Generally speaking, I tried to post ideas, which are fully conceived and developed a bit rather than whims and daydreams. However, I think this one is better posted without too much consideration. I had this idea the other day that we’re approaching many political problems and issues from a national, federal government perspective. One reason that I think some of our problems are so complex is that we’re taking our republican form of government and attempting to apply solutions across 300+ million people. I think we should begin to rethink our one-size fits all approach.
I know that state’s rights is a traditionally Republican issue and is often seen as the solution to a large, centralized federal government. However, I’m not making the argument that we all embrace the GOP’s state’s rights argument which is also often mistakenly applied as one-size fits all too – small. Rather, I’m suggesting that we rethink the way we embrace and develop solutions. The federal government often tries to take over all major policy ideas because it can throw the largest amount of money and (presumably) make the biggest impact.
The truth is that I think many people are Democrats locally and Republicans nationally. What I mean is that we understand the value of government infrastructure and services but we don’t want taxes and government control to go too far. We’d like to spend money on government services that actually work and don’t mind taxes when we see them working. But many people, even Democrats, are wary of a growing, spending federal government. The problems that the Obama administration is attempting to address are serious problems and traditionally the only way to get people to take them seriously is using the power of the White House. But the truth is that Americans often feel torn between the moral value in covering (and helping) millions of our neighbors without healthcare, for example, and the intellectual understanding of how much it costs and the fiscal danger we’re passing on to future generations.
What might work – and like I said before this is a very new theory for me – is to give more responsibility to the states to tax and spend for direct government services. This way, the states can better address local and regional issues and citizens can feel a more direct relationship to their tax dollars being spent. Also, a smaller federal government avoids waste and inefficiency (slightly better than they do now) and can oversee more of the process/regulation than the actual direct services. Our country is too diverse and many problems too complicated to try to solve them for everyone in one document or one piece of legislation.
This also applies for social issues. Obviously many progressives and libertarians would like to see the federal government compel the entire country to create, protect and enforce social freedoms. But the truth is, we’re diverse and there are culturally differences in our society. Though it’s not the best solution for social liberals, there would likely be greater cultural advances (in the end) if states could push the envelope and create mini-examples to the rest of country on issues like gay marriage, legalizing marijuana and other issues. We’ve seen this happening on the social side and I’m considering applying it to the public policy side of governing. This doesn’t require a one-size fits all approach but does allow states to compete against each other and a progressive state could become a national example on some issues but wouldn’t require national politicians to negotiate away a legislative solution based on an amendment about a social issue, like abortion or something.
We couldn’t allow states to violate the Constitution, obviously, and we’d want to protect rights of ALL American citizens equally. However, we’re taking the one-size fits all approach to national politics and complicating it even further because politicians have to protect themselves on social/controversial issues during a legislative debate about the budget, healthcare or even more unrelated topics.
Maybe we’re all a little more Republican and Democrat than we thought, just applying it differently to different problems.
My thought is the federal government sees the potential to take the biggest risk in order to achieve the biggest rewards, and I like that style. Yet, that approach is creating a greater divide between The Parties and fueling stalemate on issues that seriously need attention. It was just a thought on how to better free up the federal government, link Americans closer to their tax dollars and possibly get solutions into our communities faster and more appropriately.
NOTE: I’m having trouble distinguishing between republican – the governmental structure and Republican – the political party. There was some inconsistency online about when to use the capital “R”. So, instead of writing “Republic”an or republic-an, the way I have in other pieces on here; I’m going to use republican to denote the government organization and Republican to mean the political party. If I have this backward, please let me know.