2024 Presidential Race Reminds Us: States Matter

By Trent England, Guest Columnist

The midterm elections are over, so now the question is: Who will be the Democratic and Republican nominees for President in 2024? Americans will sort that out over the next 18 months. Assuming Joe Biden either declines to run again or is challenged in his own party, two sets of major-party candidates will work in the states to win their party’s nomination. The state-by-state nature of the contest is thanks to the Electoral College, even though the party nominating processes are different from the presidential election process.

At the beginning, our nation was made up of 13 states. Some had begun as colonies more than 150 years earlier. Each had a unique history. The two colonies that became Massachusetts were founded by English Puritans with an explicitly religious vision. Virginia began as a commercial enterprise. Maryland was a place for Catholics. New York and Delaware were settled by the Dutch. And as new states joined the union, each also brought a unique history, geography, and population.

The Constitution preserved the states for multiple reasons, including necessity. There would have been no continental nation without the states, because the representatives of each state—especially the smaller ones—had a duty to protect the unique interests of their own people. Officials from Delaware, Georgia, or Rhode Island were not about to see their states amalgamated with New York and Virginia. Their people would have been swallowed up, their voices lost—drowned out by the ruthless arithmetic of pure democracy.

Today, it’s not just our federal government that uses states to improve representation. Labor unions and other national organizations are almost always organized by states and use a state-based process to elect national leadership. These systems are analogous to Congress and the Electoral College. The members from each state have a distinct voice by virtue of state-based, multi-step democratic processes.

The Democratic and Republican party nominating processes are designed by the parties themselves, which is why they are not identical. For example, Democrats have super delegates while Republicans do not. Their schedules and delegate allocations are often similar but never the same. Yet all this is based on our nation’s fundamental structure of states, often called federalism. After the parties nominate their candidates, they move on to a general election based on that same principle.

Americans are not simply united, we are united in our states. This structure helps keep government more local, which ensures that more voices are represented, both as candidates are nominated and then later when one of them is elected President of the United States of America.

This article first appeared at saveourstates.com.

Trent England is the founder and executive director of Save Our States.