Yesterday evening I attended the Lincoln Day dinner for the Weber County Republican party. It was a great way to get warmed up for the 2010 campaign. Rob Bishop attended and spoke as the keynote speaker for the event. He chose to speak about Federalism. This topic resonated with me since I recently finished reading the Federalist Papers.
The whole concept of Federalism hinges on the balance between state and federal powers. The Founders knew that a strong centralized government was necessary if America was to remain a tranquil Union. However, they also understood that government is best handled at the local level and wanted to empower states to the extent that they govern themselves while part of a greater Union. The Constitution provided the framework for that balancing act.
The recent resurrection in talk about Federalism seems to stem from the ambitious programs being debated and pushed in Washington DC. Such programs include Cap-and-Trade, the EPA Carbon Dioxide ruling, Government Health Care, ect. These are all huge programs that would affect every person in this country.
Rob Bishop made the point that the states are the laboratory of democracy. He contended that the national government should not be involved in these types of programs at all. Instead, the states should be able to experiment on their own and find the best programs through trial and error. He made the point that if one program in a state fails, the Union is spared the cost of the failure.
I encourage everyone to pick up a copy of the Federalist Papers and read it. If the Constitution is a recipe for good government, the Federalist Papers are the explanation of why the recipe works. I agree that there needs to be a balance of power between Washington DC and the state governments. Local government is better government and the people are better able to have their wishes fulfilled at the local level than by some distant and oblivious (though well meaning) bureaucracy. In simplest form, our national government should provide roads, national defense, currency, and international relations. Perhaps now is a good time to look at where we are, where we are headed, and get back to the basics.