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Tags: states | democracy | louis brandeis

Should States Serve as Laboratories for Democracy?

a side view of a map of the united states

Gene Berardelli By Wednesday, 28 February 2024 04:01 PM EST Current | Bio | Archive

You might have heard some politico mention how our 50 states are like “laboratories of democracy.” It’s a reference to an opinion offered by Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis to describe how "a single courageous State may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country."

It is certainly a succinct way to explain one of the benefits of our federal system. But intertwined within Brandeis’ thought lies an additional benefit: that Brandeis’ state laboratories also serve as an efficient means of identifying “red flags” from a would-be buffoon whenever one of those “novel social and economic experiments” goes awry and blows up in their face.

Recent reporting exposed two such failed experiments. Last week, a Democrat in the Colorado Assembly named Regina English sought to address a need she identified to address care of pets left unattended by a senior affected by a medical emergency.

In response to that need, English proposed a bill that would create a brand-new state bureaucracy requiring all pet owners, ranging from dogs and cats to even goldfish, to register their animal in a state database, to designate an emergency caregiver for their animal, and, of course, to pay an annual fee for choosing to own a pet. Failure to register in the proposed scheme would result in a civil penalty.

See? Brandeis was right. The “laboratory” in Colorado just found a “new and novel” way for “big government” to part you from even more of your money. And, voters just saw a whole bunch of “red flags” pop up around English.

Unsurprisingly, many did not take kindly to the results of English’s experiment. Not only was English roundly mocked on social media, but English even claimed to have received death threats in response to her proposed bureaucratic abomination.

Luckily for every parent of a “fur baby” in Colorado, English immediately withdrew her bill, but did state that she was going back into the lab to revise her blunderbuss approach to a very specific problem.

Just as hilarious is the story out of Kentucky’s state house of a Republican named Nick Wilson, who parlayed his success on the hit reality show “Survivor” into a burgeoning career as a politician. To the amusement of some (and the shock of others) Wilson set off a bunch of “red flags” when he committed a glaring omission within a bill he proposed last month that caused embarrassment to him and the Bluegrass State.

Wilson sponsored a bill which he claimed would strengthen criminal laws concerning sexual contact by a family member. However, during the process of drafting his bill, someone “inadvertently” omitted existing language referencing the illegality of relations between first cousins, leading detractors to accuse Wilson of pushing to legalize such … familiarity.

Wilson addressed his error in a Facebook post, stating that his true intention was to strengthen the existing law, not weaken it. Wilson took it on the chin, admitting his Scribner’s error, and he immediately withdrew his defective bill with tail tucked firmly between his legs.

Brandeis’ state laboratories proved effective in exposing the follies of both Regina English and Nick Wilson. Hopefully, they each learn from their mistakes.

But Brandeis’ wisdom, much like any other tool, is only as good as those who put it to use. That means voters must become more vigilant in recognizing these “red flags” when they pop up within these laboratories of democracy so that we can collectively nip political buffoonery in the bud.

Gene Berardelli is a street-smart New York-based trial attorney who has developed a solid reputation as both an election attorney successfully representing conservative candidates, and as an award-winning content creator and author of "Schnooks, Crooks, Liars and Scoundrels: A Field Guide To Identifying Political Buffoons." — Click Here Now.

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Brandeis was right. The “laboratory” in Colorado just found a “new and novel” way for “big government” to part you from even more of your money. And, voters just saw a whole bunch of “red flags” pop up ...
states, democracy, louis brandeis
Wednesday, 28 February 2024 04:01 PM
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