Frederalism Fred Thompson is not lazy or stupid. He is right.
Fred Thompson in the Florida debate demonstrated, again, why he may be the best candidate for conservatives. Because of his friendly, laid-back style, it is easy to assume that Fred is a lazy thinker or lacks fire in his belly or the other tags that have been put on him. Rudy talks fast and so people think he is smart. Fred talks slow and so people think he is dumb. This innocent bigotry prevents people sometimes from understanding what Thompson is trying to say.
Although he appears lazy or dumb (in some people’s eyes), actually Fred sees the big picture and speaks of grand themes and acts only from principle. This is what made Ronald Reagan great. Recall Reagan’s Cold War strategy, after decades of finesse and details? “How about this? We win. They lose.” Fred Thompson is this sort of leader.
But because what Thompson says is genuinely conservative, and conservatives have often forgotten what they believe, many of Fred Thompson’s specific positions on certain issues seem to confuse conservatives.
He understands the vital importance of federalism to our Republic and how the encroachment of Washington upon our lives has weakened that vital principle of sovereign state governments which have prerogatives that the federal government cannot invade under the Constitution. Thompson grasps that the only way to solve many of these problems is to return power to the states.
So, when other Republicans say that Fred Thompson opposes tort reform, they are simply wrong. Thompson has been very clear about his position. He opposes the federal government imposing upon state governments how state courts are run and how judgments are determined in state courts. This is a principled and courageous position. It also makes sense. Companies avoid locating operations in states that have absurd verdicts. Under our Constitution, businesses can locate where the environment best suits them. Federalism is a marketplace of states.
Thompson also believes that marriage should be left up to states, but he also favors a constitutional amendment that would not require states to give full faith and credit to gay marriages. This, again, is exactly the right position. State governments have long determined who can marry whom. So far, states have seen fit not to legalize gay marriages, just like prostitution is illegal in all but a few counties in Nevada and polygamy is illegal everywhere. This is a question in which state governments, not judges and certainly not federal judges and not even Congress, is more reliable in making sound decisions.
The issue of abortion, which so divides America, was not because the Supreme Court “legalized” abortions in Roe v. Wade – abortions were legal in three of the fifty states at the time of the decision – but rather the Supreme Court federalized the issue of abortion. If Roe v. Wade was overturned, then states would be compelled to address the abortion issue directly. Some states, like Vermont and New York, would probably legalize abortion. Other states – most states according to polls – would at least require a waiting period, parental notification, mandatory pre-abortion counseling and many states would ban abortion in all cases except rape, incest or the physical safety of the mother.
State legislatures, those constitutional officers closest to the people, in each state would determine what the values of their citizens were. Voters would be in charge of government, rather than government from Washington directing voters (which is the way our current system operates.)
The consequences of rejecting federalism in favor of a “one size fits all” Washington government results in idiocy like the fifty-five mile per hour speed limit nationwide. The consequence of that was extreme hardship to people in states like Montana, which are geographically huge but have few people, for no real benefit to the nation at all (because Montana had so few people.) Federalism used to be one of the major pillars of the Republican Party. Let states experiment, like Wisconsin and Michigan did with welfare reform.
Another distinct advantage to federalism is that it allows citizens to move to a state with laws they like. So, because of the fact that a large number of Jews live in New York City, the school system of the city used to allow students off not only for Easter, but also for Yom Kippur, which is (or was) an excellent way of respecting the Judeo-Christian traditions of our nation without either Jews or Christians taking offense.
So listen when Fred Thompson speaks. He knows what he is talking about. We need to return the governance of our nation to the people, which means returning as much government as possible to our sovereign states. Frederalism – the marketplace of states - should be the hallmark of conservative domestic politics.
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 MenŐs News Daily. His first book, Sinisterism: Secular Religion of the Lie by Outskirts Press was published in January 2006.