Decentralized political power is characterized by four values. The quadratic persuasion of decentralism includes four philosophical underpinnings: democracy, liberty, community, and morality.
Chapter 2 – The Country Party: Agrarianism Surveyed
There is less population density and more individual liberty in the country compared to the city. There are fewer formal constraints and a greater sense of personal responsibility on farms and in small towns. Paradoxically, freedom is maximized in such an environment yet a sense of community also flourishes. Urban areas include their fair share of decentralists and big-city anonymity provides liberty of a sort, but agrarianism remains foundational to the dispersal of power and independence from the state.
Chapter 3 – Nullification and the Politics of State Sovereignty
Nullification—the deliberate disregard of a federal law by a state or lower level of government—is a potentially powerful tool for decentralization. The refusal to enforce what is considered to be an unconstitutional or unjust statute can represent a retrieval of power by a more appropriate level and a restoration of authority on a more human scale. In the history of the
Chapter 4 – The Path Not Taken by the Progressive Era and New Deal
The party that created nullification via Jefferson and Madison, and was suspicious of federal bureaucratic control as late as the early 1900s under W.J. Bryan’s leadership, turned in the opposite direction as a result of its embrace of Woodrow Wilson in the 1910s and FDR in the 1930s. In this way, the national Democratic Party became committed to big government both domestically and on the global stage.
Chapter 5 – Southern Democrats and Selective Devolutions
Naturally inclined as they were to remember old times in the land of cotton, many southern Democrats retained the decentralist, constitutionalist, and populist traditions of Jefferson and Jackson. Over time, however, many leading southern Democrats in D.C. were co-opted by the imperial city. By the 1960s, the Democratic parties in the southern states were no longer principled opponents of big government—most of the opposition that was still in existence was highly selective and poisoned by racial bigotry.
Chapter 6 – Me-Too Republicans and Averted Revolutions
In the mid-twentieth-century, Jeffersonian politics experienced a revival within the Republican Party under statesmen such as Robert Taft and Barry Goldwater. Even though Goldwater was nominated for president by the GOP in 1964, his triumph was an aberration as most Republican leaders continued to echo the centralizing, big-government policies of the Democrats.
Chapter 7 – Ronald Reagan: Conservatism Co-Opted
The nomination and election of Ronald Reagan seemingly brought victory to the conservative small-government wing of the party, but the victory was, for the most part, an illusion. The Reagan interregnum was co-opted as liberal GOP centralists donned the mantle of “Reagan Republican” after 1980 even as they continued to pursue their traditional policies of constitutional elasticity, federal domination, deficit spending, government/corporate alliance, and internationalism.
Chapter 8 – Dissident Voices in an Age of Centralization
Although the establishments of both parties, regardless of region and rhetoric, are pillars of a national and international status quo in which big government and big business work together, often at the expense of the common good, there have been movements and politicians that have resisted the trend. These dissident voices can be found on both the Right and the Left.