Fred Thompson is the first true "federalist" to run for president in many years. Thompson thinks states, not Washington, should solve most of our problems. How can Hillary campaign against that? It will be interesting to see.
Thompson, the most underestimated political campaigner since Reagan, is going to make state's rights - federalism - the centerpiece of his domestic policy. That theme hits all the right notes: it ends the corruption of Washington and the low approval rating of both Congress and the Presidency; it moves government closer to the people; and it compels even Democrat governors to say "He's right." Never, every, underestimate Fred Thompson.
The recent criticism of President Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” educational policy by Fred Thompson is an excellent indicator of why Thompson can win and how his victory can help restore the American Republic. The thrust of this particular criticism is that the federal government should not micromanage public educational policy and that state, and particularly local, government should be handling more of our governance.
Thompson has taken this principled position of federalism even when it was unpopular with conservatives, like his opposition to federal tort reform, and it is increasingly popping up in his domestic policies across the board. This will be a centerpiece of his entire campaign, and it is a winning centerpiece in several different ways.
People are sick of Washington and they are sick of the all the self-important denizens of the
District of Columbia. State governments work much better than the federal government. State governors routinely win re-election with margins that exceed any presidential landslide. The very low approval rating of Congress combined with the very low approval rating of President Bush and the decline in partisan affiliation of both Democrats and Republicans to historic lows is a barometer of just how high the fever is in America for change in Washington – or change from Washington.
Americans – and not just conservative Americans – sense that Washington is profoundly sick. They also know that Hillary has been in Washington nonstop since 1992 and that when she chose to run as senator, it was not from Arkansas but from New York – the Big Apple, the home of the New York Times, the victim of 9-11 whose congressional delegation cares much more about bashing Republicans than preventing the murder of another three thousand (or, perhaps, in the next attack three hundred thousand?) in the next, inevitable terrorist attack on that putative symbol to our enemy of Jewish hegemony and moral depravity – New York.
What Fred Thompson intends to do, for the good of conservatives, for the good of America, and most importantly for the sake of goodness, is to move as may social and domestic issues as possible to the states (in the old fashioned notion that the intend of the actual Constitution, not the Nintendo “Virtual Constitution” of radical Leftists and other federal theocratic jurists have made it, should prevail.)
What Fred has on his side is two centuries of magnificent government which made America the dream of every sensible person. What he has against him, as described in the new and revised and updated edition of my reference, Sinisterim: Secular Religion of the Lie (Revised and Updated Edition), is the vicious and mendacious storm troopers of the Left (and storm troopers were always on the left, as my book documents) who hate decentralized government because they want no real diversity of government or thought, in America or in the world. These Sinisterists love bureaucracies like the United Nations or the European Union. They want all power closely packed together.
As I note extensively in my new book, Sinisterism: Secular Religion of the Lie (Revise and Update Edition), this has been a feature of Sinisterism for more than a century. The Nazis, for example, made their most revolutionary changes in utterly destroying that powerful states of the Weimar Republic, a fact that authors at the time noted was the single most important government change the Nazis made. At one point, Hitler’s Germany was almost to the point of going to war with its second largest state, Bavaria, unless the Bavarian Premier, at last, yielded to the inevitable.
In the old Soviet Union, Sinisterists concentrated all power in the multi-national empire in Moscow. Even the First Secretaries of the large communist parties, like in Ukraine, was mere puppets, exercising power only as members of the Politburo. Centralization is the common theme of all Sinisterists.
So Sinisterists hate truly federal nations like America, Canada, and Australia, just as they have hated confederations like Switzerland. What does this have to do with Thompson? He knows and he senses that state’s rights (or cantonal rights or provincial rights) really are vital to the success of the democratic republic. It is not a sexy issue: it is simply a vital issue.
All of the angst about abortion over the last third of a century is not because of the legality or illegality of abortion. The angst was because the federal judiciary took what had been a matter of state legislative law and magically transformed it into immutable federal judicial constitutional law. Abortion was legal in three states at the time of Roe v. Wade, and if the people of the other forty-seven states wanted to legalize abortion, virtually nothing prevented them from doing so.
Is this championing of state’s rights good politics? I think so. It will, of course, resonate in the South, where federal intrusion brings back many unhappy memories. It should play well in the Rocky Mountain States, where the federal government owns much of the land and where the citizens are thousands of miles from Washington. Likewise, it should be popular in the Great Plains. And it could play well in Great Lakes states like Wisconsin and Michigan, which have had a history of successful experimentation at the state level with problems that the federal government is ill suited to solve.
The state’s rights issue also places Democrats in state governments in an awkward position. Will Governor Granholm say “Washington has a much better plan for improving the schools in Michigan than I do”? What will Democrat governors say when Fred goes into their states and says “I trust you more, even though you are a Democrat, to solve the problems of the people of your state than I trust Washington”? What, on Earth, can they say?
The issue of real federalism, played right by Fred, will force Hillary to travel around America telling New Mexicans, Minnesotans, Ohioans, Coloradans, Floridians, Oregonians, Iowans, and all the other citizens of Flyover Country that “Fred Thompson is wrong, we elites in Washington know what is better for you than your local and state elected officials.” The savvy, wise, folksy and sincere Thompson can trap Hillary into saying just that, which is very bad politics for Hillary and very good politics for Fred.
Bruce Walker has been a published author in print and in electronic media since 1990. He is a regular contributor to WebCommentary, Conservative Truth, American Daily, Enter Stage Right, Intellectual Conservative, NewsByUs and Men’s News Daily. His first book, Sinisterism: Secular Religion of the Lie by Outskirts Press was published in January 2006.