The battle has been the same in American politics since the very beginning: do individual states deserve power, or should the Federal government be the ultimate arbiter of what goes on in this country? Historically speaking, Federalism has always won out, and, I believe, led this nation to be among the best (at least in terms of technology, quality of life, etc.).
When the first government of the United States was formed under the Articles of Confederation, it was discovered rather quickly that having a weak central government was not in the best interest of the nation. Later on, it has been the direction of the federal government that has led to our greater achievements as a nation: a coast to coast, border to border highway system (which we take for granted, but try driving across Southeast Asia or Africa); a relatively stable political system, which so far hasn't led to too much upheaval (check out, well, EVERYWHERE else); etc. The Federal government led the way in these things. The Federal government took us into space, which has led to many of the advancements of the modern era.
It's been the Supreme Court that has been at the forefront of the changes to American life. Desegregation generally would not have occurred had it not been for Brown V. Board, and then later, leaders calling on Federal troops to enforce these changes. Many, of course, will say that the Federal government had no right to enter a state battle, however, this is still ONE country, and in that country, there must be certain standards.
I believe this in no way conflicts with what the Founders had in mind. I don't think Health care or highways or any of that conflicts with what this nation was founded on, which was the ability of each person, regardless of who they are, to succeed. In fact, I would, and have argued that something like Universal health care allows for greater prosperity.
And so what if it does conflict with what Thomas Jefferson wanted America to be? We treat the founders of this nation with some kind of religious fervor, as if they were not only perfect people, but God himself guided Jefferson's drunken hand to write out the Declaration of Independence.
Times change. Things change. America has evolved, the world has evolved. We should have a system that continually moves with these changes.
And we do. We have a document that allows for it's very core to be changed and interpreted. There is literally nothing in the Constitution that is supposed to remain untouched. If we as a nation agree on a course that requires a change to the Constitution, we have the ability to change or add to it. And I don't imagine James Madison or George Washington would be too upset over it.
See, they knew they were building a system which would have to adapt. Heck, they themselves rarely got along, why would they expect us to get along? They didn't: they knew we'd have disagreements and want to go in different directions. And so the system made in Philadelphia in 1787 was meant to be malleable.
So what's my point? My point is that it is because of a historically strong central government that America has progressed. In fact, I would say that states acting under their own power has traditionally set us back as a people. I cannot think of a single act by a lone state which has not ended in trouble. Obviously each state has it's own laws on certain things, but I would mostly say that any law that was less progressive than a national average has led that state to suffer, generally in terms of health care and education.
(To be continued...)