Terrified Liberals Rediscover Federalism

capital-building (6)from – CFIF.org – by Timothy H. Lee

It’s been a traumatic week for liberals (although conservatives face their own struggle to stifle laughter and schadenfreude at liberals’ expense).

Among other tragic vignettes from the past week, The New York Times reported that, “Mrs. Clinton’s campaign was so confident in her victory that her aides popped open champagne on the campaign plane early Tuesday.”

Our sympathies to the poor staffer tasked with cleaning up that mess.

Elsewhere across America, inconsolable college students retreated to “safe spaces” to work it all out through hug-ins.  Millennials rioted in deep-blue cities like Portland and Los Angeles while demanding an end to an electoral college that they probably assume is located somewhere in Flyover Country and plays in the Big XII or some other red state athletic conference.  “Saturday Night Live” opened with Kate McKinnon fighting back tears in her Hillary Clinton persona – symbolic white pantsuit and all – with the words, “I’m not giving up, and neither should you.”  Barack Obama himself had to welcome a successor whom he mocked only days earlier on Jimmy Kimmel Live with the words, “At least I will go down as a president.”

Meanwhile, social media was saturated with posts advocating Brexit-style state secession under such names as “Calexit.”

But things aren’t all bad.  There are some silver linings among the liberal clouds.

They’re suddenly realizing that some of the political tactics they cheered throughout the Obama Administration, such as lawless presidential overreach in the form of executive orders, might not have been so wise after all.  What Obama did with his pen and phone, Trump can just as easily un-do with his own pen and phone.

Liberals are also realizing that principles conservatives advocated throughout the Obama Administration might not be such bad ideas after all.

Going back to their “Calexit” secession idea, for instance, take federalism.

Among our Founding Fathers’ preeminent concerns was the inevitable political division flowing from the stark diversity among the citizens of different states and regions, even with just thirteen states within a narrow longitude at the time.  Citizens of 1780s Boston lived very different lives than those in rural Georgia, while merchants of New York City maintained different lifestyles and priorities than farmers of agrarian Virginia.

Accordingly, they devised a federalist system that survives over two centuries later.

On the one hand, some rights remain so inviolable and universal that the Founding Fathers explicitly enshrined them in the Bill of Rights and the text of the Constitution itself.  Protection against ex post factoprosecution, the First Amendment freedoms of speech, religion and assembly and the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms were considered so central to our concept of ordered liberty that they became national rights.  The powers to wage war or enter into treaties with other nations were so obviously within the power of the national government that the Constitution secured them for the central government.

Outside of those select, fundamental rights and powers, however, the Founders knew that America would function most fairly and most effectively if citizens of different states were left otherwise free to govern themselves.  They deliberately inserted the Tenth Amendment, which reads, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

That federalist balance is one reason the United States became the most prosperous, powerful and innovative nation in human history.  Individual states became “laboratories of democracy” in which different ideas in governance and lifestyle could be tested against human nature and everyday reality.

Over two centuries on, despite nationwide and worldwide homogenization through technology and culture, citizens in different states maintain very different moral, intellectual, religious and cultural outlooks.  Unfortunately, too often we’ve seen federal officials attempt to impose their one-size-fits-all policies upon the nation when allowing states to test and innovate would have been preferable.

If citizens of Massachusetts, as just one example, prefer ObamaCare or single-payer healthcare, then they should be free to try it without forcing citizens of Utah or Texas to endure a dysfunctional system that they oppose.

Today, with the election of Donald Trump as President, citizens in more liberal states are suddenly awakening to the possibility that after eight years of a President Obama whose policies they happened to favor, four or eight years of a President Trump will bring policies they find intolerable.

That’s where a newfound appreciation of federalist principles comes in.  Hysterical liberals needn’t riot, secede or malign the Electoral College.

By simply acceding to a more proper degree of federalism, and restoring greater powers of governance and free choice to diverse citizens of very different states, they may discover that we really can all get along after all.

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Robert Jeffries
6 years ago

We need to realize that with all these rules and regulations in place people cannot start a new business. With out new business there is no growth.
We need a new way to count the unemployed. The ones that have been unemployed for so long that they have dropped off the unemployment list are no longer counted. if you count them the unemployment rate is about 15% or larger.

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