As usual, I'm disappointed that we have brushed over American history and painted a ridiculously simplified picture. I have been reading snippets of "What the Anti-Federalists Were For," a book that Berck sent me sometime before. This is not the first time recently that I have thought about the original Confederation of States. How quickly we brush that over now. The American constitution and the principles of American government that we praise so highly today...we treat them as if they were handed down by God, and all the Americans did was write these "self-evident truths" on a sheet of paper after the revolution...thereby securing the first democracy. (Err...republic). American History classes brush right over the Confederation, quickly mentioning that it happened, and then moving right along as if it is embarrassing that we once had a different governmental structure. God forbid anyone realize that the constitution was created through a process of lengthy debate, that it was not some automatic creation where the principles were obvious to everyone and just needed to be written down to secure the governmental structure.
If we are to assume that the constitution has been (at least moderately) successful, then why do we brush over the intricate debate that created it? Instead of celebrating and replicating this open discussion, we hide that it ever happened.
It reminds me of the fact that when they created the bible, they debated and argued over what gospels should and shouldn't be in it. That the structure that the bible takes, even today, is completely dependent on a few people and their personal opinions and motivations.
Once again, this is something that we (or Christians) don't talk about. I'm not sure what it is in our mentality that we want to believe that all our great documents contain immutable truths that could not possibly be arranged or different than they are. Why is it wrong to honor not just the brilliance of the ideas contained in the documents but also the process that the ideas came out of?
Of course, the funny thing about the Anti-federalists is that they were the federalists. They wanted the country to remain a confederation. It's interesting, because one party or another has been in favor of more state rights throughout the history of America. Basically, that's been whatever party has controlled the South. This isn't surprising as the South has always been marginalized by the federal government. It used to be that the Republicans were in favor of a strong national government, and the Dems were the ones crying "state rights!" Now that the Rs control the South, they have usurped the "state rights" battle call.
Although usually I am all for a strong federal government, as it is necessary for a strong welfare state, I can't help but wonder if the Anti-federalists were right. After all, it was the South that suffered from being part of the same country as the North. It seems like these days we all identify with the national government, and just bitch about the oddities of each state government. States have different taxes, different driver's license and tag rules, different rules about smoking...all these little annoying regulatory things. It seems like where states do disagree, the federal gov't jumps in and takes over. For example, I personally think that the drinking age is a riduculous example of trampling state rights through manipulation of money. But, despite all of this state rights bullshit, I think when it comes down to it I don't trust Texas to provide health care to their citizens. Because they've proven that they won't.