Just Move If You Don’t Like it Here!

There are many barriers to true freedom.

The Atlantic’s Jerusalem Demsas makes some very good arguments under the ridiculous headline “The Right to Move Is Under Attack.” (Spoiler Alert: It is not.)

For much of American history, freedom from an oppressive legal system could be found by picking up and leaving. During the Great Migration, millions of Black Americans abandoned the Jim Crow South for the North, Midwest, and West; at a smaller scale, LGBTQ people have long fled communities where they felt unwelcome for liberal cities. On some level, Americans—with our unique system of federalism—have always voted with our feet.

The ability to move is especially important at this moment, as the Supreme Court seems poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, empowering state governments to determine the abortion rights of millions. If abortion does indeed become a state-level issue, it will join a host of other civil rights and benefits that depend on location, including the ability to transition, protection from LGBTQ workplace discrimination, and whether teachers can discuss racism in the classroom or even reveal that they aren’t straight. Major differences also exist in social-insurance programs: Twelve states still refuse to expand Medicaid, and the coronavirus pandemic has showcased just how much public health and safety nets depend on one’s zip code.

This is a weird juxtaposition of issues but, yes, it’s fundamentally true. A consequence of federalism, a bedrock principle of the American system of government, is that different states have different rules based on local culture, conditions, and mores. They’re of course not static but changes come at difference paces.

Blue-state politicians know that they can largely define how well rights are protected within their borders and, in the case of abortion, have promised to ensure ongoing access. After Politico published an article revealing that the Court may soon fully overturn Roe, California Governor Gavin Newsom pledged to enshrine the right to choose in the California Constitution. “We will do everything in our power to defend abortion rights in Connecticut,” Governor Ned Lamont said. “Let me be loud and clear: New York will always guarantee your right to abortion,” Governor Kathy Hochul stated.

Again, this is how federalism works.

Then on to the thesis:

What blue-state politicians are not doing is ensuring that people in other states can find refuge in Democratic states. For decades now, what was once commonplace—Americans moving from state to state—has been made exceedingly difficult, 

Having moved from state to state many, many times over the years—but the last time was 20 years ago this August—I’m wondering what has changed.

largely because of cost-of-living concerns.

Oh. That’s not a rights issue. At all.

Still, Demsas has a good point:

Declining rates of interstate mobility show that many Americans are stuck where they are, consigned to the political decisions of governments they may profoundly oppose, without an escape valve. Low-income Americans have also been forced out of expensive, typically blue states to less expensive, typically red ones, where their access to basic government protections may be nonexistent, but at least the average home price doesn’t exceed $600,000. Those who stay are resigned to watching more and more of their paycheck go to rent, and record numbers find themselves teetering on the edge of homelessness.

In a federal system, access to housing undergirds access to many of the civil rights Democrats claim they want to protect. If the price tag for those rights is $3,200 a month, that tells me all I need to know.

Look. If you want to argue that we should abandon federalism and have the central government make people by California and Mississippi play by the same rules, fine. But it’s silly to argue that people choosing to live in places where they feel oppressed because it’s easier to buy a house in those places are somehow being denied their rights.

Beyond that, the metropolitan areas where it’s expensive to live have always been more “open” than more insular areas where it’s cheaper. But here’s the thing: there are plenty of low-income people in California, New York, Massachusetts, and other deeply blue states. Why, some of them came from as far away as other countries, from which they fled to have a better life here.

There is a clear class dimension to who gets trapped and who gets forced out. The economists Peter Ganong and Daniel Shoag have argued that in the “mid-twentieth century, low- and high-skill workers moved from low-income to high-income places. In recent years, as high-skill workers move to high-income places, low-skill workers leave.” Income gains that come from moving to richer places are offset by rising housing costs, and for many low-skill workers, “rising house prices have eroded the gains from migration.” Nowhere is this story more obvious than in the Golden State, which the Public Policy Institute of California finds has “been losing lower- and middle-income residents to other states for some time while continuing to gain higher-income adults.”

This isn’t surprising. What Demsas is saying, in essence, is that living in highly desirable places like California is a luxury good.

I live in the Northern Virginia exurbs of DC. My county is the second most affluent in the country and is adjacent to the most affluent. It’s relatively easy to make a good living here but the tradeoff is very high real estate prices, high taxes, and traffic jams. Some people—lots of them, in fact—choose to trade time spent driving to and from work for a bigger house further out. Some sacrifice a larger house for more time at home. And those who are very wealthy don’t have to make any trade-off at all.

Anyway, that’s a long setup for Demsas’ actual policy argument:

Declining interstate mobility is not all about housing costs. But on this issue, states have immense power to make a difference. Contrary to the dictum that “all housing politics is local,” local authorities always serve at the pleasure of their state government. The U.S. Constitution makes no mention of local government power, leaving it up to the states to distribute authority.

