I know I’ll catch a lot of grief for this post, but here’s one potential solution to virtually all of our political divisiveness. Let’s turn the decision making on most, if not all, of these issues back to the states. If each state has the opportunity to decide for itself, based on the will of the majority, how to settle these issues, then we can find out in real-time and through real experimentation which paths work best. Through the free market, the states that enact the laws which best serve the will of the people will thrive, and the others will struggle. If people don’t agree with the path of their state, they have the freedom to move to one that best suits their world view.
For example, if New York wants tougher gun control laws, let them pass those statutes. If Texas wants every single citizen armed, so be it. Within a few years, we’ll know which one works best. Crime in each state will reflect the wisdom of their laws. If gun control advocates are correct, New York will become a safer place, while Texas will resemble a Mad Max movie. If gun rights advocates are correct, Texas will in fact have less gun violence. Either way, we’ll know definitively.
If the citizens of Tennessee oppose gay marriage but the people of Massachusetts want it, then each state, by the majority of its citizens, can make that choice. Homosexual couples have the freedom and the right to leave Tennessee for a state that accepts their lifestyle. Likewise, people who oppose homosexuality for religious reasons can move to states that support their religious doctrines. Sure, people in Massachusetts may view people in Tennessee as backwards barbarians, and people in Tennessee may view Massachusetts as a godless land of heathens, but that wouldn’t be much different from how each views the other already. The difference is that citizens of neither state will feel as if the other is imposing its will on them.
If Kansas and Arkansas want to ban the teaching of science and evolution from their schools, let them. Let’s see how long their economies can survive without scientific thought. We will learn rather quickly, based on the free market, which world view has more validity. Companies and businesses can locate to each state based on the quality of education within its borders, and if Chik-Fil-A wants to leave states that ban religious doctrine from schools, and Starbucks wants to leave states that teach creationism, so be it. The people within each individual state can thrive according to their own beliefs.
Healthcare can become a state by state issue. Instead of sending money to the federal government, states can either create universal healthcare for its citizens or continue with our current system, based on the will of its people. We will learn very quickly which model works best. We can test in real time whether or not freeing individuals and businesses from profit driven insurance pushes up or down healthcare costs. We can test in real time whether or not universal healthcare can be sustainable. The states that thrive can become models for those that struggle.
We can apply this principle to virtually any issue, and by observing in practice which paths work and which don’t, develop long-term courses of action that best serve the country as a whole. We can simplify the tax code by returning the vast majority of tax revenue to each state. We can appease all members of the political spectrum by creating real-life laboratories for their political beliefs, and if they prosper, they can crow about it. If they struggle, they can adapt or perish. Whatever the case, individuals will no longer feel as if the beliefs of others are being forced upon them. If they don’t like the direction of their individual state, they can move somewhere else. I don’t expect this solution to ever be taken seriously or enacted, for starters because it would dismantle the federal juggernaut, but also because it makes rational sense. However, I believe it could solve a lot of our problems within a generation or two.