Independent student content

BG Falcon Media

Independent student content

BG Falcon Media

Independent student content

BG Falcon Media

The BG News
BG24 Newscast
November 30, 2023

Follow us on social
  • Review of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
    Let’s time-travel to the year 2012 and the world is raving about none other than Katniss Everdeen. I remember being in elementary school, begging my mother to let me dress up as her for my birthday. Now it’s over ten years later and I’m still just as excited for the new movie as I was […]
  • Found Family Books for the Holidays
    The holidays are quickly approaching and for some of us that means seeing our family. However, family has a loose definition. It could mean blood or who you were raised with. It could also mean people you’ve found during your life journey. Either way, the holidays are meant for spending quality time with those you […]

Congress has gone too far – let the states decide on social issues

As you drive down Route 79, heading east through the rolling hills of New York, you come to the tiny hamlet of Lisle, with its population of just over 300 souls. Route 79 is its Main Street. About 25 minutes due west is the liberal college town of Ithaca. Turn around, and after spending five hours on the open highway, you arrive in the People’s Republic of Amherst. What do these three towns have in common? Not very much.

To get to Ithaca from Amherst, you have to drive by both Springfield and Albany. These two cities have barely anything in common with the three towns. What they do share, though, is they are all in this great country of ours. The nuances and the clear contrasts between states, counties and cities make the U.S. system inherently difficult to maintain. That it has been maintained is an impressive fact. But many things have changed, and the looming presence of the federal government threatens the independence of these municipalities.

After living under the burden of the British monarchy for many years, the Founding Fathers developed an inherent fear of a strong central government. They realized no entity of government can adequately represent everyone in the country unless the power is located in the municipalities and states. This is the system of federalism, and it is dying.

The beauty of democracy is the people hold the government accountable through elections. The best way for a democracy to effectively work for everyone is to have it controlled by the people at the local level. A nation has millions of voices, all clamoring to be heard, for their opinion to become the way of life. A state has millions fewer; Massachusetts is much more likely to develop a statewide coalition. How else could the Democratic Party claim its dominance? It controls the entire Congressional delegation, the Governor’s seat and 95 percent of the legislators in the State House. Locally, there is more partisanship, as the separate districts more clearly serve a smaller number of people. All politics is local.

The federal government, however, is overextending itself. It must diminish the number of issues it controls. The 10th Amendment of the Constitution declares all rights not given to the federal government are left to the states. It is not the federal government’s job to legislate the definition of marriage. The decision to block women from having an abortion must be given to the states. The central government should not have the authority to legislate what scientists can study. States’ rights have been given a bad name because of the Civil War and the legacy of the Jim Crow era, but they must be resurrected, lest the American political system fail.

There are problems with leaving all political responsibility to the states as segregation has shown, but the blame cannot lie entirely with the southern states. There was a nationwide sense of racism. The Supreme Court in Plessy v. Ferguson even ruled separate public facilities for whites and blacks were constitutional. The federal government abandoned its rule of overlooking the states during the Jim Crow era and allowed racism to foment throughout the country. Forty years after the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act were signed by President Johnson, the federal government is no longer overseeing state governments, but is stripping the states of any ability to rule independently.

The democratic system the United States employed after winning the Revolutionary War was the first of its kind throughout the world. It was the experimental stage for democracy and passed with flying colors. Less than 300 years later, however, the system has adopted a quite different personality, in which the 535 members of Congress and the president determine the political debate. Divisive issues like abortion, stem-cell research and same-sex marriage are only political tools used to win points with voters. They have no business taking up serious political debate in Washington, D.C. There are more important decisions to be made. If more attention was paid to the administration’s marketing of the Iraq War, would we be stuck in the middle of a quagmire right now? If the legislative branch actually fulfilled its duty of checking the power of the executive, would we really be on the precipice of a world-altering war with Iran?

Congress must relinquish the debate on social issues to concentrate on its constitutionally mandated duties. The states can determine domestic policy for themselves. The United States of America needs and deserves a return to its federalist roots.

Nick Milano writes for the Daily Collegian, the student newspaper at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Leave a Comment
Donate to BG Falcon Media

Your donation will support the student journalists of Bowling Green State University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to BG Falcon Media

Comments (0)

All BG Falcon Media Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *