The Bell Foundry

Rediscovering and recovering lost and endangered American liberties by studying our Founders' ideas, contemporaries, and etymology – because our united States "…are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States…"

Is Division Good for US?

The theme of a need for “unity” in America was raised a few times in the 9 pm Republican debate yesterday.

While I agree that we ARE stronger in many ways when we are united as a nation,  we were really only supposed to be united and agreed on a very short list of items… namely, those 30-some explicitly declared, enumerated powers that were delegated to the Federal Government (such as the powers to declare war, raise taxes, coin money, and build roads between post offices).

The genius of Federalism was intended to allow the people of the Several States to BE divided on whatever else they wanted – gay marriage, state taxes, gun control, even the freedom OR suppression of speech and religion.  I believe one of the main reasons America is divided on many issues is because America was always intended to be divided to some degree.


The three branches of Federal Government were never intended to have the authority to write (Congressional), decide on (Judicial), or enforce (Executive) sweeping legislation that unconstitutionally overrides the will of the People of the States.

Without one-size-fits-all mandates forced upon all fifty states (and the District of Columbia), most of the perceived ‘division’ would be diffused – for example, if a citizen of one state found a particular set of cultural, social, or legal practices in their home state disagreeable, they would be free to choose to leave that state and associate with the people of another state that suited them better.

James Madison, a primary framer of the Constitution, affirmed during the Federalist debates that the states, not the Federal Government, were to retain ALL authority on the lion’s share of public issues affecting people of the states:

The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the Federal Government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State Governments are numerous and indefinite. The former [the Federal Government] will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negociation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will for the most part be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects, which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties and properties of the people; and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.1

While the terms ‘ideological polarity’ or ‘political division’ are used mostly in reference to perceived undesirable differences of culture and opinion in America today, is seems that most of us have forgotten that our Founders purposely retained (and even embedded into the Constitution) the divisions of customs, economy, and laws that naturally existed between state boundaries.

1James Madison, Federalist no. 45, 1/26/1788


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This entry was posted on August 7, 2015 by in Constitutional History, Government Folly, OpEd, State's Rights and tagged , , .
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