All the pundits are blasting Obama for his comments this week declaring similarities between the momentum that brought him the Presidency and the momentum that brought Scott Brown to the Senate.
Obama said: “Here’s my assessment of not just the vote in Massachusetts but the mood around the country: The same thing that swept Scott Brown into office swept me into office, people are angry and they are frustrated. Not just because of what’s happened in the last year or two years but what’s happened over the last eight years.”
Well, for once, I agree with the President. He may not know it, but for now he’s on to something. The similarities are significant, but not for the reasons Obama would have you believe. Obama is implicitly declaring that the “thing” that swept them into office was a massive mandate to centralize power at the federal level, or in Brown’s case public dissatisfaction with the rate at with Obama was able to centralize power. This could not be further from the truth. In fact, the “thing” that swept both into office was absolute disgust with Washington DC.
The centralization of power is the problem.
Both elections prove it. Obama won the election because he was “not Bush”. Brown won the election because he was “not Obama”. Both won the election because they were not “Washington DC”. Well, now they are both Washington DC, so who will the people send next to solve the problems sure to be endorsed by these champions. In other words, the game continues until “we the people” tell Washington to take a hike, we can solve our problems locally.
This battle is not about Republicans versus Democrats. It’s not even about left ideology versus right ideology. The battle is much more serious. It is about “we the people” versus an out of control federal government. Or more to the point, decentralized power versus centralized power.
The problem is that “we the people” do not recognize that this is the problem. “We the people” are still divided, fighting the same old partisan battles, and to the federal government’s pleasure, centralizing more and more power in their hands.
The left and right are both centralizing power.
For starters, the right has spent a year now “angry and frustrated” as Obama puts it. Tea Parties have marched on the Alamo, marched on Washington DC, conquered town hall meetings, written letters to US Representatives, and spent countless hours talking to answering machines a thousand miles away. All with the purpose of affecting opinions in Washington DC. And for a year now, they have been ignored and often ridiculed by their “rulers”. And what is their strategy now? To centralize more right-leaning power in Washington DC in the 2010 elections.
The result of the right’s effort is more power in DC.
The left is angry and frustrated too. This week Arianna Huffington from the Huffington Post wrote:
“What we need is Hope 2.0: the realization that our system is too broken to be fixed by politicians, however well intentioned — that change is going to have to come from outside Washington.“
It is encouraging that the left is beginning to realize that answers don’t come from Washington DC. However, the rest of the article goes on to describe a strategy to march on Washington DC and demand attention to their concerns. The purpose is to embolden the current left-leaning politicians to centralize power in Washington DC.
The result of the left’s effort is more power in DC.
Centralization – The “one size fits all ” solution.
So, since the left and the right think that all the power needs to come from DC, it’s time to ask:
Which “one size fits all” solution to Heath Care, Environment Policy, Drug Policy, Marriage Definition, Education Curriculum, Firearm Regulation, should be enforced as a blanket solution for the entire United States?
I’m sure you have your answer. I’m also sure that about 50% of the population disagrees with your answer.
Texas doesn’t want a Massachusetts solution. Texas can solve its own problems. Likewise, I’m sure the people of California don’t want a Texas solution to their problems. This attempt to solve all problems at the federal level is the fundamental source of the “anger and frustration” that Obama is talking about. It is the friction that causes the nasty bipartisanship in Washington DC that people complain about. Most importantly, if we do not open up the pressure valve and allow individuals and local governments to decide what is best for them, then it will be the fundamental source of the destruction of our country.
Decentralization – The 10th Amendment Solution.
The answer to our country’s current problems is written in the Bill of Rights. The federal government was never intended to create uniform policy for any of these issues. At least, not without a constitutional amendment. The 10th amendment states:
“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.”
This is simple and brilliant. Given the wide diversity of desired solutions across the United States, these problems can only be solved by decentralization of power, not centralization in Washington. Respecting the limitations of the Constitution and understanding the 10th amendment are the answers to this country’s problems.
Massachusetts might want a public health care program. Great, implement a state level solution to the problem. If it works, it’s sure to be copied by other states. If it fails, then Massachusetts must go back to the drawing board. Texas, on the 0ther hand, might want to limit medical malpractice awards and cut costs as a solution. Great, if that doesn’t work we are free to copy another state’s successful program. If individuals in a state don’t like the current law because it limits their freedom or services, they are free to vote with their feet and seek a state with a solution that fits them. There are pressure release valves naturally built into a decentralized solution.
Solve problems locally.
Bring it home.
Brian Roberts is a long-time volunteer with the Texas TAC and a regular contributor to the Tenth Amendment Center website.
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