I spent the day yesterday on a field trip I have been on before. The fifth graders at the local elementary school were going into Philly to do the “Independence Hall” thing. I’d done this before, but they really hadn’t- what would it be like to show these kids a thing or two about our earl history?

In Constitution Hall, we spoke to the Ranger about the Articles of Confederation and how they led to the Constitution.

You never hear about the Articles of Confederation. After the Revolutionary war, the colonies had an agreement called the Articles of Confederation that held them loosely together, not unlike the European Union, but with even less agreement- each state still printed its own money, for example. (I cannot even imagine having to change currency at the border between Delaware and Pennsylvania or New Jersey, especially when you can be in all three of those States within the same morning, where I live.)

This sense of each state having its own rules and regulations is the reason why to this day, we may have a federal Government and federal laws, but the laws within each State vary. While the Constitution created a slightly more powerful Federal Government, you see the State’s rights argument being played out to this day, when Republicans argue that the federal Government is too big, and has too many rules and regulations.

Yet, if we are to be a unified Country, we need unified rules beyond just a common money supply. We need to make sure people can travel freely from State to State and be assured the basic rules of conduct are legal in each State. We have this thanks to the Constitution. It holds us together despite the fact that the values in New York and San Francisco might not be the same as those in Indianapolis or Des Moines.

Which is why the whole notion that there is an Alaska First party strikes me as a more complicated issue than just a few people thinking Alaska might be better off as its own Country.

Sarah Palin is the Governor of a State that has people who seriously believe that they should have autonomy from the federal government to the point of seceding from the Union. She is “applying” for the job of Vice President of the US, which would mean taking an oath of office to defend the Constitution and the sacredness of our Union.

Now I know States including Alaska may feel they are better run or wealthier than others, and maybe it would be great to try to make a go of it alone, from time to time. But the Union is like a marriage- you are in it for better and for worse. Sometimes, you may be the party supporting others, and sometimes, you may be the one getting support. You are taxed with representation, and your representatives try to make sure the pie is divided as fairly as possible between the States, each according to its need.

Candidates call the US “America” on the stump, but they should not be afraid of calling us the United States. “United” should remind us all that this election or any other one, for that matter, is not so much about each of us as individuals, or individual towns, counties, towns, regions or your individual State- it is about what’s best for all of us as a whole.

I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that the only major problem we face as a nation is that we are focusing far too much on what is best for us individually and less on what is important for us as a whole. And I think once we change that notion, we will start to see the cultural shift we all want to see in Washington and beyond.