It’s that time of the election year. Political pundits and activists are spilling liquids on their laptops – wine, if they are celebrating, or tears, if they are lamenting. Either way, it’s good that Black Friday is just around the corner – they may be in the market for a new computer.
At HotAir.com, commentators are overjoyed that their party controls the Senate. At DailyKos, commentators are disappointed.
While reading the comments at DailyKos, I realized something: the losing side of any given election become frustrated that the other party will use the power of the federal government to harm the people on the losing side. The power of the federal government to punish one person’s choices and reward another has become extremely polarizing, to the point that someone on the losing side will invariably float the idea of “seceding from the nation,” so that they can live in peace.
I was able to find a comment on tonight’s DailyKos (liberal) thread that mentioned secession, after the Republicans took control of the Senate, as well similar comments on HotAir’s (conservative) thread on November 7th, 2012, after (Democratic) President Obama won the 2012 presidential election.
And the posters who didn’t mention secession were seething with frustration that someone from the Other Party is going to make huge decisions that affect them, and probably lower their own quality of life and happiness.
So why is our nation so polarized after an election? Why don’t voters feel empowered?
Because you aren’t really represented in your government.
Oh, sure, you might live in a place where your preferred party has a representative. But do you believe that person has your unique problems in mind? Who funds your representative? If he’s a Republican, his funds come from Republican party or some other national politically conservative group. If your representative is Democratic, her funds come from the Democratic party, or another national politically Democratic group.
Either way, does your candidate remember his voters when he goes to Washington, DC.? Doubtful, at best. When he appears on TV, which title comes first, the name of the people who voted for him, or his party?
When I watch television, or read the news, it’s usually “the Democratic Senator from Illinois” or “the Republican Senator from Louisiana.” Or, it might be “the Senate Majority Leader” or “the Speaker of the House” or “the Vice President.”
Rarely do you ever hear “The Illinois Senator” or “The Louisianan Senator.”
We say a politician’s power is derived from the people. But they are always presented as government officials or political party members. Each politician is more concerned with power, money, and getting reelected. He or she is not serving the voters who helped them get the job.
Now, some propose fixing this lack of representation with campaign finance reform. I agree this idea is good in theory. But in practice, it grants victory to the side with the most money to spend on lawyers. As John Stossel explains in an ABC 20/20 video, US campaign finance law made it was easy for wealthy politicians with powerful lawyers to bankrupt their opponents using lawsuits and fines.
So how can a vote mean anything, if every voter shares a president with 370 million other people, and a senator with ~3.7 million voters? Are all of your interests really represented by those of 370 million other people?
There is a solution to this problem. And it doesn’t have to involve secession.
First, a question: Which level of government has more power to help you, and which has more power to harm you?
A local city or county government is most likely to sympathize with local issues and provide help, but state and federal governments have more power to take away property and liberty.
Instead of concentrating so much power in the federal government, where 51% of voters uses it to harm the other 49%, we should concentrate power in local governments. We should allow cities and counties to raise taxes up to 50%, and cap state and federal income taxes at 5% each. Five percent is more than enough to pay for national defense or transportation projects. Then, each voter simply moves to the nearest city or county sharing his or her preferred views. Instead of fearing and dreading national elections, a voter would be able to rejoice that 60% to 90% of his neighbors vote the same way.
Under this kind of system, it’s easy to acquire the government policies you want. Want more assistance for the poor, and higher taxes? Just move to a big city. Want lower taxes, and limited government interference in the economy? Just move to a rural county.
Some believe Democrats should object to this system, because they claim that welfare programs and Keynesian economic policies only work when everyone is forced to pay the same tax rate. I would counter argue that millionaires often live in large cities, and many Democrats believe these tax increases don’t really bother millionaires. Democrats also often note that rural Republican states might be net drain on the federal government, taking in more subsidies instead of making net tax payments. So why would Democrats want to continue to subsidize rural areas?
There’s no need for secession to gain representation. But it is time to minimize the federal government, and allow city and county governments to have more power to help their constituents.