Wednesday, December 01, 2004
Federalism As the Solution For Blue State-Red State Mess
That's right. All of a sudden, liberals have discovered federalism and states' rights. I discovered this while listening to a recent episode of NPR's "Talk of the Nation," in which host Neal Conan and various callers discussed the idea as if some lab had just invented it. In that respect, it was a pretty depressing conversation. A listener called in and explained that, as a liberal, she doesn't feel "welcome" in America any more. For her, this whole wacky "states' rights" thing was her last hope before moving to Canada.
The problem with the last half-century of public policy is that liberals have abused the moral stature of the civil rights struggle to use the federal government to impose their worldview - not just on racial issues but on any old issue they pleased. But now, all of a sudden, because they can't have their way at the federal level anymore, the incandescently brilliant logic of federalism has become apparent: Liberals in blue states can live . like liberals! Wahoo! (Whereas, according to liberals, conservatives could never have been sincere when they talked about states' rights; surely, they meant only to "restore Jim Crow" or some such.)
The bad news, alas, is that conservative support for federalism has waned at exactly the moment they could have enshrined the ideal in policy. Just this week, the Bush administration argued against California's medical marijuana law. Bush is also moving ahead toward a constitutional prohibition on gay marriage. After decades of arguments that Washington should stay out of education, Bush has made it his signature domestic issue.