[FoRK] Misunderestimating "The" Tea Party

J. Andrew Rogers andrew at ceruleansystems.com
Sun Mar 21 17:32:33 PDT 2010

On Mar 21, 2010, at 4:32 PM, Russell Turpin wrote:
> One of the aggregation problems in the US, perhaps more serious than
> that of state-federal relationship, is that states are the locus of
> legislation, rather than smaller units. As a result, Texas stomps on
> Austin, Florida cities must fight Florida developers in the state
> legislature, New York City tussles with the state of New York, and
> west and east Washington are yoked politically. There are a variety of
> ways in which the states are now pretty much relics of history, but
> doing anything else would be nigh impossible given the Constitutional
> importance placed on them, how much political work would be required
> to change that, and how much rural states would fight to preserve
> their heavily weighted power.

As long as political representation is tied to geographic boundaries, this problem will never go away nor can it be significantly mitigated.  The change in scale of political boundaries as you head west doesn't help either.  The mountain West is less rural than New England, but you wouldn't know it by looking at a map. Western counties are the size of eastern states.  Political boundaries don't follow the movements of people over decades.

What matters most is perhaps the distribution of population density.  Political boundaries do not capture that well at all currently.  In the mountain West, which is the most urbanized part of the country outside of the NYC area, the states typically have counties at both extremes of population, upwards of 3 orders of magnitude difference between adjacent counties.

I think one of the ways in which city-states make sense is that they wrap up very high density and tightly interconnected subregions into their own sovereign political unit.  It would be interesting to elevate sufficiently dense and large cities in the US to the level of State for political purposes.  The rural regions of the States would probably go along with this to the extent it kept the city folk from meddling in rural affairs they know little about, always a gripe.

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