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Author Topic: Sectionalism in America
Baptist
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The idea of sectionalism in modern America sort of frightens me in a way. When I talk about sectionalism, I'm refering to how America is becoming increasingly divided between conservatives and liberals.

Conservatives and liberals greatly differ on issues such as abortion, gun control, sexual issues, religion, etc. These differences have often fueled tensions that may one day explode into violence. I don't wish to see another War Between the States. Where can there be a compromise?

My compromise is states' rights. Give states the right to nullify whatever particular Federal law that the state government and people deem unconstitutional. The right for states to nullify is granted in the 9th and 10th Amendments. I believe that this is one solution to sectionalism.

We also need to keep the electoral college. It is there to protect states' rights. Most of the conservative states(West and South) have smaller populations than the liberal states(North East and West Coast) and need equal representation. As a conservative, I wouldn't want larger, liberal states ruling over me.

Any thoughts?


Posts: 232 | From: Woodbridge, Virginia, USA | Registered: Mar 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
SlowCookie
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I would think that giving states more rights would lead to a greater divide. The States are supposed to be United... under the same laws and beliefs as the government in which they both belong. Now if certain laws are amended or nullified, wouldn't that increase sectionalism between states since these differences would be so clearly defined? In what way does more states'rights decrease sectionalism?

Let's see... "Hey, I like slavery and you like slavery too. It makes us alot of money. So how about we get together and split from the Union since we don't agree with its laws?"

Weren't the Confederate states the ones who were strong proponents of states' rights? Isn't this one of the reasons why they lost the war? They were so pro-rights that Davis couldn't get the individual states to unite and fight for the survival of the Confederacy itself. Why do that when your only concern is for your state? Wasn't it also that he couldn't actually unite the states into a confederacy and say, "You guys can't secede if you don't agree the laws, okay?"

Bright idea. It surely worked out well.

The electoral college is great. Look at all the fun we had in the last election. If it was up to popular vote, we wouldn't be so lucky as to have such an intelligent man for our president.

I wish I was Canadian. =)

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[This message has been edited by SlowCookie (edited 04-24-2001).]


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Dzuunmod
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I don't know why you like the electoral college, Baptist. Isn't it based on population anyway? So, then, where's the advantage in it for the smaller states?

Finally, it seems like you're saying that larger states shouldn't have more of a say than smaller ones. I've always thought that it seemed pretty anti-democratic, that in the States, every state -- regardless of population -- got the same number of senators. Why should tiny Wyoming, with fewer than a million people, get the same seat at the table as giant California, with over 30 million?


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Lynne
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The way to balance power between the large and small states is an issue that's been around since the US was founded, Dzuumond. The compromise that was struck then was to create the House and the Senate, and to have one be based on population and the other simply have a flat number of representatives per state.

I think that the current system, where states can do whatever they want provided that they don't violate the U.S. Constitution, works well. It gives the states rights, but keeps them from trampling over the basic rights of their citizens in the process. (I'd tweak the Constitution a bit if it were up to me, to really make sure that the rights of individual citizens were completely protected... but it's not. Oh well.) It's not perfect, but then democracy is a terrible way to run a country (particularly one as large as the U.S.) -- it's just better than everything else humanity has come up with so far.

One little thing that irks me and that I have to point out, though: the political spectrum in the United States extends beyond "liberal" and "conservative." It's possible to not fit into either category. (And yes, this is a pet peeve of mine, mostly because I'm one of those people who's not really a liberal or a conservative.)

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Gaffer
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Plus, there would be mass migrations of people moving to states with more liberal laws or more conservative laws--further seperating the groups.
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ThisGuy
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As far as your "equal representation" comment goes, isn't that the purpose of democratic elections? My understanding was that whatever the majority voted for went - not whatever the majority from here, and a few people from there, plus 112 people from this place...

I also think state law is farcical in the US. County laws are even worse - county statutes vary markedly from place to place! Why have so many distinctions? The states really aren't that different...

In Australia, the States have certain, fixed responsibilities, dictated by the Constitution. For instance, foreign affairs is a Federal matter, while road rules are largely run by each state. I'm only broadly familiar with the US Constitution, but I'll assume its effectively the same, excluding the nullification issue.

Australia has 6 states, and 2 territories. The laws are different between them, but not to the same extent as in the US.

Compare that to the mainland US - with major differences between states, and even between adjacent counties!

What's the point? How does that enhance your freedom?

