Fight for the Right of Texans to Govern Texas
Sometimes we don’t notice the real danger even while it’s lurking right under our collective noses. For Hollingsworth v. Perry –the Supreme Court case involving Proposition 8--the media coverage and discussion focuses on same-sex marriage. But the gravest threat of this case could be to our federal system of government. Nowhere is marriage—or healthcare by the way—mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, which would seem to place marriage clearly within the powers reserved to the people and the states according to the 10th Amendment, and thus take the decision out of the Court’s hands altogether and leave decisions relating to marriage and healthcare with the people and the states.
Thomas Jefferson wrote, “[t]he way to have good and safe government, is not to trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many, distributing to every one exactly the functions he is competent to” (Thomas Jefferson to Joseph C. Cabell 2 Feb. 1816). What Jefferson understood is what most of us understand, the further the governing body is removed from what it governs, the greater it tends toward tyranny. This is an unavoidable fact because one’s attachment to, and understanding of, a community decreases the further away one is from that community. Furthermore, the pressure people are able to exert on their elected officials diminishes with the increased distance. This is why the U.S. Constitution establishes a federal system of government in which the people are represented at the national and local level. The local level is a constituent component of the governing process and not subservient to the national government.
When governing is done at the local level, respect for human dignity is maintained thus making federalism the only ethical form of government.
But the nation is on a trajectory leading towards greater centralization. As David Brooks observed, “American history can be seen as a series of centralizing events…Many liberals have tended to look at this centralizing process as synonymous with modernization—inevitable and proper. As problems like inequality get bigger, government has to become more centralized to deal with them.”
The liberal desire for centralization is rooted in the liberal idea that we should place our hope in manmade institutions rather than in traditional institutions that are established through faith, family and community.
As citizens we can work to devolve power from a centralized body to its most basic levels. Instead of focusing exclusively on national politics, citizens would do well to focus on state and local elections, to reorient ourselves from thinking that the national level is the most important level. To allow subnational governing units to increase their prominence, they must assert themselves as important. This can only be done if we elect leaders who are courageous enough to stand up to the nationalizing forces. We must elect leaders who are unafraid of turning down national funds for state and local projects and who are willing to stand up for their citizens by refusing to implement and enforce unpopular national laws within their jurisdiction.
In order to stop the intrusion of the national government into local matters, now is a good time to contact your representatives in the Texas Legislature and express your desire to have them reject national control over state matters which generally comes under the guise of funding. If we have the courage to turn down national money, Texans will retain the ability to govern Texas.