It’s always been a contention of the original group working to launch the Federalist Party that the very concept of federalism has the potential to resonate across the whole political spectrum. Though it appeals naturally to conservatives, there’s an opportunity to demonstrate to liberals and moderates how federalism can benefit everyone when applied properly. The search for a unifying force in American government has always been available in the form of true federalism. We simply need to explain how it’s in everyone’s best interests.
Thankfully, we’re seeing the seeds of federalism bringing forth real changes. They’re small, but it’s encouraging nonetheless. The most recent example of federalism being applied in its proper form is the aptly named Drone Federalism Act of 2017. It’s hard to find a wider range of ideologies representing a single bill in the Senate. Senators Tom Cotton, Richard Blumenthal, Mike Lee, and Dianne Feinstein introduced the bill the last week of May, 2017.
Feinstein and Lee sponsored a bill together. Let that sink in.
The bill would give local governments the ability to determine the rules by which non-business users of drones could operate under 200 feet. It doesn’t sound like a hard-hitting piece of legislation, but hidden in the details is a roadmap that could be applied to a wide range of issues.
The Federalist philosophy of maintaining checks and balances between states and federal governments is on full display with this bill. Local, county, and state governments are empowered to place guidelines on drone usage as it applies to their specific needs while still allowing the FAA to lay down appropriate safety, security, and interstate commerce regulations when appropriate. This model can (and should) be applied to hundreds of other similar situations.
If it becomes law, this is a small victory for federalism that can translate into much bigger wins in the future.
One of the most important premises for building the Federalist Party was the knowledge that now is the right time to bring left-leaning people into a greater understanding of the benefits of our philosophy. This has been challenging for decades as big government protocols have been the modus operandi for the Democrats since FDR. Their desire to centralize power has been the driving force for their party. Following failures by the Obama administration and the current pickle they find themselves in with the Trump administration, there’s never been a better time to educate them on why federalism is a philosophy that benefits all. In essence, we have an opportunity to do more than pull from the Republicans and Libertarians. The rising popularity of federalism is embodied by this relatively insignificant bill.
It demonstrates that federalism can appeal to both sides of the aisle.
Most have believed that the only way to achieve bipartisan cooperation in DC was by heading towards the philosophical center. Federalism is a concept that exists outside of the standard linear ideological scale. Those on the far right (Senator Lee) and far left (Senator Feinstein) can both appreciate the benefits of federalism because it is the only philosophy that gives primacy to the individual regardless of which side is in power.
It’s a small but important step on the path to achieving the proper balance of power between DC and the states. When there’s balance, individual Americans are best protected from oppression by one or the other. That’s how the founders wanted it when they crafted the Constitution.