Fat Steve's Blatherings

Friday, March 25, 2005

A Failure to Locate the Problem

      James Pinkerton has a column in Newsday about the Schiavo bill that nicely illustrates another missed political point in this tragedy. (Hat Tip: Professor Bainbridge)

      Pinkerton writes:
... the Republicans have their victory, but now they must live with consequences of having made a state case into a federal case. Having intervened in this state issue in 2005, future Republicans will have a hard time urging federal restraint in the name of decentralization. Which is to say, whenever the Democrats retake power and resume their own ambitious national agenda, they will happily trample on "states' rights," citing the Schiavo legislation as their precedent. But maybe by then Republicans won't care as much, because the traditional conservative belief system, which grounded its politics in the original intent of the Founding Fathers, has been superseded - the Constitutional Right now being the Religious Right. . .

Americans are now learning that the social-issue core of the newly energized, Southernized and Christianized Republican Party cares a lot more about its faith and its values than about the old verity of small government.

      Let's leave aside the odious history of the phrase "state's rights," which was so frequently an excuse for racism and unconstitutionality.  Let's not dwell either on the fact that the Founders believed in a society where one sex couldn't vote, and one race could be enslaved.  Instead, look to the future.  Does anyone really think that the Democrats will someday be in power, have a measure they wish to pass, not be able to pass it, and then, suddenly, get it accepted by brandishing the Schiavo bill as a precedent?  If so, I suggest you keep the cops from finding out just what it is you're smoking.

      The "old verity" of small government has been gone for seventy years, at least.  The voters elected politicians who believed in big govt.  And there is no sign that the voters minds have been changed on this issue.  There is no popular support for repealing the New Deal.

      In the real world, the limits on big government will be our ability to pay, and our sense of what's appropriate for the government to be involved in at all.  All indications are that "state's rights" is dead, and "small government" is in critical condition.  I don't necessarily like that, but that's the way it is.  Terri Schiavo's case has nothing to do with it.



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