As an outsider, I find the US legislative system to be somewhat bizarre in its anarchic complexity. ;p

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Baptist
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I would just like to make the following points:

1. It's not a question of giving states more rights. They have certain rights guaranteed to them in the Constitution. It would unite the country further because everyone would have equal representation.

2. By the 1850s slavery was no longer a viable source of income. The institution was becoming a libability to planters. The fact is that new methods of farming and producing, plus the exorbitant cost of caring for slaves simply made the practice obsolete.

3. The electoral college gives equal representation to all states. It is somewhat based on population, but all states have at least three electoral votes. This "stop gap" was put in place to help protect the minority.

4. America is NOT a democracy. America is a Constitutional Republic. Democracy is bad. Mob rule does not exist in America, nor should it.

5. States' rights give us more freedom because it allows us to live in a state that who's population shares your similar beliefs.

Amendment 9:
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment 10:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

[This message has been edited by Baptist (edited 04-25-2001).]

[This message has been edited by Miz Scarlet (edited 04-25-2001).]


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Mary
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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist:
Most of the conservative states(West and South) have smaller populations than the liberal states(North East and West Coast) and need equal representation. As a conservative, I wouldn't want larger, liberal states ruling over me.

So you don't want sectionalism... You just want each SIDE to be equal? Is that not sectionalism right there? I thought the goal was for our states to be united and compromise. I guess I just don't agree with your way of "fixing" things. Oh well, that's what makes our country diverse. And diversity rocks! Take care.

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BruinDan
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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist:
States' rights give us more freedom because it allows us to live in a state that who's population shares your similar beliefs.

Ummm....yeeahh....does this sound like "sectionalism" to anyone else? Let's think about this for a moment. People all flock to a state with a population that shares their beliefs. So now we have a completely factionalized America. Can anyone say "Civil War?"

Really Baptist, state laws are fine as they are now. They allow for a reasonable amount of flexibility while still being framed within the original guidelines of the US Constitution. Bear in mind that we once had a constitutional framework that was in favor of states' rights over a broad national government. It was called the Articles of Confederation, and was an abysmal failure. States have enough leeway as they are now, expanding their authority will only separate us more.

And Mary is right. In the City, County, and State I live in...I am a minority. I live with people who are different from me and who have different values. And living alongside people who are different from me has been an enriching experience that has allowed me to visualize life from a variety of perspectives that I would not otherwise see and understand. People benefit from diversity. Moving to a place where everyone is just like you does you no favors in the grand scheme of things.

--Danny


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Confused boy
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OK this will test your faith in your belief in local autonomy, Baptist. Hypothetically (I believe this situation could only happen when weather reports predict a snow storm in Hades), what if there was a state with a majority of Communist voters in it. So they formed and elected a Communist local government that set about making Socialist laws such as nationalising (well not the whole nation but owned by the public) state services. Im not saying Im opposed to this. I think it would be terrific to have a Communist state as one of the so called "United States." My point is, if you wish the majority of conservative voters to have more of a say in some states, are you willing to respect the decisions of another set of people with completely different political beliefs in states just adjacent to yours?
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Allicat1
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"America is NOT a democracy. America is a Constitutional Republic. Democracy is bad. Mob rule does not exist in America, nor should it."
America is a democracy...I can't remember the right term but it's something like a representative democracy, meaning that the people elect representative who in turn vote in the interest of the people. Man, i wish i payed more attention in my political science class

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Baptist
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1. There may never be an end to sectionalism itself, but I believe that we can help to keep it from getting out of control by recognizing states' rights. States can have differences and still be united.

2. I'm not talking about making states their own countries, I'm simply promoting the 9th and 10th Amendments.

3. Confusedboy,
The leftists already have states that are well voiced: California, New York, Hawaii, most of New England, etc. These states have higher populations than most, so getting rid of the electoral college would give the liberals the election almost every time. These states may do as they wish as long as they don't violate the Constitution.

4. Allicat1,
America is a Constitutional Republic.

DEMOCRACY: based on mob rule and doesn't include a constitution. Under democracy, the law is malleable and may constantly change with the will of the people. It eliminates moral absolutes because public opinion sways legal procedure and law to come within compliance of current dogma. It opens the possibility of corrupting statutes ad infinitum. Thus is allows government the opportunity for mischief.

REPUBLIC: a state governed by a written law (constitution). Laws are absolute and defined. Through it we have an inculcated principal in laws as written by the framers of those laws. Its that simple. In the United States, the founding fathers created a Constitutional Republic. Period.