None of the underlying dynamics driving up the cost of living is unknown or even really contestable. Experts have been sounding the alarm for decades that escalating rents and home prices are the results of laws limiting the supply of affordable housing. Across the nation, including in the states governed by Newsom, Hochul, and Lamont, localities enforce exclusionary zoning policies that make it difficult or even illegal to build affordable housing such as small single-family homes, duplexes, and apartment buildings.

This is fair enough and echoes arguments Matt Yglesias and others have made for years. One understands why residents of already-crowded cities wouldn’t vote to add to the congestion or why those who live in affluent neighborhoods with large homes wouldn’t want lots of small homes, let alone high-rises, built next door. But these attitudes and policies absolutely create barriers to in-migration.

The inhospitality of rich, liberal states to the poor and working classes is a problem at the international level as well. During the recent Afghan-refugee crisis, resettlements to coastal areas foundered on the lack of available affordable housing. When the State Department released a list of cities with potential homes for refugees, it left off America’s largest progressive cities: New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. Refugees are actually not welcome here, it seems.

The list was apparently up only for a few hours and its provenance and rationale are not clear. Certainly, there are a lot of not-rich immigrants in New York, LA, and DC. And there were plenty of progressive cities on the list, anyway.

Of course, ideally, fundamental rights should not depend on where you live. But that is not a reality either inside the United States or outside it. Given that, the question becomes: What can be done for the millions of people living in the states (and the billions of people living in other countries) who are losing their civil liberties?

Blue states can do so much more than secure the rights of the people lucky enough to already live in them; they can choose to become welcoming to those unlucky enough to live in places where they feel under attack. But, again, so far they have done the opposite, building walls of red tape even as they decry “Build the wall” rhetoric as xenophobic.

The Republican Party has made abundantly clear that its vision of a just society does not include access to abortion. The attacks on Roe did not materialize out of thin air; the end has obviously been coming. Democrats in blue states have not responded by making their polities havens for people fleeing oppression, and in doing so they have betrayed that the things they call “rights” are actually privileges for those who can afford them.

The insinuation that policies that keep housing costs high are morally equivalent to “Build the wall” is a stretch but not one without merit. On an attitudinal level, they’re quite a bit different. While there’s decidedly an anti-rube sentiment in places like LA, Boston, and NYC, they’re all rather welcoming places —to the right kind of people. It’s not about skin color or language, though, as much as it is skills and education.

Demsas defines “rights” quite broadly—even universally. And, to the extent they’re only observed in certain geographic areas, all barriers—whether they be high rents or international borders—must be removed. I’m not sure we’ve ever had such a world—John Lennon imagined one—but I wonder how progressive it would be. Widespread tolerance of difference is much easier from a position of affluence and distance.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, Society
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Again, this is how federalism works.

    Yes, and no. Just for the sake of conversation, I think it is worth noting that, as has been the case for almost 50 years with abortion, there is not anything about federalism that precludes national shared rights/privileges. The main purpose of federalism is to aid in the basic administration and governance of a large territory, but it is not the case that we couldn’t have a baseline set of policy parameters (which is largely the case).

    Indeed, it should not be the case that citizens in different states have wildly different sets of rights and living conditions because of federalism.

    I think this is important to underscore.

    For example, this would not be the case in Germany or Australia. Variations from state to state based on local conditions and economies are one thing, but American citizens are still American citizens.

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  2. Cheryl Rofer says:

    Thanks for your corrective, Steven.

    Having moved from state to state many, many times over the years—but the last time was 20 years ago this August—I’m wondering what has changed.

    largely because of cost-of-living concerns.

    Oh. That’s not a rights issue. At all.

    So much to unpack in these few lines that come from a well-paid white man whose life is not being threatened by those precious federal differences in laws. I’m tempted to stop at that, but I think I need to be explicit. When some people can afford mansions with hundreds of rooms and others are living on the street, yes it is a rights issue. Yes it is.

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  3. gVOR08 says:

    OK, some guy I’d never heard of, although I subscribe to Atlantic, said something stupid. I moved from Ohio to FL three years ago and experienced no particular difficulty. The politics here suck, of course. But being white, middle class, straight, double boosted, and well past breeding age, I’m largely insulated from the effects. Except that reading the local letters to the editor can affect my blood pressure.

    I do, though, have to take issue with Demsas statement that,

    The attacks on Roe did not materialize out of thin air

    Maybe not out of thin air, but they did not arise organically from Red state culture. They were carefully cultivated by GOP politicians and holy roller preachers. The latter rewriting their theology to fit.

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  4. Rick DeMent says:

    Sure but when the laws being put into effect target a specific group of people then we are getting into violation of civil rights territory.

