For far too long, those who want to shrink the federal government have been focused on the ineffectual arguments that individual programs are immoral, illegal, and/or unconstitutional. Despite decades of making these arguments, the scope of the federal government continues to increase as they fail to gain traction with the greater public. It is a much more effective argument to instead attack the efficacy (or lack thereof) of federal programs. It is a much easier argument to conclusively prove and appeals to our collective sense of local is better. It also does not proscribe state and/or local governments from considering such programs should their citizens so choose it.
I’m a big fan of local control for practical reasons. You often get elected officials that are much more responsive and in-tune with the needs of their constituents. Bad decisions are contained to a much smaller effective area and experimentation with good ideas leads to more of them. When elected leaders fail to make good decisions or respond to the needs of the people, the “throttle factor” is often much better with your city council member than a state or federal representative.
We’ve seen this play out on the federal level for decades now. Bad decisions made at that level affect everyone rather than just a limited subset of the populace. The all-or-nothing gamesmanship often leads to contradictory laws and policies that are confusing and keep either from actually prevailing. Our state legislature often rails upon these failings, but now they’re turning around and doing the exact same thing to the cities and counties.
I very much enjoyed David Rodeback’s series of If You Want My Vote posts outlining his basic requirements of those running for local office. There’s a lot of sage advice in there for candidate and voter alike. In that spirit, I’d like to list a few things I want to see from candidates at the federal, state, and local level. There’s been way too many politicos insisting that “government” is some nebulous blob that’s the same all over. It’s not. Here’s what I want from anyone running for a federal office.