When you hear especially Deep Southern political leaders talking about states' rights, what does that mean if they want to roll back federal power significantly and increase those of state governments? In effect, in most locations what they're talking about is transferring powers in the Deep South to regions — they control quite a number of state governments — and removing federal oversight over many aspects that the federal government does have now, protections and enforcement of certain interpretations of what the Constitution means in education or in religion and public life and so on and so forth. So When you talk about states' rights you're talking about devolving authority away from the central government and you're starting to create something that resembles more the original confederation before the 1789 Constitution or resembles, oddly enough, today's European Union — a weaker set of shared central institutions and a stronger set of sovereign individual governments. In fact there are whole regions of the country, whether or not they've thought through it clearly, that are basically advocating policies that would lead us to being more of an European Union than a strong federation as we have been. Those who like to shake the American flag around in a nationalistic way, many of them, oddly enough, are advocating policies that would make us more like "wicked" Europe, structurally and politically.

THROUGHOUT THE BOOK YOU QUOTE PEOPLE, COLONIAL AND POST-COLONIAL LEADERS AND EVEN THROUGH THE CIVIL WAR, WHO ARE TACITLY ACKNOWLEDGING THESE BOUNDARIES AND THE CONFLICTS BETWEEN THE REGIONS. IT SEEMS LIKE THAT UNDERSTANDING DOESN'T EXIST ANYMORE IN THE BROADER SOCIAL DIALOGUE. It's not obvious. When people step back in the big picture it's often forgotten, but you get a little closer to the ground and people still know where those fissures are. I mean every Marylander knows there are three Marylands and they could probably tell you exactly where the line is between them. Southern Maryland is a very different place from Northern Maryland or Western Maryland and the same thing in Texas. Every Texan knows that Austin is the capital but that Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio are the hubs of three very different Texases. California, upstate Illinois, downstate Illinois, I mean it goes on and on, but recall that line from Primary Colors where the James Carville character is giving one of the other characters a primer on Pennsylvania politics: "It's Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and Alabama in between." If you're speaking of Highland Alabama that's essentially correct in regional cultural terms. When you look at it state by state people sort of know that. We just forget about talking about it often when we, you know, start actually covering national politics. Those divisions have remained; they are just not always focused on.

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