Friday, 8 July 2016

Politically Pulled Apart

In an American Presidential campaign, that in many ways reflects the extreme ranges of social polarisation in current US society between 'immigrants' and 'natives', rich and poor, low tax and high tax, colour and religion, etc, there is always one thread to the US story that recurs, and its the one that deals with the powers of central government (federal) control, versus local state control.

The US constitution naturally leans toward the states retaining as much local control over their governance as possible, whilst the reality of 21st century politics, often pulls power to the centre.

This dichotomy of interests is of course not unique to the USA, indeed Great Britain has, via a powerful constituent region (and the hubris of the Labour Party), started a shift to local control via devolution, that will most certainly break the country apart eventually. Whilst in Spain, similar calls for devolution are being strongly resisted by the main government, for fear of much the same scenario being played out there as well.

American Constitution Subject To Change

But in the USA, this battle has an almost sacred aspect to many (especially, but not always exclusively, to those on the political right). The 'intentions' of the founding fathers in their writing of the US constitution, has been the subject of many court battles (aka constitution amendments) over the centuries, with the results blowing first one way, and then the other over that time. The greatest test being when the Southern states tried to exercise their legal right to secede from the Union ... an attempt that was rejected by the federal centre via armed force.

However there has always been a core belief in many, that within certain limits, the US states could each set local laws, to suit their nature and local beliefs. This idea has been fought over issues such as 'Black Civil Rights', where again the federal will prevailed, and now its being fought over 'Gay Rights', where many US states have passed, or rather attempted to pass what are known as "religious freedom" laws. These are attempts to prevent faith-based organisations and individuals from being forced to service the gay community e.g. perform religious marriages, or attend of similar events in an official capacity.

Now I have discussed the matter before (in relation to a case that was being fought in the UK), and don't propose to reopen that debate, but it seems to me wrong that I could be sued for not supporting a 'gay' event, whilst I can't sue for being 'forced' to 'support' such an event. Its a fact after all, that the Anglican and Episcopal Churches contain enough 'gay' clergy, that they can provide enough officials for any number of events, with out the need to force those who believe its wrong to 'support' them.

Americans Have Always Had An Uneasy Relationship With Corporations

But that point aside, many US states have been fighting local battles over the whole issue, including over the latest 'LGBT' demand that people can use 'rest rooms' (bathrooms), according to how they feel they are sexually orientated (regardless of actual sexual assignment) .... I feel that I shouldn't even have to start saying why that is plain wrong (butt that's the way the wind is blowing across the US).

However campaigners against these social changes have discovered an awkward fact. That is that their state, and the peoples wishes expressed through legislation, are not only subject to the control by the federal state government, but also to the whim of big business.

For example in the US state of Georgia, the state legislature was on the point of passing one of these "religious freedom" bills, aimed at enabling those who felt that their religious freedom were being violated, to not officiate at 'Gay Weddings'. The law only needed the state governor (a Republican named Mr Deal) to sign it, before it passed into law.

He suddenly refused, and then vetoed the legislation. Ostensibly he claimed that the reason was because he felt that the state of Georgia did not have to "discriminate against anyone to protect the faith-based community" .... but it has since transpired that big corporations such as Disney, Marvel comics, The National Football League, Coca-Cola, Warner Bros and others, threatened to pull their business out of the state if the law was passed.

Now regardless of the issues that provoked this economic and political interference, the fact is that this was Corporate America flexing its muscles, and demonstrating in a very firm way, that the myth of US state independence, is just that a myth.

Hard political reality, and even harder US dollars, are how a US state is now run ..... local democracy is a poor second best these days.

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