    It’s not unlike the debate over the equal rights amendment. Conservatives argued that the issue with the law was that it was “redundant” and that woman’s rights were cover under the 14th amendment. Of course they hand waved away the the fact that a plethora of laws were passed over the years that targeted and specifically reduced the freedoms for woman in all kinds of areas including financial, sexual, and family laws without breaking a sweat. So what should have been pretty straight forward, the autonomy of women under the law, took almost two centuries to finally be real, ditto black people and other minorities (to the extent we are even there now).

    Even under a federalist system people still should have basic rights that can’t be restricted in law by a bunch of bible thumpers clustered in a bunch of small rural states. I don’t care if you think homosexuality is a sin or that trans people shouldn’t be able to walk the streets or that woman shouldn’t be able to chose a time and place to give birth. These are US citizens we are talking about with a basic right to exist in the public square and your personals feelings about “wokeness” or other such twaddle should never figure into law at any level. We are talking about basic freedoms here.

    No one is forcing anyone to get an abortion, turn gay, or change sex. the right to be exactly who you are and how you live your life should not be up for debate. No one can claim they are being harmed by someone else getting an abortion, marrying their same sex partner, or someone of a different race or using contraception. Period end of story. What is happening is a minority of people are going to start dictating how people should live their lives, I can’t see that as being sustainable.

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  5. drj says:

    To add to @Steven L. Taylor‘s point:

    Again, this is how federalism works.

    And:

    federalism, a bedrock principle of the American system of government, is that different states have different rules based on local culture, conditions, and mores.

    It is one thing to have to have different rules for different places when it comes to how citizens must relate to each other in public. It’s quite reasonable, for instance, to have different noise or nuisance regulations for people living in rural Nevada and downtown NYC.

    The right to abortion, however, is rooted (for now, at least) in the right to privacy, i.e., the principle that the government must have a compelling interest to regulate the private lives of its citizens.

    But how can the government of Texas have a compelling interest in regulating medical decisions related to first-trimester pregnancies while the government of California hasn’t?

    This makes no sense.

    Federalism is no excuse for far-reaching government intrusion in citizens’ private lives when there is no compelling public interest whatsoever.

    (Unless one would argue that embryos are people deserving of constitutional protections – but, since embryos have no brains, this is impossible without referring to religious beliefs, specifically regarding the presence of a soul).

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  6. Jen says:

    In my (expensive) little corner of New England, at least part of the problem is people not understanding how local ordinances can affect the overall market. I’m in a smallish rural community that has been growing. Longtime residents want to preserve the rural character of the town, so there are now many layers of zoning requirements and minimum lot sizes, etc. This limits the ability to build and develop here…driving prices UP. Lather, rinse, repeat.

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  7. drj says:

    @drj:

    To add to this, I get the distinct impression that some commentators simply do not understand what an ENORMOUS rollback the annulment of Roe is for the principles of privacy and self-determination.

    All of a sudden, pregnancy would make a person subject to an incredible level of state control and loss of autonomy.

    But OK because of “states’ rights,” or something?

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  8. Paine says:

    Encouraging people to “vote with their feet” would be great except for the existence of the Senate. Without it, well-run states with popular policies would see their political clout grow while the states the people are fleeing from would see their’s diminish. With the senate, you get the exact opposite, with states growing in relative power as their people leave. It’s a terrible way to arrange political power.

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  9. DK says:

    What Demsas is saying, in essence, is that living in highly desirable places like California is a luxury good.

    That depends on where in California, as Prof. Joyner implies. California is very big, very populous state. It has vast rural/agriculture areas, wide swaths of remote land, plenty of areas with affordable housing available to who can’t abide not having their right to privacy acknowledged or abortion rights protected, but who don’t want to break the bank living among Pelosi-Schiff-Waters-Lieu liberals.

    Los Angeles and the Bay Area dominate our state politically…but they are not the whole state (see McQarthy, Kevin). Worth nothing that there were more total Trump votes from Los Angeles County alone in 2016 (769,743) than from several individual states he won at landslide levels.

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  10. DK says:

    @drj: Democrats would be very smart to start saying “forced birth” and “right to privacy” all day, every day between now and November 2022.

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  11. gVOR08 says:

    @drj:

    but, since embryos have no brains, this is impossible without referring to religious beliefs, specifically regarding the presence of a soul).

    Are you trying to say embryos are Republican?

    OK, inappropriate flippancy on a serious subject. More seriously, I don’t see how a state, or Alito, can argue a compelling interest in regulating abortion without bringing in religious views, no matter how much they try to obfuscate with crap like. “deeply rooted in history and tradition”. (Apparently history ended in 1972.) Which would blow the con and invoke the First Amendment. On the other hand, five and a half Federalist drones would get to decide the case, and obfuscation is their favorite thing.

