As I somewhat pledged on Twitter, I’m not going to be wasting anyone’s money on getting a college degree. Not my money, not my parents’ money and most certainly not the taxpayers’ money. When more and more students run through college as if it’s a secondary version of high school, what’s the true value of the four year documents their all seeking? It most certainly isn’t going to match what I could accomplished if I took the same 20,000$ loan and spent it on starting an actual business. However since I am blessed enough to have parents that can and want to help me financially, I am taking several college classes online from our local college. I’m not seeking a degree (as much as the college introduction class constantly seemed to try and pressure me into spending the next decade of my life there), but I am taking several classes that end up getting me a business certificate. And of course I tried out State and Local Government while I was there, just to give a political class a try. So far I’ve discovered (like many people in history) that when a system is held down by political bias sometimes the best way to learn is not by the designed lessons of the academy, but what I find independently. With the invention of the internet I have been getting increasingly competitive with the college system which is a completely different blog post for another day. Today I’d like to share with you my final paper for State and Local Government. I was given multiple options and decided to go with the following: “Compare and contrast regions of the country on several measures of economic development, race and ethnicity, and ideology and suggest how these may lead to policy differences in states and communities.” Since I’m a big fan of our founders and understand why we have an electoral college, I thought this would be a perfect paper to throw my explanation of the Electoral College into the mix. The paper received a 100% and my teacher actually gave me specifically positive feedback about my explanation of the Electoral College (which actually quite surprised me).
State and Local Government
Final Research Paper
For my assignment I decided to go with the first topic which is to compare and contrast regions of the country and how their differences may lead to policy differences. With our current election ending with Hillary Clinton losing, but with 1 million more votes in the popular vote, I thought it would be interesting to tie these differences into the election and why the founders came up with the Electoral College.
Our country has always been a place of immigrants escaping from tyranny. Even the American Pilgrims were simply groups of Puritans seeking religious freedom. During the 1900s our nation was a refuge for people of different races and nationalities. It wasn’t until after the World Wars that American’s views on engaging in warfare change, and we were generally viewed as a neutral country up until that point. My great grandfather escaped from conflict in Macedonia and came to America in the 1920s. Over this century America’s welcoming message of liberty grew our country into a very diverse nation from Puritan descendants, to Orthodox Christians from Macedonian, to Catholics from Ireland, to refugees from Cuba and the USSR. Although diverse, many did not want to let go of their family’s culture and people grew their own communities within American cities.
Sadly not all of America’s diversity came from immigrants. American Indians have had many different interactions with the original settlers and through the years they were pushed west. Through infighting among tribes, to rebellion and suffering after the Indian Removal Act of 1830 (which I learned about at the Tampa Bay History Center), their populations drastically dropped. In 1851 Congress passed the Indian Appropriation Act which started what are now known as Indian reservations. Depending on the states these reservations can be highly or poorly populated and have their own kind of local governments. According to World Atlas, California with 362,801 Native Americans has the largest indigenous population in the United States.
Through the first quarter of the United States’ timeline the country was faced with the political state of slavery. When Abraham Lincoln became president there was a upset in the southern states which were primarily Democrat. Eleven southern states successfully seceded from the union for four years and formed the Confederate States of America. Oddly enough the Confederate States’ constitution outlawed the slave trade, but continued to assert the “right of property in negro slaves.” Some people disagree on what initiated the secession and what the original purpose for the war was, but after the Battle of Antietam Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. The Emancipation Proclamation was an executive order declaring any slave state that did not end its rebellion with the Union would lose their slaves. Many people believe this was to give a stronger purpose to the war than simply to put down what the Union viewed as a rebellion. Ultimately the Confederate States didn’t give up and after the Civil War the 13th Amendment sealed the deal, outlawing slavery. This created more diversity and decisions for Americans to make with a new free group of people that up until this point were not even aloud to receive eduction to read in some states.
Now with all these different kinds of people in the United States there was a true test to the system the founders of the United States Constitution formed. What many people do not realize is the system was designed as a republic in order to keep a majority from persecuting a minority, while simultaneously restricting the powers of government to avoid tyrants coming to power. Less than 10% of the population joined in the American Revolutionary War, and some say at no known time was more than 3% of the nation’s population actually fighting the war. Yet every person then and every person now gets to enjoy the liberties that only a minority were willing to fight for. This is where the genius of federalism comes into play. A few people can’t dictate over the nation, but it is still difficult for a majority to take away the rights of a small group of people. The only time tyranny has succeeded is when people aren’t considered people, or when the law is blatantly ignored. Different states have a different view of how constitutional law is interpreted and it is partially because of the political parties that George Washington warned us about.
