Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Why I support states rights

With President Barack Obama planning to crack down on the recent state-level marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington, I find it's a good time to go over why I support state rights.

There's a knee-jerk reaction from the left to say that states rights are some kind of secret code word for racism, as if no one could ever support states rights for legitimate reasons. Here's what I mean when I say I support them.

States give us the opportunity to provide experiments. As potential laboratories of democracy, we can test a new policy or program on the state level and if it turns out poorly, it won't harm the rest of the nation.

It also allows progress to take place sooner in certain regions. Take gay marriage for example. Massachusetts legalized it in 2004. If we only had the option of legalizing it on the national level, we probably wouldn't have it yet and we would have to wait until an overwhelming majority of states both approves of it and is willing to push it forward.

However, what about states like Mississippi, which would probably block gay marriage on the state level until the other 49 legalize it? Because some states get it earlier, and some get it later, doesn't it average out?

No. National gay marriage would not kick in the moment a mere majority of states approve of it, it would take an overwhelming majority.

What's more, the gay couple in Mississippi has the option to move to Massachusetts instead of waiting for it to become legal in the south. Moving can be expensive and difficult, so not everyone will get to take advantage of it. Still, some people would. Without states rights, none of those couples would even have the option.

This possible exodus of residents who "vote with their feet" would exhibit pressure on Mississippi to catch up sooner.

What's interesting is that gay marriage is the only issue President Obama has stated he is in favor of on the state level and not through the federal government. However, this is transparently a cop-out and should not be mistaken for his real position. He just wanted to tell voters he supports gay marriage, but isn't willing to do anything about it. If he wanted to promote states rights for gay marriage, he would help the federal government recognize those marriages on the federal level and give those couples more legal rights.

But with marijuana legalization, it looks like the president will be trampling on states rights. As Penn Gillette famously said, the same president who goes on talk shows to brag about his own drug use is now doing everything in his power to ruin the lives of other people who use the same drugs. Forget about states rights, what about human rights?


  1. I get a chuckle when certain people who claim to be great supporters of scientific experimentation balk at the idea that experimentation should be done with democracy, the social issues included.

    One wonders shat the scientific world would look like if there were only one laboratory, with experiments, research priorities, and overall direction set according to one policy, with a single eye to the future.

    I suspect that our republic would more closely resemble the 1960's USSR, the great bastion of workers rights, high living standards and political and social freedom that it was.

  2. You could argue though, that due to the 14th amendment, rights should be protected on the federal level and shouldn't be experimented with.