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  12. drj says:

    @gVOR08:

    I don’t see how a state, or Alito, can argue a compelling interest in regulating abortion without bringing in religious views

    The other approach, of course, is to argue that the state doesn’t even need a compelling interest (as currently understood) to interfere in people’s private lives:

    “This right isn’t deeply rooted in US history, therefore we can take it away..”

    Which is pretty much Alito’s argument. I wonder which other rights aren’t “deeply rooted,” according to this christianist reactionary (but I repeat myself).

    Conservatives want subjects, not citizens.

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  13. Sleeping Dog says:

    Another side of the mobility question revolves around businesses. The Times this AM has an article regarding businesses desire to not get involved in the abortion issue but can’t. An executive of a company that moved from CA to TX is finding it difficult to recruit talent, a long time TX based oil and chemical company has opened an office in Boston for a similar reason.

    The whole cost of living issue in some states isn’t new, when we planned to leave StL, 16 years ago, we were looking at websites that compared cost of living and tried matching you culturally to a community and IIRC, that compared to StL or Mpls, the cost of living in Boston was 180% higher, NYC – 205% and SF – 200%. But southern NH, while higher was only modestly so. We did look at northern CA, Sacramento would have been doable and after visiting Eureka, we nearly landed there. And the cost of living there was lower.

    1
  14. Cheryl Rofer says:

    New York Times Pitchbot (DougJ at Balloon Juice):
    Once the issue goes back to the states, where there is no gerrymandering and everyone can easily vote, surely the will of the people will be heard.

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  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    What Demsas is saying, in essence, is that living in highly desirable places like California is a luxury good.

    Same as it ever was. Of course, having somebody who can make a *double mocha latte with chocolate sprinkles* on top is also a luxury, but if people can’t live there on their minimal wages and have no way to manage the commute… Somethings gotta break.

    Texas loves to brag about how affordable living there is, but who in their left mind would want to subject themselves to exploding fertilizer plants, collapsing electrical grids, and an ever worsening climate?

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  16. James Joyner says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    For example, this would not be the case in Germany or Australia. Variations from state to state based on local conditions and economies are one thing, but American citizens are still American citizens.

    I should have been more explicit and said “American federalism.” It is a foundational premise of our government that most decisions should be made at the level of the state, which is pressured to have significant sovereignty within its sphere. The 14th Amendment modified that somewhat but mostly in terms of (vis gradual judicial incorporation) applying the Bill of Rights to the states. Griswold and Roe went much further but it appears Alito and company intend to roll that back.

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  17. KM says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Indeed, it should not be the case that citizens in different states have wildly different sets of rights and living conditions because of federalism.

    Federalism implicitly concludes there are no basic or fundamental rights if they can disappear within smaller judications of a larger entity. There are no inherent or human rights, only what’s granted to you. It assumes rights come from the state, not the person since it is the state that sets what’s a right and what rights from other states it feels like honoring today. It also makes rights a popularity contest as you need to convince 50 different political entities to enact the same thing in order to travel freely within the borders of the nation you’re a citizen of to be truly free.

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  18. James Joyner says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    When some people can afforded mansions with hundreds of rooms and others are living on the street, yes it is a rights issue.

    It’s an equity issue, not a rights issue.

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  19. Gavin says:

    I’m not sure what has changed “recently” regarding moving.. I have lived in a total of 9 states throughout internships and initial jobs before settling in MA near Boston. All-in, expected costs for moving to a new state are roughly 10k including renting that 16′ truck, gas, getting set up in an apartment, switching state ID’s, and the like. So when you see the metrics showing what 80% of workers in the US live paycheck to paycheck and don’t have more than 3k in their checking account… there’s also not $10k sitting around to fund a move to a different state. And in 2022 costs, 10k is likely a low estimate.

    Sure, you can probably do things to make that only 5k [Get a craigslist room! Don’t rent a truck!] but switching costs are going to be a substantial chunk no matter what you do.

    If we actually want to empower workers to be able to pick up stakes and move somewhere else — ALL workers need to be able to save money and not live paycheck-to-paycheck.

    4
  20. Kurtz says:

    @James Joyner:

    It’s an equity issue, not a rights issue.

    Acting as if these are distinct issues requires cognitive dissonance. If the right to vote had to be protected from economic constraints, that ought to tell you something about the nature of the interaction between economics and civil rights.

    Do we need to go into the criminal justice system and how the right to trial and presumption of innocence are eroded for people of lower economic status?

    Maybe it’s best to just acknowledge that deep-seated fear of change has a tendency to cause one to cling to aspirational ideals when the real world doesn’t line up with assumptions.

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  21. Cheryl Rofer says:

    @James Joyner: People cannot exercise the right to free movement if they are making subsistence wages and have no idea if they can get a job in another place. I guess homeless people can walk from one place to another, but the states are pretty big out here in the west.