Political parties are, in the most basic sense, groups of people coming together with similar views to promote candidates under their name. However, instead of electing people based on what the politician has said and done, slowly over time more Americans started voting based on the name of their party. Political parties became more drastically different, and there has usually only been two popular parties. Now with these big political influences there of course has to be some form of marketing. The Democratic Party is America’s oldest party. Once a party of southern anti-federalist, it is now more liberal and in support of stronger centralized government. The Republican Party which started with Abraham Lincoln has attempted to stay the same, but drifts from more libertarian to more authoritarian thinking depending on how the previous administration affected people. Democrats now try to win over younger generations, minorities and anyone who isn’t really considered to be apart of the cultural norm. As California is a very diverse area, also filled with people who have become famous off of being different, Democrats have held this state since 1992 (which I learned from a Metrocosm article titled “Presidential Elections Used to Be More Colorful”). Florida on the other hand is diverse both socially and politically, and each year many local or federal elections can go either way. Northern Florida is rural however and primarily has African American and White communities with comparatively low crime. Southern Florida has more urban areas and many Hispanic and Cuban immigrants, with higher crime rates. Every decade or so parties try their new ways at winning over these different cultures, whether through welfare opportunities, more job opportunities, promising better policing or to fight discrimination by influencing the culture in multiple different ways.
What both California and Florida have in common is that big cities lean more liberal, while northern rural areas in the states are more conservative. If you were to match this on a map of the nation, more rural states typically lean conservative and Republican. This also has to do with how much a political party can influence their people in major cities. California has Hollywood and millions of people in a single location around LA. In federal elections in order to win California you simply have to have favor in several counties, and that is almost ensured when you have Hollywood stars on your side. This is why the founding fathers came up with the Electoral College for presidential elections. They wanted to avoid elections being driven by a large amount of people in a concentrated place, because then all presidential candidates would have to do is win over a small, single-cultured area and then would be able to dictate over the rest of the people. For demonstration purposes let’s say the United States were smaller and somehow half the population fit into New York City. Well it would be kind of unfair to the completely culturally different State of Virginia if the president was always decided by this one highly populated area. In the same way we want presidential candidates to campaign in all 50 states, not just some really populated counties. Business Insider made a pretty interesting map of how half of Americans live in 146 counties out of the over 3000 counties that are in the United States of America. Some states could be completely ignored or bullied by others if we went by popular vote in presidential elections.
Location also places a large role in politics. Cities usually have a very drastic difference in income. There’s the people with good jobs, and then the poorer people all around it. Conservatives answer to this is to place less regulations on businesses so they will have more money to expand and hire new people. Liberals say this is wrong because it would require cutting taxes which cuts money for welfare programs. To me it ultimately comes down to, do you teach a man to fish or do you give a man a fish? It seems like most people already unemployed prefer to increase welfare than to ever decrease it, leaving them on a never ending cycle of government handouts. When politicians can get a large group of people together in a city they see an opportunity to promise more and more free things in order to keep them voting for the same party for decades. Many liberal cities have stayed voting Democrat for over 50 years, yet the unemployment rates usually stay lower than the national average. Based on information gathered by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Detroit, Las Angeles and Chicago have almost always kept higher unemployment rates than the national average, but instead of trying to grow business, rich politicians tell the population that their problems are the fault of rich people and that they need to continue to redistribute the wealth even more. Meanwhile rural areas lean conservative and try to help each other through volunteer work and directly instead of through government organized welfare.
Over all of this what makes the United States of America the United States is our structure and ability to have a federal and local system to help out all of Americans. Americans make up the culture, and it really is a mixed bunch of people. Liberty can never thrive if we are not at least united in some common virtues, and that’s what makes America interesting. There’s differences in race and philosophy, but at least when elections aren’t going on, we’re able to come together and help one another in State and Local governments. Sometimes it might seem hard to find real Americans, especial as political parties try to divide us by race, sex and age. But it only took a minority of some colonists to change the world forever, and Americans of all kinds will continue doing so until the end of time.
World Atlas. “US States With The Largest Native American Populations” Last Modified February 25, 2016 (Retrieved 11-16-16)
Business Insider. “Half of the United States Lives in These Counties” Walter Hickey and Joe Weisenthal. September 4, 2013 (Retrieved 11-16-16)
Metrocosm. “Presidential Elections Used to Be More Colorful” Max Galka. September 14, 2015 (Retrieved 11-16-16)
Google. “Unemployment in the U.S.” Last Updated October 10, 2016 (Retrieved 11-16-16)
Data from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Personal knowledge that I’ve read at museums, including the Tampa Bay History Center, and double checked on Wikipedia. Including: Indian Removal Act, Indian Appropriation Act, Civil War Facts
Used for research, but weren’t written after 2012:
The Constitution of the United States of America
The Constitution of the Confederate States of America
Washington’s Farewell Address 1796