There are probably a lot of ideas we agree on, but the subject is so complex it’s hard to define every area where the federal government needs to intercede vs. individual states vs individual cities vs individual rights.
For me, any situation that involves curtailing individual rights (privacy, freedom of speech, thought and religion, voting rights, equal opportunity, public health, etc.) requires a consistent national standard. But look how far we can extrapolate that idea. If a state allows companies to pollute the air or water, it’s not like these things just stop at the state line.*
Look at what happened in Flint, Michigan with the contaminated water. Here is a fantastic analysis of what happened. The decision to use the bad water came from one man — an emergency crisis manager appointed by Governor Rick Snyder — whose only purpose was to cut costs, treating a city with peoples’ lives at stake as if it were a corporate leveraged buyout.
The EPA told the state’s Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ)to follow certain protocols to deterimine if there was a threat to public health. MDEQ chose not to follow these protocols, but told the EPA that they were doing so. Then they threw out two samples which contained high lead samples that would have put the water above the “actionable level” of lead which would have required them to warn residents that there was a problem with lead in the water at least six months ago.
We know why the original bad decisions were made. We don’t know why the MDEQ acted the way it did and then tried to cover it up for 6 months.
Most of the time I think states can act in totally irresponsible ways because they contain a solid majority of one party or the other. It’s not easy for most people (poor, sick, elderly, children, etc.) to move if they don’t like a particular set of state laws.
With the country close to evenly divided, working through issues on a national level means the President, Congress and Supreme Court all have to fight over the issue, so there’s a better chance it’s right and follows the ideals of the Constitution.
But if States Rights are really so important, why does California and New York basically foot the bill for so many red states? Some people argue about not wanting their tax dollars to be spent on wars, or PBS, or Planned Parenthood, or some other hot button issue. I ask why should my tax dollars go to support another state that wants to cut slavery and killing Indians out of their history books? Or a state that will force women to have humiliating unnecessary medical procedures because she wants to choose what to do with her body? Or a state that will screw its own workers to attract business away from my state?
The more I think about it, I would rather have consistent national standards and leave most of the states’ power to towns and individuals.
*This might be why certain politicians are climate change deniers — it allows those states who profit from fossil fuel extraction and refining to keep doing business as usual since it has no influence on the rest of the country or the world. Tell that to the 30 mayors of South Florida whose cities are experiencing flooding on sunny days.