return to the original federalism where the states can once again challenge the federal government is the only way to keep two disparate peoples at least nominally united under the same constitution. That is, under a federal system California could become a socialist utopia and Tennessee could remain backwards but at least litter free. But our constitution does not address the new elephant in the room. What is to keep Nashville from doing to Tennessee what Chicago has done to Illinois and what New York City long ago did to the state of New York?

It is said that the ancient Roman Republic finally collapsed in part because the constitution that it had developed in its early years and that had guided it so brilliantly for so long, ultimately wasn’t able to stand the strain of Rome’s extraordinary success. Another factor was the inevitability of changing times that the founders of that republic could simply not have imagined much less accounted for.

Today in our country, time and changing circumstances have produced massive societal forces that are at loggerheads.

A return to federalism could relieve the tension between the states. As to the rising tension between some of the states and their respective Mega-Cities, I agree with those suggesting a constitutional change that allows for the existence of semi-autonomous city states. Just something to think about.

I can hear the people of Illinois cheering the idea.

M.C. Atkins

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