Why Federalism works: Acknowledging the primacy of individuals

Every form of government has an unavoidable and inherent flaw: they’re driven by people who can be corrupted. No man is incorruptible and therefore no form of government run by men can be free of their inherent corruptibility. That’s not to say that every individual within government is corrupt, but at any scale larger than a local community, it is for all intents and purposes impossible to prevent corruption from seeping into the halls of government 100%.

Winston Churchill once said something to the effect of “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.” For this exercise, we’ll assume that the constitutional republic through which America draws its government falls into the category that Churchill described. If we’ve learned anything about this form of government since FDR was President, it’s that the ability to corrupt the system itself through politicians doing what they thought was best is our Constitution’s only real weakness. As impeccably written and amended as it is, there is still room for the clear words within the document to be misinterpreted and/or skewed. The result has been the expansion of national government power across the board.

When we first set forth to build this party, we did so based upon two premises:

  1. There is an unquestionable need to rein in power in DC and give much of it back to where it was originally intended: state (and local) governments and in the hands of individual Americans.
  2. No party is willing (Republican, Democrat, and other big-government parties) or able (Libertarian, Constitution, and other small-government parties) to return the power that DC has accumulated over the decades.

To build this party, it’s imperative that we bring an understanding back to the American people that government is not the solution. For many years, there has been a steady indoctrination of millions of Americans. This indoctrination has had one effect: convincing Americans that they need government to intervene. It’s happening in schools, through the media, and by the words and actions of our representatives in DC. Whether or not it’s coordinated is up for debate, but the results have been very clear. Fewer people are asking what they can do to improve their own situations. More people are demanding that government and other institutions do the improving for them.

This dependent mentality is not only futile but is also completely un-American. Those of us old enough to remember how things were can clearly recall how schools once operated. When a child did poorly, questions were asked of the student and parents. Today, kids aren’t allowed to do poorly. Teachers are held to some account, but for the most part if the student is not doing well it’s the system that needs to change, not the student or the parents.

We’ve also seen it clearly manifested in how we handle winning and losing. In a world where everybody gets a medal, we’re trading in the things that once drove us such as pride and self-respect and replacing them with consolation. Feelings seem to be more important than facts in many of today’s activities.

Perhaps the most pressing area where we’ve seen this shift is with health care. As unpopular as it is to say in today’s political atmosphere, health care is not a right. Emergency care can be backed by the government (preferably the state and not the federal government), but we are hurting ourselves by allowing the government to dictate to both the market and consumers how the health care industry is going to operate.

What many people seem to not realize is that keeping government out of health care will make it better, cheaper, and easier to obtain. This is not the right article to expand on this truth, but I’ll assume that if you’re reading this article you’re probably already aware of it. We’ll cover this more in detail in the future. For now, let’s stipulate that allowing the free market system to be driven by consumers would yield more competition, lower overall costs for the vast majority of Americans, and allow room for innovation that drives providers to do better.

With all that understood, we can address the original question about Federalism. Why does it work? There are in-depth philosophical explanations that we can (and probably should) explore in the future. There are also very compelling political science discussions that usually lead scholars to the same conclusion regardless of their personal affiliations, that federalism to one degree or another must be implemented soon before the gargantuan of the DC political system becomes too convoluted to unravel back to its natural state within the realm of its enumerated powers.

To understand Federalism as it applies to modern America, all we have to do is realize one core tenet: the individual reigns when Federalism is fully realized. The national and state governments must share power and the pool of power from which they draw must be very limited. It’s the individual American who is not only empowered but also ultimately responsible to drive his or her own life. When we can achieve this, the original intent of the founders, we’ll be able to push America itself to its greatest heights.

Our success as a party is dependent on educating people about their rights and responsibilities. This can seem like a daunting task; we’ve grown cynical in our beliefs that everybody’s looking for a free meal. We can and will change this through a paradigm shift. It must be rapid and dramatic, but it can work. First and foremost, we must make the people realize their worth. When we open the door with that premise, we can open minds to the possibilities.