by Missouri State Rep. Ed Emery, Joplin Independent
It is federal, because it is the government of States united in a political union, in contradistinction to a government of individuals, that is, by what is usually called, a social compact.To express it more concisely, it is federal and not national because it is the government of a community of States, and not the government of a single State or Nation.
–John C. Calhoun
Two hundred and thirty-three years ago, a group of men from states with different ideas and strengths convened to design a new form of civil government. Federalism emerged as the compact that became the U.S. Constitution. Federalism provided the protection of a central government while protecting the individualism and creativity of each state.
Delegates from the colonies engaged in lengthy debate and settled on what powers they would relinquish to a central government. Everything else they left to the states to decide and govern separately.
The 10th Amendment became the codification of such an understanding: “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.”
Federalism was the ideal model for improvement because it acknowledged each state as a laboratory of ideas. No state had a monopoly on good public policy. States retained autonomy over education, business, religion, over how to address healthcare or poverty.
None of these issues were debated to consensus as a part of the Compact, so the federation was granted no power over them. Such a system of government fosters experimentation and change. It is the governing structure of entrepreneurs, pioneers, and idealists.
A national government, on the other hand is the opposite of federalism. It reduces statehood to geography and fosters political posturing and prejudice. Such a governing structure is designed to protect and promote the status quo.
It is by nature a hindrance to change because there are no “state-laboratories,” no places to test new ideas or debunk old ones. Once nationalized, public policy becomes the best by default, not by performance.
Washington D.C. is actively indoctrinating America away from federalism and toward a nationalistic government – one size fits all. We must not stand idly by and allow Missouri to be swept up into failed public policies against our will just because a political elite demands that we conform.
America did not begin as a nation of conformists, nor will it survive as such.
America’s exceptionalism is rooted in individualism and the free flow of competing ideas, not in the genius of a monarch. As Missourians and Americans we must remember our roots, actively defend our Constitution(s), and promote Missouri ideas via our state legislative process. I believe Missourians do not want California, New York, or Chicago deciding our policies or our fate.