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Tags: governors | states

Pandemic Mandates Federalism's Return


(Charles Brutlag/Dreamstime)

Craig Shirley By Sunday, 19 April 2020 06:20 AM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

For the first time this century, the national media has suddenly remembered that governors and the various states exist, but apparently, only those with whom they agree.

The mainstay argument from the rest of the national media has been, "We need a national solution to a national problem."


None have explained how amassing masks and ventilators and gloves at the national level is better than the 50 states acquiring their own inventories for more efficient and quicker dispersal to the citizenry.

Nor have they explained exactly what a national solution is.

So it appears to be nothing more than another club with which to beat Donald Trump.

Is it really practical or desirable to line up 340 million people, single file, to get tested for the coronavirus?

Or, is it just about the national party and the national media acquiring more power, in the nation’s capital? With centralization, we have one chance to get it right. With federalism, we have 50 chances to get it right.

Ohio and California have done well minimizing the threat. New York, not so good.

Michigan is a disaster.

And, Kentucky must have elected Pontius Pilate the way he went after Christians on Easter Sunday. But that is the point. Heaven help us if the anti-freedom governors of Michigan or Kentucky ever get close to national power.

Their mindless crackdown on personal freedom illustrates precisely why it is so dangerous to give power to liberals. This is explained why liberals in the past have smeared the notion of states’ rights as racist.

They know they lose any debate about the 10th Amendment.

What is most disheartening is that in the party of federalism — the Republican Party —there are so few who can really articulate the practicality, the intellectualism or the superiority of federalism. The Democrats have put their trust in Washington since the New Deal. They understand what they are about; the acquisition of power.

The GOP, on the other hand, appears so confused, they don’t know whether to scratch their watch or wind their behind.

In the days of Reagan, everybody in the GOP could explain federalism.

Now, the GOP has two approaches: attack, attack, attack, or ignorance.

This should be a glorious time to put federalism into practice and thus save lives.

In fact, federalism in theory and in practice is the best answer to getting America past this coronavirus crisis. Practically, one can argue that 50 solutions to a problem are better than one.

Yet for most of the past seventy years, the emphasis has always been on the primacy of centralized government despite the fact that no one likes or trusts the federal government.

A recent Rasmussen poll showed an astonishing number — 65% of Americans — believe the FBI routinely breaks the law and illegally spies on private citizens.

With good reason, Americans have not trusted Washington since the 1950’s.

More to the point, the very essence of our republic is based in opposition to granting too much power, to the national seat of power.

Even James Madison, the father of the U.S. Constitution, which replaced the state-centric Articles of Confederation said, "The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the state governments are numerous and indefinite."

Madison went even further, saying it was never the intention to let Washington determine all laws and all power.

The famous Draft Boards of World War II were the perfect expression of federalism at its working best. Millions of men were needed quickly for the fight against the Nazis and Japan. The War Department could not amass the 3 to 6 million young men needed immediately. Thousands of draft boards — at the local level, made of up responsible local citizens — reviewed the eligibility of young men whom they deemed "1-A."

And this all happened under the liberal, but also practical president, Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Modern sophisticates have believed for years that the federal government reigns supreme and the states are loyal subjects. But if this crisis has proven anything, it's that no central planning can mobilize and institute change more effectively than our sovereign states.

Each state knows their problems and limitations more acutely and each state is better equipped to deal with them, and deal with them expeditiously.

Not long ago, The New York Times ran an article showing the average travel distance of individuals has fallen below two miles from home since news of the virus.

The South was disproportionately traveling, while places like New York were at a standstill. Several smug elites, most notably The New York Times' Michael Barbaro, took the opportunity to publicly mock southern states, implying their actions were a result of "scientific illiteracy" or some other deficiency.

In reality, the majority of these trips were due to the fact that southerners in rural areas have to travel greater distances for essential supplies.

Frankly, decentralized states will have a far easier time mitigating the spread of the disease than centralized cities like New York where locals are packed into apartments like sardines.

Still, they have every right to their lifestyle as does the South.

The simple fact — there is no "one size fits all" solution.

What works for California may not work for the Carolinas. Ergo, a national solution is worse than ineffectual, it's silly, anti-intellectual.

The president, specifically his son-in-law, have struggled to articulate where exactly the federal responsibility ends and the state responsibility begins.

The truth is, the more we’ve come to rely on the federal government, the more we have marginalized our state governments.

The confusion we see today is a direct result of that. When the dust settles and the crisis has passed, there is going to be a serious conversation about what went wrong and how it can be fixed.

The smartest solution is a return to federalism.

The federal government was never intended to run all 50 states.

It was intended to represent them. Its role should be one of advisor and supporter. Instead of hoarding ventilators and protective equipment in some large federal reserve, it should mandate or recommend to the states how most effectively to keep their own strategic reserve.

It’s one thing for the government to say "every state should have one ventilator per however many people." It’s quite another for the government to hoard them all and only relinquish them when D.C. feels it appropriate. Does anybody really believe that one corrupt city by the Potomac River can solve any of our problems?

President Trump is stumbling toward the truth, but he is right. Let the states go first.

As the great Milton Friedman once said, "If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in five years there’d be a shortage of sand."

Craig Shirley is a Ronald Reagan biographer and presidential historian. His books include, “Reagan’s Revolution, The Untold Story of the Campaign That Started it All,” “Rendezvous with Destiny, Ronald Reagan and the Campaign that Changed America,” "Reagan Rising: The Decisive Years," and “ Last Act: The Final Years and Emerging Legacy of Ronald Reagan." He is also the author of the New York Times bestseller, “December, 1941” and his new 2019 book, “Mary Ball Washington,” a definitive biography of George Washington’s mother. Shirley lectures frequently at the Reagan Library and the Reagan Ranch. He has been named the First Reagan Scholar at Eureka College, Ronald Reagan’s alma mater and will teach a class this fall at the University of Virginia on Reagan. He appears regularly on Newsmax TV, Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

© 2022 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

As the great Milton Friedman once said, "If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in five years there’d be a shortage of sand."
governors, states
Sunday, 19 April 2020 06:20 AM
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