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  22. Mu Yixiao says:

    @James Joyner:

    It is a foundational premise of our government that most decisions should be made at the level of the state,

    Which has been significantly eroded by the over-reaching power of the Commerce Clause (via Wickard v Filburn), and the (arguably extortionist) use of strings on federal monies (see de facto national speed limit & national drinking age).

  23. Jon says:

    @James Joyner:

    It’s an equity issue, not a rights issue.

    If the extent to which a person can exercise a right depends on their finances, then it is indeed a rights issue. It also be an equity issue, since most things have more than one root cause.

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  24. Jon says:

    @Jon: Heh, “it also be”. Sigh.

  25. Slugger says:

    I moved a lot when I was young. Youth might be a factor in moving. In 1970 the US median age was 28, and now it’s 38. In your twenties you are a rookie at work, don’t have a lot of possessions, and don’t have kids with a network of anchoring schools and friends. A person with an established job, a house full of stuff, and kids is not in a position to move, and that same 38 year old is unlikely to personally feel much impact from abortion laws or laws about gay marriage. I doubt that people will move out of state to protest the incursion on the rights of other people.

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  26. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Gavin:

    You can move for less than $5K if you are willing to move with nearly nothing. A 40-ish friend moved cross country a couple of years ago with only what she could fit in her smallish CUV. I believe she’s done that about 4 times, she told she just doesn’t get attached to stuff.

    1
  27. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mu Yixiao: (arguably extortionist)

    States are free to refuse the money if they don’t want to abide by the strings attached. I mean, it’s not like they have a right to the money.

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  28. James Joyner says:

    @Paine:

    Encouraging people to “vote with their feet” would be great except for the existence of the Senate.

    The Senate is really irrelevant; Texas gets two votes regardless of who lives there. But moving from Texas to California means being governed by California mores rather than Texas mores.

    2
  29. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Before I moved out here to rescue my boys, that was the way I lived. I never had more stuff than I could fit in the back of my p/u. My system for determining what I kept was pretty simple:

    Have I used this in the past year?
    No.
    Am I going to use it in the next year?
    No.

    Out it went. I had a few small mementos I kept for emotional reasons, but they all fit inside a cigar box.

    1
  30. James Joyner says:

    @Kurtz:

    If the right to vote had to be protected from economic constraints, that ought to tell you something about the nature of the interaction between economics and civil rights.

    Do we need to go into the criminal justice system and how the right to trial and presumption of innocence are eroded for people of lower economic status?

    These are actually great examples of the distinction I make between “rights” and equity.

    We prohibit charging a poll tax as a precondition for voting. But we don’t (at least on a consistent basis) provide transportation to the polling place or compensate hourly workers for missed wages.

    We guarantee the indigent a right to an attorney—even providing one for them—but that doesn’t mean they get to hire the Dream Team.

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    People cannot exercise the right to free movement if they are making subsistence wages and have no idea if they can get a job in another place. I guess homeless people can walk from one place to another, but the states are pretty big out here in the west.

    Most if not all of our rights are constrained by resources. There’s an old saying that the freedom of the press is reserved to those who own one. As noted above, the rich get better legal representation than the poor. It’s easier for a billionaire to run for office than it is for a pauper.

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  31. gVOR08 says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    Which has been significantly eroded by the over-reaching power of the Commerce Clause (via Wickard v Filburn), and the (arguably extortionist) use of strings on federal monies (see de facto national speed limit & national drinking age).

    The Commerce Clause. One of my favorites, and a ticking time bomb. In the intervening two centuries the courts have driven a truck through the Commerce Clause. Why? Because it was necessary. Legal fictions that allows us to have a functioning national government. Necessity is a reason conservatives do not understand, and the five and a half conservatives on the Court have been trained by the Federalist Society to not understand. Worried about what this Court will do on abortion? You ain’t seen nothing yet.

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  32. charon says:

    There once were companies in my line of work in places like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Tulsa, Chicago – all places I have worked. Almost all have been bought out by Houston based companies.

    By the time I retired, you basically worked in Houston or you didn’t work – the only place left where you could design petrochemical plants, oil refineries. off shore platforms, etc. for a living.

    1
  33. charon says:

    @charon:

    Oopsie, made a mistake, never worked in SF. ( no edit key).

  34. Just nutha says:

    @drj: It’s not that they don’t understand. It’s that they DGAF. Let’s be clear on that!

    4
  35. charon says:

    BTW, there are other considerations besides, politics, religion, culture. AZ, for example, has great weather, places to hike nearby, bike riding opportunities etc.

  36. Just nutha says:

    @Gavin: You clearly don’t understand. Almost all people living paycheck to paycheck are suffering from their own inability to manage money. IT’S ALL ON THEM! Conservatives have been fruitlessly trying to spread the truth since before I was born and it keeps falling on deaf ears. Keep remembering–if you don’t have a place to live or food to eat or 10k to move, it’s because you’ve wasting your money on liquor, porn, and fancy cellphones.

