Small is Beautiful

The polling did not just show the lack of faith in national institutions and leadership; it also shows that people increasingly feel that the best solutions for the country's problems will come from local communities, state governments, and institutions. Sixty-nine percent of respondents said that state and local institutions—from governments to businesses to community groups and volunteers—offer the best new ideas because they were closer to the problems, more adaptable, and had a greater stake in finding solutions. Just 22 percent of respondents thought the federal government and big business were better equipped to solve the country's challenges.

To varying degrees, that attitude remained constant across gender lines, age, race, and party affiliation—reflecting respondents' strong preference for state and local institutions and solutions.... It shows the extent to which people across demographic groups are turning away from the federal government[.]
The Federal government can still do some useful things. It just shouldn't try to do so many things that are better left to smaller governments. State and local governments can often represent a community with a sort of consensus about what should be done, or about what's important or best in life.

The Federal government has to represent a vast number of communities, and Americans simply no longer share a set of common values across the population. As the diversity of the American community grows, the government will either have to become less powerful or less legitimate. Put another way, the Federal government can either let powers pass to smaller communities that can honestly represent the will of the people, or it will have to use increasing amounts of force and compulsion to impose a view without broad support.

I still think the 10th Amendment more or less gets this right: outside of specifically delegated powers, the Federal government should draw back and leave things to the states. We should reconsider the amendments after the original Bill of Rights insofar as they expand Federal power beyond that original allocation, or serve to limit the power of the states vis-à-vis the Federal government. We should encourage a rollback of Federal laws accordingly.


E Hines said...

Kind of like what some of us in the Hall have been saying for a while.

Eric Hines

Grim said...

More than ten years, now.

Dad29 said...

The Principle of Subsidiarity has been a Roman Catholic social-teachings mainstay for around 2000 years.

After the Century of "Progress" beginning with Wilson, it's nice to notice that subsidiarity is fashionable. Again.