Way back in the 1860s General Robert E. Lee accurately predicted the next 150 years, and all in one sentence. From Toadstool at theburningplatform.com:
“The consolidation of the states into one vast empire, sure to be aggressive abroad and despotic at home, will be the certain precursor of ruin which has overwhelmed all that preceded it.” Robert E. Lee
The man was perceptive. Amalgamation of the states under a central government has led to exactly the effects foreseen by General Lee.
In, say, 1950, to an appreciable though imperfect extent America resembled a confederacy. Different regions of the America had little contact with each other, and almost no influence over one another. The federal government was small and remote. Interstates did not exist, nor of course the internet, nor even direct long-distance telephone dialing. West Virginia, Alabama, Massachusetts, New York City, Texas, and California had little in common, but little conflict arose since for practical purposes they were almost different countries. They chiefly governed themselves. The proportion of federal to state law was small.
It is important to note that regional differences were great. In 1964 in rural Virginia, the boys brought shotguns to school during deer season. Nobody shot anybody because it wasn’t in the culture. The culture was uniform, so no one was upset. It is when cultures are mixed, or one rules another, that antagonism comes. Such shotgun freedom would not have worked in New York City with its variegated and often mutually hostile ethnicities.
Regions differed importantly in degree of freedom, not just in the freedom of local populations to govern themselves but also in individual freedom. It made a large difference in the tenor of life. If in Texas, rural Virginia, or West Virginia you wanted to build an addition to your house, you did. You didn’t need licenses, permits, inspections, union-certified electricians. Speed limits? Largely ignored. Federal requirements for Coast Guard approved flotation devices on your canoe? What the hell kind of crazy idea was that?
To continue reading: General Lee Speaks: Had it Figured Out