A new Heartland Monitor poll shows that Americans are getting increasingly fed up with gridlock, intrusion, and dysfunction in Washington D.C. According to the poll, 64 percent of Americans believe that state and local government is better equipped at making progress than its federal counterpart. Only 26 percent believe that our national institutions are making any progress at all. Though the disparity was stronger for Republicans than Democrats, this feeling was generally shared by all represented demographics and regions. Americans are waking up to the fact that big government is bad news.
Is it any wonder? President Obama came into office in 2009 with a message of hope and change. And while he was certainly a new breed of Democrat, he brought along quite a few “old breed” traits to the White House. Among them, a belief that the federal government can solve all problems. To that end, he has tried to federalize healthcare, federalize our public schools, and dramatically increase the amount of regulations placed on the private sector.
But the problems didn’t start with Obama. Republicans have been every bit as guilty. The Bush years were characterized by massive spending, as were the Clinton years. We haven’t seen a true-blue, small government libertarian in the White House since the days of America’s founding.
After the financial crisis, many pundits said it signified the end of libertarianism. That was shockingly short-sighted. Indeed, it was the beginning of a new wave of libertarianism, symbolized by the rise of the Tea Party. Americans, fearful of a skyrocketing national debt, federal bailouts, and inevitable increases in taxation, returned to hardline conservatism in droves. The media has declared the Tea Party dead on many, many occasions, but those reports, to say the least, were premature.
This country was founded by revolutionaries who – even at a time when there were far fewer Americans and a far less disparate region – knew that Washington was not properly equipped to decide what was best for every American. They limited federal powers, putting state government ahead of national government whenever possible. This principle has only eroded in the 200 years since, and it has been to the detriment of the Republic.
The only way we can reverse the damage is to go back. This is what is properly meant by “restoring America,” a phrase used so often by Republican candidates. A true restoration means going back to the system of government championed by James Madison. It means slashing the federal budget, destroying unsustainable programs, and restoring power to the states. And once we’ve done that, we can start going further. We can start giving cities more power. Then neighborhoods.
And then, finally, individuals.