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Shadow Stalker
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I fail to see how the electoral college balances out anything. All the big liberal states have the most votes in the electoral college, how does this make things more even for the smaller interior states? The electoral college is an archaic institution that is not needed. It was created by a bunch of aristrocratic englishman who felt that the public really shouldn't be the deciding factor in who gets to be the president. That, the average man didn't know enough to *really* decide who should get to be the president. The popular vote should be enough to decide who the president should be, and if places who have more population have more influence, well, that's life!
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Gaffer
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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist:

5. States' rights give us more freedom because it allows us to live in a state that who's population shares your similar beliefs

How much more segregated can you get?

I would also like to point out that despite the "well voiced" liberalism in many of the states you pointed out there are conservative people and in between people in those states who are being represented. The same goes for states that are portrayed to be or seem more conservative, like oh say Arizona. The political minority does get represented--one of the key elements in a constitutional republic.

Oh, and did you really say that democracy gives the goverment the opportunity to make mischief? What do you think the CIA, FBI, NSA and all those other three letter abbreviations are up to?

[This message has been edited by Gaffer (edited 05-02-2001).]


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ThisGuy
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So, basically, what you're saying is that its fine for elections to be biased towards certain segments of the population, provided its biased in directions you like? ;p

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Aquamarine
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The vestiges of US History material are slowly filtering through my brain again. Oh, right! Nullification and sectionalism--two things that were closely tied to the Civil War. Jacksonian democracy, it's all coming back to me now You seem very connected to the South, Baptist.

The southern states, South Carolina in particular, used nullification as one of the bases for seceding from the Union. It's a Constitutional right, yes. Could overuse lead to another nationwide conflict? Possibly. It's happened before, as we all know Funky.

Yes, I believe that the states shouldn't be oppressed by the national government, but that there should be some balance of power. And to maintain a balance of power, isn't some kind of overhead national government useful? :: gets suddenly tired from remembering too much history... ::

Remember that the United States was not first based on Constitutional laws, but ruled by the Articles of Confederation. The flawed Articles of Confederation promoted states' rights and provided for a very crippled national government. And it was discarded in favor of the Constitution, which has been in place for centuries. So I'm just going to stop thinking now and hope that what I said made a little bit of sense...

(Oh yes, I'm also going to add that the notion of solely "equal representation" has always seemed a little weird to me. Population-based voting appears to be a logical way to conduct elections. I think the bicameral system is pretty darn cool. I love compromises. So, anyway, I pretty much agree with Lynne. Now I'm done.)


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Clav
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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist:

3. Confusedboy... these states have higher populations than most, so getting rid of the electoral college would give the liberals the election almost every time...
4. Allicat1... Under democracy, the law is malleable and may constantly change with the will of the people. It eliminates moral absolutes ...


I'm not from the US, so can't really comment on the electoral college system etc (apart from saying how well it worked this time round!). But
1) If you had proportional representation, why is it such a bad thing that the majority would have their way? A good government represents the will of the people so if the people got in who were doing that, whats the prob, as long as opposition acted as a strong sounding block to make people think more. Assuming a government is not corrupt and is working for the good of its people (to be fair I don't think any government in recent times could be accused of that though , so maybe that is too much of an ideal).
2) There ARE NO moral absolutes. I've seen enough debates here, many with you in it, to realise that. A moral absolute would suggest 'one way' is correct, which is not true b/c of different people's opinions. That's why laws change (eg equal opps for all, decriminalisation of homosexuality, decrim. of cannabis being looked at in the UK etc). Peoples views do change. Even religious rules have changed over the years (well, western religions anyway, not so much in east), so you can't even argue 'the law should be god's law' b/c do you honestly know what it REALLY is, as opposed to what implications from and editing of the bible are made to make it more appropriate at different times. And, of course, that would also be assuming christians were correct in their choice of diety.
Calvin
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Dzuunmod
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This page seems to be all about what you're saying in terms of the 'democracy' v. 'republic' debate, Baptist. However, the person who put it together also recognizes that there's more than one, single, precise meaning for the word 'democracy'.

If you look at the 2nd meaning of it on the page, you'll see that it also refers to 'a political unit that has democractic principles'. Perhaps you don't think of America as such - I really don't know - but I'm sure most Americans do, and for me, that's enough to be able to refer to America as a democracy.

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