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  37. Just nutha says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Okay! We have one example. Or is it an outlier? I can’t see clearly from here.

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  38. Grommit Gunn says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: “Want to” and “need to” are, sadly, different things.

    Sole caregiver for my elderly mother, who has limited mobility and lives in my guest room out of necessity. And I’m about 9 years away from finishing out the time I need in order to qualify for a pension from TRS. If I was to abandon it now, I would be having to start over economically at 50 and would have to keep working until at least 65 instead of qualifying for retirement at 61.

    Since I have chronic medical conditions – diabetes chief among them – those four years of freedom before complications inevitably restrict my mobility and quality of life – are important.

    I’m literally just praying daily (on top of voting, candidate donations…) that this damn State doesn’t fully descend into Handmaid’s Tale in the meantime.

    2
  39. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Just nutha:

    it’s because you’ve wasting your money on liquor, porn, and fancy cellphones.

    My cell phone is not fancy!

    3
  40. Rick DeMent says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    Which has been significantly eroded by the over-reaching power of the Commerce Clause (via Wickard v Filburn), and the (arguably extortionist) use of strings on federal monies (see de facto national speed limit & national drinking age).

    You say this like it’s a bad thing. In some respects the Commerce Clause is a lot like the Electoral Collage. The EC was fine as long as the difference in state populations was small and relatively close. Now that we have a few mega states and a whole lot of tiny states it’s because a bit of a joke.

    The Commerce Clause was not given a lot of thought due to the fact that there wasn’t all that much Interstate Commerce and no national markets. Now all you have is interstate (and global) commerce and all markets are now national. We ditched the Articles of Confederation because we realized that we are no longer in an 18th century world. Now that we have moved into a 21 century world we would all be better served by ditching the idea of independent states altogether because freakily it doesn’t work. There is no more of a drag on our economy then the idea of 50 different regulatory regimes (based on arbitrarily drawn lines) that you have to navigate in order to do business in a modern world. We have whole cottage industries that have popped up to facilitate this for smaller businesses, but let’s call a spade a spade, that is a tax plain and simple for not having a robust national regularity regime.

    The only reason federalism is even something that people still support is because they would have to get dragged into the 21st century that they dread and deal with it. They prefer the autocracy of local dictators since they typically benefit more from their protection rackets then competing with the rest of the country on a level playing field (both in business and politics).

    3
  41. Gustopher says:

    @James Joyner:

    The Senate is really irrelevant; Texas gets two votes regardless of who lives there. But moving from Texas to California means being governed by California mores rather than Texas mores.

    I assume @Paine is saying that if enough people flee red states, and reddish blue states, it makes the lopsided, anti-democratic nature of the Senate even worse.

    I would go further and say that it creates a perverse incentive for Republican governors and legislators of purple states to try to force out the people who likely vote Democrat — consolidates their own position, and strengthens their party at a nation level.

    It seems absurd, and like it could only work at the edges, but Texas, Florida and Arizona could all flip blue at any moment — it depends on whether the LatinO population continues to increase, continues to shift Republican, and which is faster.

    For reddish purple states, you would expect the governments to moderate a bit to try to bring in a few of the Democratic voters, but the reverse is happening.

    (Alternate explanation: in Texas and Florida, the Republicans are scapegoating queer and trans folks in part to appeal to Latino Machismo (TM) to carve away a bit of the Democratic base. Not sure about Arizona, and their fraudit and all that, but it might just be Republicans there staring into the sun for too long)

    1
  42. @James Joyner:

    I should have been more explicit and said “American federalism.” It is a foundational premise of our government that most decisions should be made at the level of the state, which is pressured to have significant sovereignty within its sphere.

    I would state that that is a specific interpretation of how federalism works, but not really the essence of federalism. Moreover, as with most things, it is a matter of interpretation and application and not some hard and fast reality.

    I would argue that the exact nature of state-level sovereignty is limited, even under the original codification of the constitutions, as per the supremacy clause.

  43. Gustopher says:

    @Gustopher:

    LatinO

    I was going to use “LatinX” to trigger a few of our commenters, decided not to, but the iPad really wanted that letter capitalized. This is my punishment for even toying with the idea of deliberately trolling Eddie et al. (Caught it capitalizing “Al” as a name… Edward et Albert…)

    1
  44. @KM:

    Federalism implicitly concludes there are no basic or fundamental rights if they can disappear within smaller judications of a larger entity.

    I would consider this an incorrect statement (or I am misunderstanding what you are trying to say).

  45. @Mu Yixiao:

    It is a foundational premise of our government that most decisions should be made at the level of the state,

    The older I get, and the more I study and think about all of this, the more I am convinced that it is simply ludicrous to continually pretend like we are bound by centuries in the past, because even if we are going to be making “originalist” or design or “we were founded on” arguments, the reality it that even those arguments are taking place in the now. The now impacts even the way orginalist think.

