Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Republic, If We Can Keep It

Yes, national politics is more divisive because the federal government is far more powerful and intrusive in its reach. When the stakes are high, of course the politics are vicious! How can you expect anything else? And more regulations regulating speech will just squeeze the balloon and allow the money to appear elsewhere in the system (thus benefiting those with armies of lawyers to figure out where the money can go).

So, you know, duh (tip to Instapundit):

There has been a lot of handwringing in recent years about how divided Washington is, and how it’s difficult for the parties to come together on anything. But the reality is that the states are divided among themselves.

The architecture of the Constitution offers a natural solution to this problem. Instead of trying to solve every issue at the national level, power should be shifted back to the states. Those states whose residents are willing to pay higher taxes for more government services should be free to do so, as should states whose residents are willing to forgo government benefits in favor of lower taxes. Under such a system, instead of bitterly hashing out every issue in Washington, Congress could be focusing on a limited range of issues.

As I've written many times on this blog, the federal government is just too damn big. Reduce the stakes and you reduce the intensity of the battles and the incentive to push money to win control of or lobby the federal government.

Indeed, while I don't go on about it (as I do on other things), I have even mentioned that I think that making US Senators directly elected (thank you 17th Amendment) rather than selected by state legislators as was done originally has horribly altered our federal system to swing power to the federal government at the expense of states.

When I was in the service of the state legislature, I wrote many resolutions requesting the Michigan Congressional delegation to to something (or refrain from doing something). Sad to say, those requests I wrote were stored away in the files of the circular sort in those Congressional offices. Their primary value was in demonstrating that a state legislator cared about a subject that he or she could do nothing about because the feds were in charge. In many ways it was a perfect gig for them--just the image of action without responsibility. But that's how the system worked. Who can blame them? I didn't.

Had I been doing the same job prior to the 17th Amendment, I would have been writing resolutions instructing our Senators to do something (or refrain from doing something). And they would have listened.

Shrink the federal government and, within certain bounds where it is right to make a federal case out of it (I know, it is easier to say that than define that), let the states be laboratories of democracy again rather than enforcement arms of the federal government.

Do that and partisanship at the federal level will fall. Maybe we won't get blatantly political mis-use of governmental power in service of a national agenda (also tip to Instapundit).