Typical State Legislature – mprnews.org
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis was referring to the then-48 states when he coined the phrase “laboratories of democracy.” They were the focus of his dissent in a 1932 case that involved federalism (states’ rights) and the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. Justice Brandeis was arguing that states should be free to “try novel social and economic experiments” without federal intervention.
Republicans totally agree with Brandeis and federalism. That’s why they advocate for lower taxes, limited federal government, fewer regulations and significantly less federal spending. Lately, some Republicans are even seriously talking about cutting Medicare and Social security benefits to reduce spending. Numerous GOP politicians have also called for eliminating entire federal agencies, like the Department of Education. They want to transfer primary responsibility for environmental protection, welfare and other federal programs to the states.
Well, I’ve been wondering how the Republican laboratories of democracy would cope with these added burdens. So, let’s take look.
Education is the key to a higher paying job.
The federal government subsidizes education in all states. Still, seven of the 10 with the poorest education systems in 2022 are GOP-controlled, according to a report on Scholaroo.com. To be fair, California, probably the most liberal state in the nation, has the seventh worst education system. There are no solid red states with the best education systems in the top 10.
Good health means better quality of life.
Uncle Sam also provides large subsidies to the states for health care. Yet, all 10 of the states with the poorest health care systems in 2022 are solidly red, according to WalletHub, a financial services website that publishes research I frequently use. Six of these states have refused to expand Medicaid under The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).
America’s greatest asset is its youth.
Based on 16 key metrics, nine of the 10 states in 2022 with the most at-risk youth are Republican-controlled, according to WalletHub. These are the young people who are poorly educated, under employed or unemployed and are in poor physical and/or mental health. There are no solidly red states among the 10 with the least at-risk youth.
Strong economies boost state budgets.
Among the 10 states with the poorest economies in 2022, according to WalletHub, eight are GOP-Controlled. There are some red states with large economies too, particularly Texas and Florida, but neither is among the mostly blue states with the top 10 economies.
“Life is precious!”
That’s what one of my relatives used to say. “I’ve got plenty of money,” he would tell me, although his only income was Social Security, “I just need to find a way to stay alive.” Well, he was over 86 when he passed and his example helps highlight the differences in life expectancies among the states in 2022. The 10 that have the shortest – 76.9 down to 74.4 years – are all solidly Republican, according to 24/7 Wall St. The 10 with the longest, with the top being 80.9 years (83.9 for women), are mostly blue, with one or perhaps two being purple.
States, counties and cities are responsible for most public services.
WalletHub evaluated the quality of the services that residents receive in each of the 50 states within five categories, education, health, safety, the economy and infrastructure & pollution. Nine of the 10 states whose services scored the lowest in 2022 are GOP-controlled.
States and local governments are responsible for crime control.
Nine of the states with the highest rates of violent crime in 2020 have Republican-controlled legislatures, according to a recent report on USAFacts.org, which was based on the most recent statistics available from the FBI.
All States Depend heavily on federal funding.
Federal dollars typically average between 30 and 32% of yearly state revenues. In budgets of some poorer– mostly red – states, federal dollars are over 40% of revenues, according to the Tax Foundation. Of the 10 states most dependent on federal government support in 2022, nine are solidly Republican, according to WalletHub.
Budgets for all states except Vermont must balance. Consequently, their legislatures must significantly raise taxes or dramatically cut services if revenues fall short of budgeted spending due to reductions in federal support, or whatever reason.
What does all this mean?
Of course, the ideology of the party that controls the state government, although quite significant, isn’t the only reason why socioeconomic conditions differ from state to state. It is clear to me, however, that if the GOP’s policies of cutting taxes, enfeebling federal agencies and slashing spending were to ever become law, Republican-controlled states and Republican voters would suffer the most.
Finally, this is just one reason why I don’t believe the GOP will ever succeed in replacing American democracy with a one-party government. Voters would soon come to realize that Republican policies mostly benefit wealthy Americans and don’t really work them. Sure, many corporate leaders favor lower taxes and fewer regulations but statistics show that the economy does better under Democratic presidents. Besides, I don’t believe the titans of industry will want a loser, ignoramus like Donald Trump or a right-wing blowhard like Ron DeSantis dictating what they can or can’t do.
Yes, MAGA Republicans will create chaos and dysfunction in Washington, for sure. But I don’t believe their attempts to override free and fair elections and/or undermine the rule of law will ever succeed.
I always feel better after I read your articles. Some scare me, but more comfort me.
That is reassuring, because I share some of your optimism about the future of American democracy and its institutions. The pendulum swings, sometimes wildly, until the public sees that it has been played for fools. I’m hoping that will be the case this time, and electoral outcomes and government policies will reflect the shift.
Lately, some Republicans are even seriously talking about cutting Medicare and Social security benefits to reduce spending. How about this–let the voters in each state, voting in a plebiscite determine for their state if they want to abolish Medicare and Social Security. How could the GOP be against that kind of “states’ rights”? And how do you think such a vote would turn out?