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Obama brought us Obamacare, the Stimulus, and doubled the debt to $20 trillion. George W. Bush brought us the Wall Street bailout and interminable middle-eastern wars. Congress, alternately run by Democrats and Republicans over the past 16 years, approved all of these messes. And seeing how everyone in DC — politicians, press, lobbyists, and probably Uber drivers — have spent the past five months in an endless slap fight, we shouldn’t expect the Beltway to produce much of consequence for the foreseeable future.
How do we enact conservative change in this environment? The best option is to build a doorless wall around DC; Washingtonians of every stripe can give each other swirlies while the rest of America gets about fixing the nation. But since that effort might be frowned upon, let’s just ignore the lot of them the best we can and focus closer to home.
The United States wasn’t designed to be run by some far-off mandarins in an imperial capital. Most day-to-day responsibilities were handed to each state, and most state responsibilities were handed to counties, cities and towns.
When people talk of checks and balances, they usually think of the White House, Congress and courts holding each other responsible. But the Founders also created a check and balance between Washington and the states. It’s on the state and local level where citizens make the largest impact.
The next few years will be a roller coaster. If a state wants to survive — let alone thrive — its leaders need to make the big decisions themselves. Each state needs to create its own success.
As I note in the article above, those of us lucky to live in places like Texas and Arizona have watched our leaders spend the last decade or two disentangling themselves from the big swamp. Instead of waiting for one-size-fits-all federal reforms, forward-thinking states are fixing unemployment, education, taxes, and cutting through mountains of red tape with a chainsaw.
If progressives don’t like the choices being made in their state, it’s much easier for them to replace local leaders with some who parrot their worldview. (Good luck with that, liberals.) No offense to our friends in New York and California, but I’m fine with their pols pushing womb-to-tomb governmental paternalism — if businesses and residents don’t like it, they can vote with their feet as tens of millions have already.
Of course, Americans could just cross their fingers and hope that Washington decides to get its collective act together in the next few weeks. But the far more realistic option is to accept that the cavalry isn’t coming. Let’s fix all that we can right now in our towns, counties, and statehouses. To paraphrase Gov. Rick Perry, let’s make Washington as inconsequential in our lives as possible.