Federalism: The Missing Issue

The biggest problem in American government today is the hyper-nationalization of government.  Even in the middle of Republican presidential politics, even when every Republican candidate claims to be a "conservative," the myopic fixation on federal government resolution of every conceivable problem dominates everything, and the centralization of all power into our Potomac cesspool is largely ignored.

The problem, of course, is Washington.  America is brought down not by awful governance in New York City or Chicago.  America easily survives over-taxation in Massachusetts or over-regulation in California.  The beauty of American government has always been federalism, the retention of most governmental power in sovereign states and not in a national government.

When states govern badly, people flee and businesses leave.  Experiments in education or health care or commercial laws or other areas historically left to states can demonstrate success or failure without the totalitarian control of federal power or the power of printing money to fund reckless and wasteful spending.

Republican candidates ought to be making this the centerpiece of true revolutionary reform.  Sending power back to the states from which it has been unconstitutionally robbed by federal politicians is a reform that grants everyone who simply wants to be left alone, to live as he chooses, the power to make that wish come true.

The rise of "social conservatism" is simply the natural response of ordinary Americans to extinguishment of the right of states, rather than Washington, to address what issues government ought to address in our lives.  Before Roe v. Wade, there was no national right to life movement – not because Americans favored abortion, but because Americans accepted the right of each state to regulate abortion. 

When abortion is a federal judicial and not a state legislative issue, then five socially conservative Supreme Court justices tomorrow could hold that unborn children are "persons" within the meaning of the 14th Amendment and so no abortion could be allowed without a hearing, with a guardian ad litem appointed to represent the interests of the unborn child and a right to appeal any ruling adverse to the unborn child.

That would mean, of course, that no abortions would ever be allowed, because it is never in the best interests of a client to be killed, and any appeal could not be adequately litigated during the brief period of full-term pregnancy.  This result – the hyper-nationalization of abortion resulting in the granting of constitutional rights to unborn children – is dramatically more severe toward abortion than states' laws on abortion had been prior to Roe v. Wade, because nearly all states had exceptions for rape or incest or to protect the life of the mother. 

The strangulation of true federalism means all power, with all those lurking incentives to corruption and arrogance, rests in one tiny corner of America.  The real political division is not "Republican" and "Democrat" or even "conservative" and "leftist."  The real division is between a "Party of Washington" that includes not only Obama and Hillary, but also Boehner and McConnell on one hand and a disorganized but profoundly genuine "Party of America" on the other hand.

The first party embraces federal bureaucracies and regulatory agencies, federal courts and Washington lawyers, members of Congress and congressional staffers , and all those nefarious interlocking combinations of insider power, whether nestling in foundations, corporations, Beltway media, or federal employees and officers.  The "Party of Washington" is the party of unearned wealth, improper privilege, and unaccountable power.

There is no more important issue for those Republican candidates who promise change than the federalism the disgusted and appalled members of this informal "Party of America" pine to hear articulated.  The case against the "Party of Washington" has great political appeal.  The suburbs of Washington have the highest income in America, and all this money comes from buying and selling power.  Washington crushes all true diversity and true innovation, leaving us with only one answer to every issue.  Washington bureaucrats are the VA creeps who let veterans die or the EPA dolts who unleash pollution in our rivers and streams. 

We need the spark of another American Revolution – a peaceful, constitutional, and political revolution, but a revolution nonetheless.  It is wise to consider that the first American Revolution had more to do with the distant and arrogant rule of London than anything else.  In much of America today, it is more 1776 than 2015.  The peaceful, political revolution against Imperial Washington needs simply a great leader to win.