ok... here it is. I have been mentally cooking how to phrase this blog post for well over a year but I have finally, on the eve of the President's 1st State of the Union Address, had enough. I have had enough of spin, of rhetoric, of talking heads who twist each and every piece of data and poll result into an object lesson for their side. Let's start off from my own political perspective because the labels no longer fit the majority of the voters and to just slap a label on me is to underestimate where my vote may or may not go on Election Day.
I am a small-"c" conservative and a member of the Republican Party. Since 1982, when I first registered to vote, I have voted in almost every primary and every general election except one (1984 -- it was a geographic thing). For a time in the 1990s, I was a registered Democrat and switched back to the GOP because the Dems simply did not understand what the People were saying to them. The Republicans seemed to understand the concept of smaller federal government in favor of local control of most issues. Or they used to understand that concept better than the Democrats. Now, neither side of the debate, on a national level, gets it. Every problem that we face as a country could be better solved if the national politicians not only "got it", but acted on that indefinable "it" in a manner that is consistent with the Constitution of these United States.
I am personally pro-Life. I believe that Life begins at conception and ends when God decides that person's time is done. I do not believe that anyone else gets to make that decision for another person though -- up to a certain and reasonable point. My belief in the point in time at which Life begins is just that -- my BELIEF. I have no scientific ability to back it up. I am not God nor am I His messenger on Earth. People should get to make that decision on their own belief structure up until that decision takes a viable life. My own solution would be to allow abortion up until the end of the first trimester so long as counseling on other options is actively provided AND so long as the person is over the age of 18. I believe in parental consent laws. I do NOT believe abortion should be legal after 12 weeks or so unless the mother's physical health/life is in documented grave danger. That is MY belief; agreement isn't necessary. I am not running for President or Senator or any other national office that seems to have taken over yet another local issue for the federal government.
I am also, therefore, anti death penalty. Save your arguments about why the death penalty is ok -- it's the law of many states and the wish of the majority. I disagree with the majority on that issue because I do not believe the government has the right to take a life. What if the government gets it wrong? Even if they get it wrong ONE time, it becomes state-sponsored murder. I am not ok with that. I am a huge fan of real life sentences without the slightest chance of parole. Throw a convicted murdered/child molester/terrorist into the deepest, darkest, dampest hole you can find. Do not give that person internet access or unlimited appeals. But taking their life is just plain wrong. And again, criminal law should be a state-based issue. Federal government can deal with criminality in the military or from terror attacks (and in military tribunals for God's sake!). Let the states deal with issues locally wherever possible.
Is anyone sensing a theme yet? Without going into an endless lecture about the limitations placed on the federal government by our Founding Fathers, let's just say it simply: Jefferson and Madison et al. got it correctly. Small federal government is best and should have LIMITED powers to deal with the bigger picture issues. It is simple. If I have a problem with cars driving too fast near my son's bus stop, I will make that problem known to my local Board of Supervisors in my township. I will NOT ask my two senators to pass a federal law that ties highway funding to the number of tickets written by all jurisdictions in America with no money set aside to track such tickets and with no controls on how long the program lasts. The abuse of the federal powers is rampant in this country and neither side gets it.
Now I am a little spoiled. I live in a Republican township, in a Republican school district and a Republican county where the elected officials pride themselves on keeping our taxes as low as they see possible (they don't always succeed, but they DO try). I can and do use our public schools for my kids. Because I am involved with my community, I know who to turn to if there is a problem. Not everyone is so lucky. The gluttony of the federal government over the past two decades is now so out of control that if you put a stop to one piece of spending, it becomes an unraveling of the entire federal government and therefore the state governments that have become addicted to the federal funds that they should never have received in the first place.
So step back and imagine what the federal government SHOULD look like under the Constitution with its current amendments. National defense? Absolutely... mandated by the Constitution. Postal service and currency...? Yep. Articles of Confederation didn't work so well when we were first starting out because 13 colonies with their own monetary systems wasn't so great. Immigration...? Yep... it relates to the borders. Interstate commerce...? Yep.... but not everything IS interstate commerce that is claimed as such; that's the second biggest power grab in American history. Maintenance of federal highways...? Of course, but not as a political blackmail tool to get the states to comply with unrelated federal legislation. Banking regulation.....yep. Within reason and only because currency and the value of the dollar relate to the value of the federal dollar. That being permissible, there is an extremely fine line between regulation and dictating to private companies. The banks insured by the FDIC (a federal agency) should be required to be responsible in their overall practices and report problems in a timely manner -- they should NOT be charged fees which WILL be passed on to their customers and which will further tighten lending and therefore consumer spending. Common sense.... what a concept.
Everything else... let me repeat that EVERYTHING else is in the purview of the state or local governments under the 10th Amendment. Without the 10th Amendment, 4 or 5 of the 13 colonies would not have ratified the Constitution. Period. The Founding Fathers did not believe that a large federal government was a good idea. We fought a war over this in the 1860s. I know that the South lost and that history is written by the victors, but even the Union troops are rolling in their graves at HOW big the federal government has now become. Some areas where the federal government should not ever, ever be...? Education, Health care (except as it relates to crossing state borders which should be regulared as the banks should be; a Glass/Steagal Act for the insurance companies), Welfare, Unemployment, and all of the "social issues" for which there is a tremendous variance across the country.
Auto company bailouts....? I don't think so. Not ever!!!!!!! I don't see the federal government lending my small business a large chunk of money that allows me to pay myself a huge bonus. Like all small business owners, I am struggling right now. If my struggling clients don't have money, I don't get paid. I am still providing legal services, but these people can't pay what they don't have. Federal Government having summit after summit -- on race, on the middle class, on climate change -- NO, NO, NO!!!!! I want the transparency the President promised when he ran for office. How much did President Obama's trip to MA to stump for Martha Coakley cost the taxpayers????? That is political action. How much did the trip to go get the Olympics to Chicago cost???????? Add up all of these junkets and travels and photo opportunities and you are talking REAL money. All the pork in the so-called Stimulus Package (also inappropriate)...? I want to see every penny posted on the internet like we were promised. Oh wait.... President Obama is great at speaking. Not so much with the governing.
The GOP is equally at fault. Not only did former President George W. Bush never meet a spending bill he didn't sign, but the GOP (nationally) is so damn worried about social issues in which the federal government has NO business that they are just as guilty of the spending. Stop running to the Far Right, guys.... I am looking for fiscal conservatives who give more than lip service to the size of federal government. I don't care if, in running for federal office, you share my beliefs and values. Those running for federal office need to learn the lesson of NJ, VA and MA. That lesson is NOT that the GOP candidate should win or will win... that is simply a decent by-product of the lesson because it limits what the Far Left can do to us.
Both parties are SO far away from what Joe and Jane Smith want or need from their representatives. Maybe THEY should stop listening to Rush Limbaugh and Keith Olberman tell them we want. Maybe they should listen to what We the People are telling them... because we are shouting it over and over again.