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America’s Vote For Federalism

Naturally, there will disappointment among Republicans, not only for the defeat in the presidential election, but also over the poor performance in several Senate contests and (for some) over the results of a handful of ballot initiatives. But the 2012 election was nevertheless a victory for federalism.

After all, with the Republican majority in the House resoundingly endorsed, the Democratic majority in the Senate affirmed, and the President returned to the White House in a close reelection (he is the first to win reelection by a smaller margin than his initial election) and therefore with a fairly weak mandate, Americans have voted for gridlock. And gridlock, despite all the problems it presents, is actually what the federal government is designed to produce, because government was not intended to be so intrusive at that level.

Moreover, with the presidential vote so close, national division is obvious. Indeed, both President Obama and Governor Romney barely scraped a third of the vote in some states, and in some cases not even that. And some of the ballot initiative results also confirmed disagreement state to state: gay marriage is constitutionally banned in a majority of states and until yesterday had failed on each of the thirty-two occasions it has been put to statewide popular vote (including in North Carolina earlier this year), but yesterday it was endorsed on the ballots in a handful of blue states. (Another state, Wisconsin, also elected the country’s first openly gay senator.) Marijuana usage had mixed results, and Obamacare fared poorly where voters were asked to limit its impact in their state. America is divided, but in crafting a federal system, that is what the Founders anticipated and embraced.

The United States may constitute one nation under God, but America remains fifty different states under the president, and the country will be well served when its leaders remember that.


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