A Return to Federalism?

by Sal on February 19, 2009

in Politics

There are many constants in life, politics, and history.  Two of those constants are the law of unintended consequences and the fact that radical shifts in political direction often produce backlashes.  This leads to the possibility that the Federal Government’s overreaching in the Stimulus package and other liberal legislation could lead to a return to federalism.  Since the Obama inauguration, lawmakers in 20 states have introduced resolutions declaring state sovereignty under the 9th and 10th amendments to the Constitution.  With the constant mandates set forth by the federal government to the states, and the massive spending by the federal government on projects that the states do not necessarily need or want, state legislatures are starting to react.

Federalism and State sovereignty is a concept that has been largely lost over the past 10 years.  I remember it being a big argument and a part of the Conservative argument back in the 1990s, but it seems to have long given way to a centralized Washington.  We forget that our form of Government is a Republic of 50 separate states, with the Federal Government as its head.  True, the founders envisioned a strong central government to provide for the common defense, to deal with inter-state issues that could not be decided by the individual states, and to create one common nation, but it also envisioned much of the policy decisions to be locally-based.

The Obama administration (and, frankly, much of the domestic policy of the Bush Administration) may have provided the tipping point for the states to reassert themselves, which can only be a good thing.  The state governments are far more answerable to the people and are far easier to change as the result of elections.  True, states like my home state of Massachusetts are hopelessly liberal, but with plans to introduce a GPS tracking system in every automobile, mileage taxes, increased gas taxes, new tolls, and higher property taxes, an anti-liberal revolt could be possible in a few years (consider that MA has had a Republican Governor for 16 of the last 19 years;  only now does MA have complete Democrat control of the Government, and it is a disaster).

As part of our Conservative strategy going forward, we should not ignore the plight of the states.  We always assume that Conservative reform will happen at the federal level, and that is indeed an important place to look for reform.  However, if we can reform the individual states, and have the states push back on the Federal Government, that may provide another front to fight this difficult war against liberalism.  If that does happen, we’d have Barack Obama and the Democrats to thank, although I am sure that for them, it would be an unintended consequence.

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Federailsm Amendment By Threatening a Constitutional Convention | Axis of Right
April 23, 2009 at 7:38 am

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Mike February 19, 2009 at 9:06 am

“We always assume that Conservative reform will happen at the federal level . . .”

I strongly disagree with that statement. The only people on our side who make that assumption are elected Republican elites, and they aren’t exactly conservative. Otherwise, right on.

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