Via Western Journalism, Texas Governor Rick Perry speaks on a panel with other governors – Nikki Haley of South Carolina, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Bill Haslan of Tennessee – about a recent meeting between the National Governor’s Association and President Barack Obama.
Perry didn’t like what he heard.
“For the President of the United States to look Democrat and Republican governors in the eye and say ‘I don’t know trust you to make decisions in your state about issues of education, transportation, infrastructure,’…that is really troubling.
Indeed it is, since America is by definition a union of sovereign states. And while states rights are traditionally seen as something conservatives value far more than liberals, meaning that we perhaps shouldn’t be surprised at President Obama’s disdain for gubernatorial autonomy, I’m not sure why the left isn’t more on board with states rights.
After all, much progress on issues the left holds dear have come at the state level.
Look at marijuana legalization, for instance. The federal government has not changed their position on the drug, but states like California, Colorado and Washington have effectively nullified federal drug laws, pushing ahead with their own policies.
Gay marriage, too, has been an issue pushed ahead by the states. Through legislative action, and ballot measures, more and more states are opening up marriage laws to include gays all while little action has come from the federal level. At least, not until after the states had already broken ground.
It seems to me that states rights should be something supported across ideological and partisan lines. While Democrats may like the idea of a big, muscular federal government while Democrats are in charge, what if we one day elect a social conservative – say a Rick Santorum – who tries to undo state-level policies legalizing gay marriage and legalized pot?
Of course, an expansive federal government with its myriad programs fits in better with the liberal idea of the role of government than do the “laboratories of democracy” and innovation embraced by states rights proponents.