Hamilton: Election 2016: Will it reseat the wagon?
Faithful readers may recall these paragraphs from a column published two weeks prior to the 2016 presidential election: “… Our Founding Fathers took care to see that values and mores of those living in rural America would not be overwhelmed by the expected waves of immigration crowding into what actually did become our ‘teeming’ cities. They did this by allocating two U.S. Senators to each state, irrespective of a state’s population. For balance, they based the allocation of seats in the U.S. House of Representative on population…”
Yet the Founders’ protection of the values and mores of rural America did not stop there. The Founders also created the Electoral College which serves to give each and every state, no matter how small, a voice in presidential elections. Today, 60-percent of our population inhabits the “teeming” cities and only 40-percent live in rural America. Without the Electoral College, presidential elections would be decided almost entirely by people living in urban centers such as: New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and Philadelphia.
But, despite the wisdom of the Founders, the balance in the allocation of federal tax dollars has been shifting with more money going to the urban areas and less money going to rural America. Quoting again from that previous column: “…This balance between the interests of rural ‘geography’ versus urban ‘population’ protected the interests of rural America until 1962 when the Warren Court decided the case of Baker v. Carr in favor of the plaintiff, Carr, who claimed the State of Tennessee, was failing to faithfully execute its own statutes governing reapportionment.
“Prior to Baker vs. Carr, the Supreme Court of the United States held that political district reappointment within a state was a political matter for the states to decide and, therefore, out-of-bounds for intervention by federal courts. By six-to-two, the Warren Court ruled the federal courts can overrule the individual states with regard to how their internal political boundaries are drawn.
“Baker vs. Carr is known as the ‘one-man, one-vote’ ruling. While the sentiment has a warm and fuzzy ring to it, the impact of Baker vs. Carr was to put America’s urban population at the steering wheel of government and America’s rural/small-town population in the back seat…”
By basing the allocation of resources so heavily on population, the growth in the numbers of urban-based federal and state employees has been phenomenal. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of government employees now outnumbers Americans employed in the manufacture of goods and services and agriculture by a ratio of almost two-to-one. Or, as the late Will Rogers might put it: We have about twice as many folks riding in the wagon as we have folks pulling the wagon.
How long a society can survive with more folks riding than pulling remains to be seen. But the recent discovery of over 900 billion barrels of oil beneath West Texas offers the very real possibility of energy independence for America that well might result in a Second American Industrial Revolution, getting millions of Americans back to pulling the wagon. To paraphrase Winston Churchill: If we can achieve energy independence, the life of the United States “may move forward into the broad, sunlit uplands” of tomorrow.
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, is a laureate of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma University Army ROTC Wall of Fame, and named a Distinguished Alumnus of the University of Nebraska. He was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the George Washington University, the U.S Naval War College, the University of Nebraska, and Harvard University.
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