Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Patriotic Fervor

Via Rick Garnett, a really interesting claim about the role of patriotism in America's governmental system. It seems that too much of it is, well, unpatriotic:
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.


John Peltier said...

It's called nationalism, when love of one's country turns into the belief that it's better than others. Same thing the Germans believed for awhile. And it's dangerous.

Belle Lettre said...

And then there's jingoism, which is similarly dangerous.

jack said...

The Republicans would never actually alter the Constitution- you'll notice that three Republicans including McConnell (the 2nd in command) voted in opposition to the amendment. Bringing it up for a vote just lets them use the issue in November. Its the same thing with Roe v. Wade- they don't want to win of the cultural issues- they get elected on those issues but they're all about the economic ones.

David Schraub said...

I don't think you're right on this, Jack. All three of the GOPers who have opposed the flag burning amendment (McConnell, Bennett, and Chaffee) have all been quite consistent on this position. And it certainly would have been a deadly game of chicken--they came up one vote short, and Sen. Tom Carper was said to be on the fence up until the end before he voted nay. Besides, sending this amendment to the states would do more to rile up the GOP base than having it fail over and over again. Can you imagine the turnout effect if that issue was on the ballot?

Let's try to not get tinfoil hat on every issue, yes?