Americans' powerful identification with their country poses a significant threat to the system of intergovernmental competition that the Framers envisioned. The Framers believed that the state and federal governments would compete with one another for citizens' loyalty and for the regulatory power which that loyalty often yields, and that this competition would give both sovereigns strong incentives to remain finely attuned to the needs and desires of the citizenry. I contend that the nation's seemingly exclusive claim to citizens' patriotism significantly shields the federal government from the competitive forces that the Framers believed would restrain its ability to govern in objectionable ways. I conclude by advancing a two-part argument. First, to ensure that the federal government does not wield monopolistic power in a vast array of domains, we should give increased consideration to treaties and other regulatory alternatives that require America's leaders to negotiate with their counterparts in other countries. Second, in the years ahead, Americans may very well develop the supra-national patriotic sentiments necessary to sustain such models of international governance.
I do wonder how many federalism supporters saw this abstract and started flailing their arms wildly, shouting for attention. But even still, it's an interesting point.
And while we're on the subject of too much patriotism undermining the ideals our nation was founded upon, I note with some satisfaction that the flag desecration amendment failed in the senate today--albeit by one vote. I wrote these letters to my senators prior to the vote, but unfortunately I believe both voted for the amendment.