Federalist Paper #2 was written for a budding nation prior to adopting the Constitution to encourage the separate states to bond together into one, united federal government. So, what does an essay “Concerning Dangers From Foreign Force and Influence” have to do with California in 2023? This paper was written in a different time, by different people who knew nothing of diesel or electric cars. The author of the paper, John Jay, likely could have never even imagined a new state over 2,900 miles away. So how can the principles and ideas in this paper apply to California’s exit tax?
When Federalist No. 2 was written, the states were highly autonomous. They had their own militias and were very fond of their state constitutions. The people were also highly on guard from any government that had even a whiff of becoming as tyrannical and authoritarian as the British monarchy. They fought a war to free themselves from that force of government and many within the states thought the newly proposed Constitution would lead to that over-reaching government once more. In Federalist No. 2, John Jay makes several points about state unity that still apply today. He pointed out that when push came to shove, the states all banded together. When we declared war, we did it as one country. We did because the states are connected by more than just borders: it is easy to travel between the states to provide aid and also to conduct mutually beneficial transport and trade of commodities. In other words, the states do not act like separate sovereign nations. Jay also notes that the loudest voices against the proposed united federal government were the politicians; the citizens preferred unity, but the politicians had more to gain by keeping the states separate and at odds against themselves.
California is starting to project their ideology onto other states by enacting regulations on diesel semi-trucks. The state is virtually declaring an all-out war on diesel big rig operators who are just trying to peacefully deliver products to businesses and consumers in California. Starting earlier this year, any truck that has a pre-2010 motor is not allowed to operate in California. San Francisco ports and railways are phasing out non-EV trucks by 2035. California even has the temerity to tell federal agencies and other “high-priority fleets” to convert to EV by 2042. This is not beneficial transport and trade between states. California is creating a barrier to the ports that many Americans use for their businesses and livelihood. They are blackmailing other states through their transportation and economy. It is a fantasy to pretend this is beneficial to our economic system and the peacefulness of our federal system. It is damaging to businesses and states who look upon California with jealousy and discontent. The federal system depends on the parts making up the whole and the unity of all the states reflects on the national discontent.
Federalist No. 2 also makes the point that the country and the people are made for each other and pleads that the states not split into separate, unsocial, jealous sovereignties. How else can jealousy be shown than to monetarily punish those who leave your state? California is trying to escape from the consequences of its own failing ideology by either preventing people from leaving the state or by taxing them for the crime of leaving. This shows both jealousy and unsocial behavior which in turn creates enmity between the states. The governor of California is buying ads in Florida asking citizens to leave Florida and come back, being openly hostile towards the Floridian governor. This is not the behavior and conduct that states in a united federal government should be exhibiting towards one another. The people should be freely able to move between the states and conduct their lives and business freely, choosing which state best serves their interests, fortunes and happiness. California is actively upsetting a peaceful balance that this republic has guaranteed citizens for centuries. It is time for them to remember that they are but one piece of a whole and to act more amicably to their fellow partners.
To be fair to California, the Constitution did grant a vast number of powers to the states. But with great power comes great responsibility and the founders noted that just because states can do something does not mean that they should (a note more politicians should heed). They intended for the states to be wise, prudent and good neighbors. However, the politicians are the ones who gain the most from this discord. They can draw upon the flaming emotions and drum up support by turning us against one another. We must come together once again in this country, and this starts state by state. If we as citizens treat each other as California and Florida treat each other, how can we expect any result other than the one we are seeing? We must stop brow beating one another with our ideologies and instead be agreeable in our disagreements. We must be neighbors and embrace the model of the federal government our founders envisioned: a bunch of pieces that make up a wonderful whole.