by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Jonah Goldberg‘s latest column at National Review Online contends that American politics would benefit from removing as much power as possible from Washington, D.C.
Donald Trump almost never uses the language of traditional American conservatism, with its emphasis on classically liberal notions of limited government, constitutionalism, individualism, and free trade. He prefers to talk about “strength” and “winning” while vowing to restore the “greatness” of yesteryear through his indomitable will.
Meanwhile, the Democratic party is embracing socialism. Hillary Clinton doesn’t call herself a socialist the way her tormentor-competitor Bernie Sanders does, but Sanders has not only pulled her to the left, he’s revealed the heart’s desire of the activist base of the party. Still, even without Sanders’ influence, Clinton’s worldview was always that of top-down technocracy.
Indeed, this is what unites Clintonism, Sandersism, and Trumpism: the idea that the government in Washington is too weak. Get the right person in the White House and they’ll fix all our problems by bringing the malefactors to heel. They also all believe, as Trump says about health care, that the federal government has to “take care of everybody.” …
… The institutions that work best in 21st-century America are those that give us choices. No one simply lives in the United States of America. We live in Peoria, Harlem, and Seattle. The virtues built close to home, [Yuval] Levin argues, are those that make us good citizens and ultimately draw us together.
What would be so terrible about letting diverse communities decide how they want to live and spend their tax dollars? The culture wars would still rage, but at least the winners would have to look the losers in the eye. As it stands now, the federal government, mostly through unelected judges and bureaucrats, thinks it can best determine how more than 300 million people should live.
The cure for powerlessness is power, not ceding even more of it to Washington. This is the only way to cut the Gordian knot choking our politics, and the best path forward for opponents of statism — in all parties.