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The Most Important Political Question? January 15, 2008

Posted by Who? in Politics, Random.
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Had an interesting conversation while driving a couple friends to the airport the other day.  We started talking about the primaries and politics and different candidates.  Eventually ended up talking about who we were actually going to vote for and it looked something like this: Paul-3, Obama-2 and Giuliani-1.  My friend’s fiancee was apalled by Paul’s victory– “How could you vote for Paul, he’s pro-life!?!”

Almost in unison, the Paul supporters chimed back with something like, “Who cares?  I don’t care what his personal opinion is.  He will let the States decide where they stand.”  And it hit me.  This is the most important political issue warranting both positive/conceptual analysis and constitutional analysis. 

The most important question is this: big Fed or big States?  Federalist or Anti-Federalist?  If I recall correctly, those classifications are  now counter-intuitive– Federalist being in support of stronger States.  This, to me, is more important than any gum-flapping about the hot-button political issues du jour: pro-life/pro-choice, universal health care, social security reform, immigration, jobs, the economy, tax reform– these are all distracting window-dressing.  Responses to these questions can almost literally be translated to “This is what my people tell me test the best and will get me elected”.  I just heard the perfect example on the news- “I will not rest until Michigan is back on top!” both McCain and Romney said almost the same thing.  Are you kidding me?

In addition to being beside the point, politicians’ answers are often meaningless.   Candidates flip-flop.  They lie.  They spin.  They skirt the issue to avoid revealing an unpopular opinion.  They say one thing on the campaign trail and do the opposite once elected .  It may sound stupid to say this but a politician’s job is to get elected.  I’d love to see a study of campaign positions/promises versus post-election performance but I digress.

The state of the political system is depressing.  More than once in the last couple months I’ve heard something like this, ” I don’t really care who gets elected, they’re all the same.  I just tried to pick the least-bad one of the bunch.”  It sucks and  I feel the same way.

Politicans lie.  The revolving door between government and big business continues to spin.  Foreign policy continues to head in the wrong direction.  The common thread as I see it is that the Federal government has become the sole domain of the elite and special interest groups.  The common citizen doesn’t know what they don’t know.  Even if they did know, they don’t have the time to think about macro-political concepts like Federalism v. Anti-Federalism and which way the Constitution should be interpretted; they have to worry about the stuff that politcians pretend to care about: jobs, taxes, the economy, healthcare… 

I don’t know how the system got to its current state.  Or maybe the current state is the historical status quo.  Federalist Paper No. 10 tackles this very issue: special interests groups.  Did the Anti-Federalists’ (now Federalists) loss 200 years ago set the table that we now sit at?

Madison trumpted the strength of a Republic with an emphasis on Federal power as protecting against the very group (special interests) that seem to dominate contemporary politics.  Was this an error in analysis or the case of a politician doing what politicians doing best?  I haven’t spent enough time reading Madion’s work but based on what I have read and my natural tendency to classify politicians as such, it appears to be the latter.

 More on this topic later…fo sho! 

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Comments»

1. Crystal - January 15, 2008

You need to read that book. Exactly what you’re talking about.


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