Visions of an ideal America shouldn’t include hopes of being messed with by a less powerful schmuck than the president. But far too many seem fine with getting a hard time closer to home courtesy of someone who may have failed or never bothered to try getting to the next level. Federalism has somehow made it acceptable to subject people to onerous mandates depending on region.
Take a former senator and current non-senator who should but naturally doesn’t know better. Sleeveless sweater maven Rick Santorum’s lame claim that only states can mess with your contraception prescription is ridiculous for reasons aside from the ABC News-fueled nonsense about how Republicans want the government to limit access to birth control when they weren’t asking how candidates would use government to create jobs.
More importantly, Santorum’s answer is a cop-out: claiming that individual states can impede rights to comically absurd levels allows him to escape ridiculing the actual provision in question. He needs to condemn the specific policy and not laud the abstract right. As it stands, he’s assuming that, while the Imperial Empire is limited, Emperor Palpatine can install one of his minions as governor of any random state and send a Star Destroyer to hover over your disobedient city thanks to the galactic 10th Amendment.
Apparently, our concept of freedom doesn’t limit individual American cantons from making their citizens miserable. Take government-infused insurance backers who are seemingly out to make the “care” part of “health care” ironic.
Mitt Romney has spent his political career arguing passionately for limited government when he wasn’t forcing people to purchase insurance. Oh, plus he has the stimulus, bailouts, and TARP, just in case you haven’t filled out your scorecard yet.
Mittcare is merely a plateful of what we’ll be served at the impossibly meager Obamacare buffet. It may be legal for the prototypical Northeastern liberal enclave to ape Canada’s vision of giving everyone the same lame insurance. It’s also legal for conservatives to condemn the actual law even if Massachusetts was within their rights to install the scheme.
Maybe Romney’s pirouetting defenders can explain why it’s okay to mandate a purchase as a penalty for existing if you happen to experience the misery of living in Massachusetts. It’s apparently okay to force purchases as long as the next-highest government doesn’t try the same thing. While they’re at it, they can claim that the man who makes Gerald Ford look like a rabid right-winger will somehow resist the urge to be a bossy executive if he gets promoted from ex-governor on his second try.
Even Republican presidential candidates who double as representatives can act differently when their home turf is involved. To wit, Ron Paul shows he really doesn’t like Israel by indulging in pork. An out-of-control federal behemoth that sucks up our economic and personal liberty is diabolical unless it’s being sent to one’s particular congressional district.
As for the non-anti-Semitic Texan running for president, new class warfare warrior Rick Perry developed an unfortunate habit of forgetting that he’s supposed to let his charges give their own money to businesses. The scourge of economic cronyism should be atypical in Texas, and yet he’s made the market a little less free by using public funds to attract companies to a state with which one is not supposed to mess.
Perry apparently forgot how much state money he doled to businesses while he was criticizing Romney for firing anyone. George W. Bush’s successor in Austin may not follow him to Washington thanks to how he’s cut his talk of liberty with envious populism. It takes a strange cowboy to criticize the rough-and-tumble process of capitalism.
A slice of misguided federalism fans have concluded that it’s somehow fine if it’s only a state that’s rogering you out of your freedoms and paychecks. But the legal right doesn’t make it right. Limited government is universally appealing; the concept doesn’t change depending on how thick the area in question prefers its pizza crust.
Our forefathers didn’t make George III their bitch so that Andrew Cuomo could tell us what marriage is or Jerry Brown could squander your inheritance on his union pals. Reducing federal power doesn’t mean we need to increase state control for balance, even if some conservatives seem to feel better if they can reach the capital that’s pulling their strings on a single tank of gas. It’s nice to be able to move to a competing state, but that means both joining a new health club and learning a new ZIP code.
It helps nobody when Republican politicians who hope for a promotion act as if excessive regulations are fine on the secondary or territorial level. It’s yet one more reason to be disappointed by the GOP field, just in case the several thousand other deflating points weren’t enough.
The best scenario is that a potential GOP nominee who was proficient at spending in, say, Congress or Boston is too incompetent to enact massive cash immolation plans from the White House. Turning to drink may be the only means to cope with the lack of a thorough free market fan in the race.
That option is fine unless your state runs liquor stores, won’t let them open on certain days, or has punitive vice levies. Granting autonomy to state governments seems like a fine idea until one considers many of the state governments in question.
Anthony Bialy is a writer and “Red Eye” conservative in New York City. He tweets at http://twitter.com/AnthonyBialy.