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The president’s failure to follow the Gipper’s vision of federalism

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 5:55 pm - May 14, 2005.
Filed under: National Politics,Ronald Reagan

My friend David Boaz has recently published an excellent piece on federalism where he contends that even though Republicans control both the White House and Congress, they

have forgotten their longstanding commitment to reduce federal power and intrusiveness and return many governmental functions to the states. Instead, they have taken to using their newfound power to impose their own ideas on the whole country.

David does an excellent job of outlining how present-day conservatives have ignored the Gipper’s commitment to federalism. I encourage you to read the whole thing. David sees this move away from federalism “most notoriously” in the proposal to amend the constitution to “ban gay marriage in all 50 states.” The president himself seems conflicted on the issue, at one time, backing this amendment, but later saying that civil unions “should be left up to the states

I agree with the president on the latter point: let the states, through their elected legislatures and through the referendum process, decide on civil unions. We are already seeing a great variety of proposals to recognize gay unions from court-mandated marriage in Massachusetts, to the court-mandated legislative enactment of civil unions in Vermont, to legislative enactment (without judicial coercion) of civl unions in Connecticut and domestic partnerships in California. And now some conservatives in Oregon are considering “reciprocal benefits” for unmarried adults.

The more legislators in the various state discuss different approaches to recognizing gay unions, the more they consider the reality of our relationships. That conversation can only serve to improve the status of gays in civil society.

The president should remember his words in the final days of the campaign in favor of a federalist approach to civil unions. And he should extend that respect for federalism to other items on his agenda. My party should honor Ronald Reagan’s vision and do a better job of returning power to the states. And while they’re at it, they should also make sharper cuts in domestic spending.

Make sure your read David’s piece for an honest critique of Republicans in Washington. David remains one of the best critics of the Bush Administration because his objections to its policies arise from philosophical disagreements (on the role of government), not personal animosity. It’s too bad the president didn’t turn to David’s Cato Institute when he filled the domestic policy posts in his administration and set his domestic policy. Well, there are some signs that he is taking their advice on Social Security reform.

While many of us support the president for his sterling record on foreign policy, we are disappointed that he has strayed from the Gipper’s vision of smaller government, particularly at the federal level.

-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest):

PS. I highly, highly, recommend David’s book, LIBERTARIANISM: A PRIMER.


1 Comment

  1. The reality is that Bush was anything but a conservative, judged by the major decisions of his presidency, according to two stalwarts of the conservative movement establishment. That’s the argument made by Craig Shirley, author of two of the best books on Ronald Reagan’s rise to the White House, and Donald Devine, one of Reagan’s chief political strategiests during that rise, have a superb oped in today’s edition of The Washington Post.

    “But the results speak otherwise. In total, Bush increased federal spending on domestic programs more than any president since Richard Nixon, easily surpassing Bill Clinton, Carter and his own father, so much so that by 2008, America had two big-government parties

    Comment by ldl — April 5, 2010 @ 2:38 pm - April 5, 2010

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