    Plus, the notion that a modern nation-state is going to function the way a proto (best)-modern one did in 1789 is simply insane on its face.

    Governing the country in 1789 is simply not the same as governing the country in 2022 and the idea that federalism (a new concept in 1789) would work the same in 2022 as it did then is, in my view, mistaken.

    7
  46. @James Joyner:

    The Senate is really irrelevant; Texas gets two votes regardless of who lives there. But moving from Texas to California means being governed by California mores rather than Texas mores

    If I understand the point being made, the Senate is really significant in all of this, since even if you move to a blue state because you want more liberal policies, the reality is that national policy is still unfairly dominated by red states, because of the Senate (and the EC).

    Hence, moving only would do one so much good in this arena.

    4
  47. Jen says:

    @Just nutha: And avocado toast.

    1
  48. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Actually, that was James’ statement. I was quoting him, and forgot to blockquote it. Alas, no edit on that one.

    1
  49. DaveD says:

    @James Joyner: You seem to being doing a lot of hand waving around the fact that most Americans can’t just pick up and move. When I moved down to Alabama, I thing I regret everyday despite liking my job it wasn’t cheap.
    Also your rights vs equity arguments don’t take into account the bad faith that the right loves ie in Wisconsin with voter ID. It sure is free if you can get to the dmv the three days a month they’re open. It is a bad faith argument that does harm to people.

    4
  50. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    The older I get, and the more I study and think about all of this, the more I am convinced that it is simply ludicrous to continually pretend like we are bound by centuries in the past, because even if we are going to be making “originalist” or design or “we were founded on” arguments, the reality it that even those arguments are taking place in the now.

    I’m having a difficult time finding the right word to use in describing my opinion on the Constitution. I wouldn’t say “originalism”–certainly not “literalism”–but sort of… “back to basics”. Maybe “minimalist?”

    I would like to see more interpretations that go back to the original spirit of the document and the goals it put forth. This absolutely means adapting it to modern society and modern issues.

    For example: Our cell phone are our “papers”. They should have full protection under 4A–including at the border. And “the border”–a zone that extends 100 miles inland, and encompasses nine states in their entirety, and the majority of a couple more–should not be a “warrant-free zone”.

    I’d like to see more emphasis put on 9A, and the original idea that rights are inherent in the individual and not granted by the government.

    These brush up against “originalism” and “we were founded on”, but don’t lock us into the literal text of 1787. In that approach, Amendments 1, 4, and 9 confirm (not grant) a right to privacy. That right can–and should–be interpreted to encompass the right to bodily autonomy. So… I should be able to do whatever I want with my own body–within constraints which protect the rights and safety of others. This includes abortions and mega-sized slurpees.

    4
  51. al Ameda says:

    Alito, Barrett, Thomas are radical Catholics and radical ‘originalists,’ and Kavanaugh and Gorsuch are not far from them on either count.

    Is anyone going to be surprised if a challenge to Obergefell v. Hodges (gay marriage) isn’t in front of the Supreme Court sometime in the coming months or years? It’s yet another item that the radical right views as ‘judicial activism’ and not as ‘equal protection under the law.’ Contraception and morning after birth control? It’s all on the table now.

    I would not have said that 5 years ago, but here we are.

    7
  52. DK says:

    @al Ameda: The conservative commentariat is aghast that Democrats are “fearmongering” about anti-privacy forced birthers coming for marriage equality and contraception next. Republican politicos insist the radical right GQP and its tyrannical Apartheid Court will not seek to further impose their extremist religious views.

    The American people have no reason to trust them.

    5
  53. Kurtz says:

    @James Joyner:

    You’re ignoring that we make accommodations that reduce that burden. On its face, you are choosing broad economic rights over a specific political right. And committing a fallacy in the course of making that choice.

    A right can be waived, but not under coercion. Otherwise, it’s not a right.

    Also,

  54. Kathy says:

    @DK:

    That’s a lesson the world should have learned after the Munich Agreement. The Sudetenland was not the last territorial claim made by the German chancellor.

    3
  55. gVOR08 says:

    @Just nutha:

    it’s because you’ve wasting your money on liquor, porn, and fancy cellphones.

    They get the Obama phones free, and have since Reagan.

    1
  56. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy: In defense of Chamberlain, appeasement was a time-honored tradition before WW2, with small provinces being passed back and forth basically to say “oh, congratulations on your ascension to power and we understand your need to do a little saber rattling to keep the base energized — here, have some Czechs, remember to pass them on to someone else when you’re bored of them”

    Hitler violated the norms by not being appeased despite the appeasement.

    The trick is to know who will abide by norms.

