The Issue of Federal vs State Politics in USA Mainstream Discourse
Federal vs State politics in USA mainstream news is often sensitive and tendentious. One reason for this is that the conflict between states rights vs federal control has been around since the founding of the United States. In one way or another, this conflict affects issues regarding the Federal Reserve, Federal programs, civil rights, public education, healthcare, law, state regulations and just about anything else politicians can think of.
Tracing the history of Federal vs State politics in USA mainstream discourse requires to philosophical foundations of the United States. In the early history of the U.S., the philosophical foundations the country was fiercely being debated by two opposing factions, the Federalist Party, which was led Alexander Hamilton, and the Democratic-Republican Party, led by Thomas Jefferson. Federalist supporters consisted of urban bankers and businessmen, many of whom favored Hamilton’s fiscal policies, while the Democratic-Republicans were largely supported by yeoman farmers from the South, many of whom also supported states-rights and agrarian economics.
In the early days after the American Revolution, most Americans still saw themselves, not as Americans, but as citizens of their respective states (e.g. Virginians or New Yorkers). It was only after the War of 1812 that Americans began developing a sense of collective national identity. However, even with this collective consciousness, there were still sharp divides between those who favored a strong central authority and those who favored state autonomy.
Those in the north and north-east part of the U.S. were more inclined towards banking and industry, and they favored a more centralized model of government. On the other hand, those to the south, favored a more agrarian society, not to mention states rights. These issues never changed because the conditions which allowed them to exist also never changed. Eventually these fault lines would explode in the American Civil War, when the North imposed taxes and trade restrictions on the South favoring those of the North. From a state’s rights point of view, the Federal government was being used by banking and industrial interests to promote their own interests at the expense of rural societies in the South and certain parts of the expanding Midwest.
When you look at the voting patterns of different states, Midwest and southern states tend to vote Republican, the default party of states rights, whereas major urban areas and commercial centers tend to vote Democrat, the default party for stronger Federal control. In order to understand the difference between Federal and State politics, one must understand the forces behind them, and what motivates them to support their political positions.
Conservatives, libertarians, constitutionalists, business leaders and classical libertarians typically favor states rights, citing, in their defense, the ideas of the American founding fathers as well as the constitution. Moreover, people and groups who support states politics and states rights typically prefer less government interventions, and regard any interference by the Federal government as harmful not only to their interests but also to their liberty. As people who have little interest in the banking and commercial centers of New York, Los Angeles and other major cities, they tend to be quite suspicious of Federal control and view it as instruments to undermine their own sovereignty and interests in favor of those who are in power.
On the other hand, those who support Federal politics call typically belong to the Democrat party, along with socialists, urban leaders, government employees, labor unions and racial minorities. These groups typically side with the Federal government because of their positions on healthcare, access to social welfare, education and government funding. Those who favor strong Federal control typically take the view that the government is more suited for solving America’s problems than any other institution, which is why they favor more Federal intervention in order to uphold the common good of the country, as they perceive it.