Saturday, May 26, 2012

Does America still need a president?

States’ rights, states’ rights, states’ rights!” – Texas Governor Rick Perry, April 16, 2009

Two weeks ago California moved one step closer to "nation state" status, as the California Air Resources Board, or CARB, announced that California would link its cap-and-trade system for reducing greenhouse gas emissions with a similar system belonging to a foreign neighbor, the Canadian province of Québec, Douglas A. Kysaw and Webb Lyons report in the Huffington Post. It makes sense to link across national borders, they say, but “ this lofty rationale masks a key point: as much as California may envision itself a global player, the fact remains that it is a state, and as such operates under a set of constitutional restraints that limit its involvement on the international stage.”

Has the American Presidency become an anachronism? It was a great idea when America was made up of three cities and a forest in 1776, but does centralized government today hinder the progress of mature states like California? We are a nation of political tribes and generations, not states – that idea was killed in 1913 by the 17th Amendment . But centralized government may become a thing of the past. Because Tea Party is not just for us New Hampshire hillbillies any more. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Chris Christie, from the "initiative" states of CA and NJ, where things are said to awaken, have signing on.

Quebec, an hour from where I live, is a great and good place. California and Quebec now ignore both American and Canadian governments and go ahead together as free states and regions. As governor, Schwarzenegger attempted to do these kinds of things. He wanted to run a series of hydrogen stations from San Diego to British Columbia and had little interest in what America and Canada nationalists had to say about it.

He might have found sympathetic premiers across the plains to Quebec with that and when Howard Dean was governor of Vermont he might have been able to drop down to Burlington, then to White River Junction, then Concord and direct to Boston, barely an hour away. These are all sympathetic regions (fast trains could run those routes as well and go very fast in vast uninhabited regions which parallel the TransCanada). This should be the work of innovative governors and premiers. Presidents and prime ministers only interfere.

Governor Schwarzenegger declared California to be the modern equivalent of the ancient city states of Athens and Sparta. “‘We have the economic strength, we have the population and the technological force of a nation-state,” he said in his inaugural address. “We are a good and global commonwealth.”

But federal governance presents problems, he has said.

Texas Governor Rick Perry has made the same complaint. The Founders were being forced to endure a king 3,000 miles away, he has written. “Is it not ironic that what we fought against 200-years ago is what we allow today, with the consolidation of power in Washington?”

And the states’ rights cry comes this week not from Rand Paul in the Appalachian hollers, but from Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey. As The Hill reported Friday, Christie says he will move to allow casinos in his state to offer betting on the outcome of sporting events like football and basketball in violation of federal law.

"We intend to go forward," Christie said. "If someone wants to stop us, then let them try to stop us.”

Which sounds like that thing Texas Governor Rick Perry has on his cowboy boots: Come and take it.

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