Interesting Concept

This proposal to weaponize federalism against the right wing is fascinating.

The short version is that it is an invitation for Republicans to destroy themselves in the same way that Sam Brownback destroyed his political career and nearly destroyed the state of Kansas though his insane adherence to the dogma of tax cuts:

As the euphoria fades, reality sets in. America remains divided geographically, with no relief from our partisan stalemate on the horizon. If we want to hold the republic together, we need to get creative.


There’s a little-noted firewall protecting Republican politicians from the consequences of their rhetoric. Embedded protections at the federal level mean red-state voters never feel the full consequences of electing idiots. No one pays for the stupidity of Republican economic policy because Congressional stalemate and the Federal bureaucracy block Republicans from creating the dystopia of their dreams.

Want to rescue America? Embrace a soft secession. Frederick the Great once explained, “defending everything defends nothing.” Stop trying to civilize the red states. Instead, embrace the progress that can be achieved at state levels. Remove the blue state welfare system that insulates rural white Republicans from the consequences of their politics. The stark geographic split in our politics is as much an opportunity as a threat. Earn progressive policy wins for blue states by offering Republicans the chance to live in the country they’re trying to create. If Democrats truly believe in the power of their policies, they should be ready to weaponize federalism.


Use federalism to exploit the disconnect between the priorities of Republican politicians and the priorities of their voters. Pass progressive policies in the House with state-level opt-out provisions. In some cases, sweeten those bills with offers Republican elected officials (and their donors) can’t refuse, but their voters will hate. Bait Republican Senators into passing them.

Pass a national $15/hour minimum wage bill. To lure Republicans into backing it, offer opt-outs that would let Republicans realize one of their most fantastic dreams, elimination of the minimum wage in their states. Republican Senators would jump at the opportunity. Bait Republican Governors or Legislatures into stripping wage protections from workers and watch what happens at election time.


Offer Republicans a state-level opt out provision which grants those opt-out states the right to pass up the additional upper-income tax increase and receive all of their Medicare & Medicaid taxes as a block grant. In other words, dangle in front of them the chance to eliminate Medicare and Medicaid in their states. Would they turn that down? Hell no.


Most importantly, Republican elected officials would finally face the consequences of their politics. What would happen to Republican politicians in Ohio when voters next door in Pennsylvania suddenly had access to cheap universal health care? What would happen to those voters when no worker in neighboring Pennsylvania was earning less than a living wage?


Would it be cruel to let red states fall behind? No, it’s democracy and it’s entirely fair. At some point it becomes a message of simple respect for democracy and the continuation of the American project. One of the reasons racist whites sit beyond the feedback loop, immunized from the consequences of their choices, is that Democrats haven’t let them experience the consequences of their choices. Let red states live in the country their leaders want to create, to the extent possible without dragging down other states.


We can hold the country together and potentially soften the impact of our political divide by granting states more rights and more consequences. Odds are, this will inspire a revolt in Baptistan as soft R voters wake up to the consequences of their choices, but perhaps it won’t. It doesn’t matter. Win where you can win. Achieve progress where it’s available, and let Republicans live in their own mess. It’s a small price to pay to avoid a second Civil War.

The obvious question here is, “But what if Republicans, actually improve the status of their states, through their delusional policies?

Well, if their policies actually work, then we adopt those policies.

If not, let the Republicans cut their own throats.


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