Friday, November 12, 2004

Strategery: States Rights

Joshua Holland argues that the Democrats should argue consistently for states rights, that states rights in the 2000s will bring both sides more of the freedoms they want, that by taking the culture war to the states, we'll be getting the Republican hand off the Democratic throat that it has so successfully grasped.

Liberals should start separating substantive policy issues from the symbolic aspects of public life. We should be fighting on the substance and figuring out a way to render the symbolic issues moot on the national level. The answer, I believe, is in a long-held conservative position: states' rights and local self-determination. Savvy Democrats could shift the terms of the national debate away from vaguely defined "values" by consistently stressing that our communities should reflect local values, not those of either party in Washington.
The potential for a broad, progressive coalition is clearly there. Last week, new minimum wage laws in Florida and Nevada passed with 70 percent of the vote. Montana passed a medical marijuana initiative and Colorado voters called for a five-fold increase in their state's share of renewable energy. The Democrats should learn from the grass roots efforts that brought about better policies for those four so-called "red states."

Because at the same time, the religious right is beginning to grumble about the GOP's big tent – they see that the Republican machine has made enormous headway in deregulation, privatization and assaulting organized labor, but aside from throwing the occasional bone to their base, the GOP leadership pays little attention to the evangelicals' agenda after the ballots are counted.

That means the Democrats have an opportunity to turn the tables on the Republicans. If they were to use states' rights to answer those hot-button social issues, the GOP would suddenly be the "obstructionist" party. And that plays to one of our greatest advantages: conservatives need a divided America but liberals don't. Republican leaders know full well that without the culture wars, their socially conservative base would either start looking harder at their economic policies, or just stop turning out altogether.

I would add two things. First, if, like me, you have opposed states rights for partisan reasons -- because, for example, federal courts are more sympathetic to human rights and civil liberties than most state courts -- the time to stop doing that is over. During the next four years, Bush will (I think) tip the Supreme Court decisively to the right, and the party that Roosevelt started will be over.

Finally, with the illegalization of gays and the main civil rights battles already won, it's simply more morally correct to let moral decisions be made locally: in the end, the mechanisms of democracy really do have to determine our laws, and localism decreases the tyranny of the majority.


At 2:20 PM, Blogger Eli said...

Moral calls should not be made locally or nationally, thats the arguement the dem need to succesfully to put forward.

Who is the goverment to decide societys morals?


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