Restore the Founders' Federalism

The values of any good government rest, largely, in the reciprocity of rights that all factions share.  Freedom of speech and freedom of the press in America, for example, are strongly bolstered by the fact that what protects leftists also protects conservatives and vice versa. 

While it is true that the left tries to exercise censorship in schools and colleges, bastions of mindless totalitarianism, nevertheless, conservatives in America generally can attack leftism with more elbow room than almost anywhere else in the world.  Even those conservatives who deny that this freedom exists prove by their loud complaints that this is not true.  People who shout, "I live in a fascist dictatorship" clearly do not live in a fascist dictatorship.

Federalism as intended by the Constitution is another example of that reciprocity.  Citizens of the several states and their state governments long recognized the differences in philosophy and the exercise of those differences among the different states.

Even conservatives often miss this point.  The Second Amendment, for example, was no more intended to apply to the states than was the First Amendment.  The preservation of the right to bear arms was not a constitutional protection until the Supreme Court wrongly and dreadfully "incorporated" through the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment the whole Bill of Rights.

So does that mean that prior to a meddling and bullying Supreme Court, states did not protect the right to bear arms or freedom of speech or the other rights in the Bill of Rights?  Absolutely not:  Each state constitution had protections for those rights we deem essential to a free society.  These varied according to the differences of opinion and values of the citizens of those states.  Two examples help show how this worked. 

Prior to the odious Roe v. Wade decision, each of the fifty states had different laws governing abortion.  The leftist myth is that Roe v. Wade created the right to abortion, but this is a lie:  virtually every state allowed abortion under some circumstances.  New York had very easy abortion laws, and Texas had very restrictive laws regarding abortion, but Texans did not try to make New Yorkers accept their more socially conservative values.

Separation of church and state is emphatically not guaranteed in the United States Constitution.  "Congress shall make no law..." does not mean "states shall make no law."  In fact, about half of the first states under our constitutional system and after the Bill of Rights was ratified had established state religions.   

Different religions flourished under this system.  In the very rare instances of  intolerance toward a particular religion, like toward Mormons, it was not the state that caused the intolerance, and it was migration to lands that would become predominately Mormon that provided true protection.

Federalism is also a way of allowing the marketplace of governments to refine and to improve government generally.  People flee from states that are corruptly or oppressively or incompetently run, and those people who do not flee are left with the state government they want and deserve.  No one, however, can flee the federal leviathan and its "one size fits all" sort of rule.  This monster largely destroys the power of the marketplace of governments. 

Washington is hopelessly remote to most Americans, and its values are completely at odds with these Americans.  Now, while government is divided, with the presidency and the Senate in Republican hands, and when the Supreme Court may be on the verge of becoming truly conservative, there is an opening for conservatives to challenge Democrats to enact laws that truly restore federalism.  Democrats run almost nothing in Washington now, while they do run many large state governments.

Go into these states and call upon Democrat governors and state legislatures to ask their senators and representatives to reclaim federal power back to their states and to do the same for all states of the nation as well.  Consider the problems this creates for Democrat governors, who would be forced to say, "Washington knows much better how to run our state than we Minnesotans do" or "Oregon values are better protected in the District of Columbia than in Oregon." 

Organizations like the National Governors Association and the National Conference of State Legislatures could be called to adopt a broadly based and bipartisan resolution to restore federalism and to return to states control over many activities that have been stolen by Washington. 

The political war on "Capitolism," a crusade against highly centralized federal power, is a winning issue and a noble cause as well.  Conservatives can, and ought to, put that issue at the top of their agenda.