Source: This piece was originally posted at The New Democrat
One of the things that makes America os unique and I at least would argue better in so many ways is how our diverse and large we are. And because of that we don’t have a top-down authoritarian centralized approach to government. We couldn’t and still be a liberal democracy because we’re so big. A unitarian government simply wouldn’t work here, because you would see states like Florida, Texas, California, Alaska, Hawaii and others move away from America and create their own countries. Because you have one government in Washington that’s thousands of miles away from most of the country telling other states and localities how to educate their kids, how to police their streets, manage their safety nets, etc. Even though the Feds don’t know the people they’re ordering around and don’t know their communities.
I’m both a Liberal and a Federalist which would almost sound like an Oxymoron to people who aren’t familiar with liberalism and see it as some socialistic big government ideology. But Liberals created our federalist system and our Constitution. I’m a Liberal-Federalist which means I believe the states and localities have the right to manage their own domestic affairs just as long as they’re within in the Constitution. So if they decided to segregate their schools by race with the good schools left for one race of people, with everyone else going to the failing schools, that would obviously be unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause. But if they decided to have both public schools and subsidize private schools for low-income students, that would be their right. Since that’s certainly constitutional.
Federalism, is not anti-government. You still need a military, you still need Federal law enforcement to deal with interstate crime and regulatory state to regulate interstate commerce, a national currency, foreign policy, national security state, etc. The Federal Government obviously has to collect revenue to pay for their limited, but important functions. But you don’t need a Federal Welfare program, you don’t need a Federal health insurance program even for the poor and seniors. You don’t need Federal Unemployment Insurance. You don’t need a Federal Department of Education. You don’t need Federal Public Housing and Retirement Insurance. We need programs like this, but they should be run by the states with a Federal basic standards to ensure that these programs actually serve the people who are eligible for them. But with the state having the resources and authority to run them.
Not talking about anti-government or creating some voluntarist society. But limiting the Federal Government simply to exactly what we need it to do with the resources to perform those missions. And having the states and localities simply run their own affairs. Leaving the Feds to do only what we need it to do including seeing that these programs are run as they were designed, but no longer responsible for running them. In Washington this would be called a block grant system. Turn these vital and important safety net programs, including job training over to the states. With the states responsible for running them properly and then lets see what works where and why and what doesn’t work. And allow for our states to be laboratories for liberal democracy. With an effective limited government to do only what we need it do and do it very well.
Crash Course: Federalism- Government and Politics
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