    2
  57. gVOR08 says:

    @Kathy: Nor Crimea by Putin.

  58. Mimai says:

    Within-country comparisons are interesting. So too are cross-country comparisons. Especially given the “I’m gonna move to another country” and “If you don’t like it, you should move to another country” statements that one often hears in these discussions.

    Here are three cross-country comparisons that seem especially relevant.

    Abortion.

    LGBT.

    Gender.

    (fingers crossed this post makes it through the spam filter)

    1
  59. Kurtz says:

    @Just nutha:

    you’ve wasting your money on liquor, porn, and fancy cellphones.

    You forgot heroin and crack.

    But those good ol’ boys hooked on Hillbilly Heroin are just in a bad way and need some guidance from a pastor.

  60. Just nutha says:

    @Jen: My bad. I left that out.

    1
  61. Jax says:

    @Mimai: Thanks for that, the maps on the first two are enlightening. I was wondering the other day how varying laws across international countries compared with what might be about to happen here.

    2
  62. Just nutha says:

    @gVOR08: The only person I’ve ever known who tried an Obama phone went back to Trakfone @$25 or 30 dollars at the end of the first month. Several people say the service is spotty in our state, but don’t know why.

  63. Kathy says:

    @Gustopher:

    I’ll buy that.

    Also, many of the horrors of WWI were fresh in people’s memories, and Britain wasn’t prepared to fight a major war (that’s why things went so badly for the Allies in the first two years, and why the Battle of Britain was such a big deal).

    It’s also very easy to say he nevertheless was wrong. but I wonder how things would have gone had Chamberlain responded with military action to the rising nazi menace.

  64. Mister Bluster says:

    …wasting your money on liquor, porn, and fancy cellphones.

    Sixty years ago it would have been liquor, Playboys and color TV.
    I can only assume that Mu’s cellphone has a black and white display.

  65. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    Chamberlain gets a bit of a bad rap. Even though I agree that IN THEORY you shouldn’t ever appease authoritarians (the main complaint against him) the simple fact was that the British had no real way to actually stop Germany taking the Sudetenland. The British military outside the navy was a complete farce at the time–and Czechoslovakia was a land-locked country. No matter what we support in theory, in practice, sometimes you don’t always have a choice. As for the French…their military was completely adapted for defense (and very poorly at that, as subsequent years proved). They couldn’t do anything either. If anything history should complain much more about their abandonment of the Czechs–they even had a defense treaty with them that they just ignored. But it’s Chamberlain and the Brits who have taken the most abuse historically, PROBABLY because of Chamberlain’s infamous “peace in our time” line (which is pretty much just normal politician news-bite double-speak, and even Chamberlain knew it).

  66. James Joyner says:

    @DaveD:

    Also your rights vs equity arguments don’t take into account the bad faith that the right loves ie in Wisconsin with voter ID. It sure is free if you can get to the dmv the three days a month they’re open.

    But I would agree with you that this is an infringement on rights. Yes, economics plays a part but the problem is the state action.

  67. James Joyner says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Plus, the notion that a modern nation-state is going to function the way a proto (best)-modern one did in 1789 is simply insane on its face.

    Governing the country in 1789 is simply not the same as governing the country in 2022 and the idea that federalism (a new concept in 1789) would work the same in 2022 as it did then is, in my view, mistaken.

    Yes, we agree on this. My problem is: what to do about it?

    Theoretically, we should have had a second (and maybe a third and fourth) Constitutional Convention by now and replaced the arrangement of 1789 with something more modern. Or, at very least, amended it many more times to update it to accommodate present circumstances. But, for reasons you’re well aware of, we haven’t done that.

    My second-favorite alternative would be for Congress to pass more sweeping legislation, using its powers under the Commerce Clause and the 14th Amendment, to address these issues at the margins. We couldn’t abolish the Electoral College that way but we could adopt proportional voting to essentially render it a reflection of the popular vote. We couldn’t abolish the Senate that way but we couldat least expand the size of the House. But the very inequities in the original document that require fixing mitigate against a lot of this.

    My least-favorite alternative is for the Supreme Court to sit as a de facto rolling Constitutional Convention. But it sort of has, to the chagrin of conservatives for a number of decades and, now, to the chagrin of progressives.

    1
  68. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Kathy: Some of the German generals were prepared to remove Hitler if he took Germany into a war where defeat was a likely outcome. This, of course, only came out after WW2.

  69. Barry says:

    @Gustopher: “In defense of Chamberlain, ..”

    From what I’ve heard, the UK Govt was not delusional. They expected war, and were trying to buy time.

  70. Barry says:

    @James Joyner: “But I would agree with you that this is an infringement on rights. Yes, economics plays a part but the problem is the state action.”

    Please note that the SCOTUS which tells people to use the political process has supported GOP voter suppression.