Monday, January 30, 2017

Country Mice vs City Mice

I've often said that the fundamental political divide in the United States today is the urban/rural divide which generates the pattern of red vs. blue regions of the country:

Results of the 2016 Presidential election by county
From the Pew Trust: Expect More Conflict Between Cities and States
With the federal government and most states controlled by conservative Republicans this year, Democrats are looking to Democratic cities and counties to stand up for progressive policy.

But they may want to temper their expectations. State lawmakers have blocked city action on a range of economic, environmental and human rights issues, including liberal priorities such as minimum wage increases, in recent years.

And the stage looks set for more confrontation between cities and states this year.

Already, state lawmakers in Texas and Arkansas are weighing bills that would ban cities from declaring themselves “sanctuaries” and withholding cooperation with federal immigration officials.

Lawmakers in Kentucky, Virginia and six other states are considering preventing localities from allowing transgender people to use some restrooms that match their gender identity. In Montana, one lawmaker wants to prevent local governments from banning texting while driving.

While legislators say they’re trying to ensure consistency in state policy, so-called state preemption laws often expose political differences between state leaders — many of whom hail from rural districts — and city leaders.

“We’ve seen a continual uptick in preemptive measures at the state level over the last few years,” said Brooks Rainwater, director of the Center for City Solutions at the National League of Cities (NLC). He expects more of the same this year.

It’s hard for localities to resist preemption, but many are stepping up their efforts. Cities such as Cleveland and Tucson, Arizona, are challenging state laws in court, as are civil rights groups and other organizations that supported the policies that states are blocking. Mayors across the county, from Washington state to Florida, increasingly are teaming up to lobby at state capitols and rally public opposition to laws that limit local control.
. . .
About 32 states now prohibit localities from regulating ride-hailing companies such as Uber, 23 ban raising the local minimum wage, 15 ban cities from requiring companies to offer sick days, and three ban anti-discrimination ordinances that protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents, according to the tally kept by the Partnership for Working Families, a network of left-leaning advocacy groups.

Many states also have stopped cities and counties from creating municipal broadband networks, imposing bans on fracking, and charging customers a fee for using plastic carryout bags. In Arizona and Florida, laws penalize cities that defy preemption laws.
The United States was conceived as a collection of individual, largely sovereign states, equivalent to nations, with a minimal federal government to coordinate and carry out a few functions that the states individually had not been able to agree on (or more likely, were willing to cheat on, in hopes of making the remainder pick up a larger share of the costs), mostly to deal with foreign affairs. From there it has morphed to an almost all consuming state with it's fingers in and regulations on all affairs. But the central idea was the supremacy of state governments in most matters. With the Trump victory and the continued domination of Congress by the Republicans, liberal cities in states with a conservative government are restive. Too bad. Elections have consequences.  I may have missed it, but I don't believe I saw a similar piece from Pew sympathizing with the people in states with rural areas dominated by liberal metropolises.

Now, California is threatening to stop certain payments to the Federal Government in response to the election of Donald Trump  California Could Cut Off Feds In Response To Trump Threats
The state of California is studying ways to suspend financial transfers to Washington after the Trump administration threatened to withhold federal money from sanctuary cities, KPIX 5 has learned.

Officials are looking for money that flows through Sacramento to the federal government that could be used to offset the potential loss of billions of dollars’ worth of federal funds if President Trump makes good on his threat to punish cities and states that don’t cooperate with federal agents’ requests to turn over undocumented immigrants, a senior government source in Sacramento said.

The federal funds pay for a variety of state and local programs from law enforcement to homeless shelters.
Ask South Carolina how that worked out last time. There has even been some talk of California splitting away from the US and becoming a separate country (I wonder why they don't propose to rejoin Mexico, the racists!). John Fund says let 'em talk and suggests a "two state" solution:
The new states would be far more in sync on policy. The coastal state would emphasize environmental values, the “next big thing” economy of Silicon Valley, and the multicultural diversity of L.A. The inland state would have vast water resources, abundant agricultural lands, and its own cutting-edge facilities in sectors ranging from aerospace to data processing. The two states would provide an escape from the current political conformity of California, which is dominated by public-sector unions and progressive activists.

Politically, the two states would provide an escape from the current political conformity of California, which is dominated by public-sector unions and progressive activists. Take the last governor’s race in 2014. Democrat Jerry Brown won reelection over Republican Neel Kashkari by 60 percent to 40 percent statewide. But in Inland California, they were separated by just a few thousand votes. The two Californias would include a progressive stronghold able to experiment (even more than the state already does) with new “small is beautiful” ideas; next to it would be a politically competitive state with many constituencies that would favor pro-growth policies.

Tensions and gridlock under a two-state model would probably be reduced. Of course, it’s unlikely that California will ever be divided. It’s even more unlikely that it would cut its ties to the rest of the nation and become a separate country. But the debate on both ideas is healthy. To what extent should we let arbitrary political boundaries established many decades ago curb our imagination and prevent us from creative solutions to our problems?
And two more conservative Senators? What's not to like?

No comments:

Post a Comment