Thursday, February 04, 2016

Making a Federal Issue Out of Everything

An expression from my youth isn't used anymore because it no longer makes sense: "Don't make a federal issue out of this!"

That is, don't make it such a big deal. Move on, why don't you?

America is more polarized:

In sum, explains former Harvard president Larry Summers, “there is a kind of creeping totalitarianism on college campuses.” Barack Obama, a product of the PC university, is the most polarizing president since Richard Nixon. Obama has reinforced the “which side are you on?” hyper-partisanship of the campuses, which is spreading beyond the campus. Ordinary working Americans are bullied by bureaucrats, who were, as Glen Reynolds, puts it, “credentialized” in college without being educated. These preening bureaucrats are the ideal instruments of government overreach. They impose their ideological agenda in the name of racial, gender, and environmental equity, not to mention obscure IRS rules. And working Americans are forced to pay for a now-vast population of unemployed but subsidized Americans of working age, even as new immigrants—legal and illegal—undercut their wages. Meanwhile, college graduates educated in “victim studies” weaponize what they’ve learned and go to work in the aggrievement industry. The rhetoric of multiculturalism, feared Schlesinger, placed the American republic “in serious trouble.”

And while the degeneration of our colleges into left-wing finishing schools rather than places of education play a role, the vast expansion of the federal government's reach in what is considered a national issue rather than a state or local issue has complemented this trend in society.

Which is certainly one fundamental reason that polarization has grown during President Obama's tenure despite his promise to unite all Americans. By championing a more powerful federal government, more polarization had to take place absent a general surrender of the opposition to President Obama's vision of a more activist Washington, D.C.

With people more interested in their own victimhood coupled with a federal government more powerful, the stakes for control of the federal government are much higher. So of course national politics are more bitter!

When a distant national capital's decisions are decisive in your daily life, of course you will fight harder to make it more to your liking.

We need to reduce the power of the federal government by restricting its scope in favor of state and local governments in order to reduce the stakes for controlling the federal government.

Really, if California wants to be a left-wing caricature, let them! Why should it bother me? But if California wants to do it to me? Of course I care. Very much.

Heck, if California makes that work, I'd like to think I could learn from what they do even if I never thought it would work. People will flock there to live. Experts will copy what works and move it around.

And if it doesn't work? Then people will move elsewhere. And California can send experts to other states to see what worked there. Truly, the states can return to being a laboratories for our democracy rather than the subsidiary carrying out the orders of the single federal government that either gets it right or wrong for every state and territory.

And the first thing I'd do to reduce the scope of federal power to more managable levels is make United States Senators appointed by the state legislators rather than directly elected as they are now, so they will once again be defenders of their states rather than just more powerful members of the national government.

And then the appeal "don't make a federal issue out of this" will make sense again. And polarization won't matter nearly as much.