Tag: Federalism

Electoral Reform Hits A Rock

Well, this was entirely predictable:

A Trump administration letter requesting data from all 50 state’s voting rolls has put some states and voting rights advocates on edge after many were already wary of the aims of the President’s commission on voting.

The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity’s vice chairman, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, sent a letter to each state Wednesday asking a series of questions soliciting feedback about election administration, voter fraud and the integrity of the process. CNN obtained a copy of the letter sent to Maine’s secretary of state.

Kobach also requested that each state provide “publicly available voter roll data” as allowed under each state’s laws, which could include full names of registered voters, dates of birth, party registration, last four digits of Social Security numbers and voting history.

Multiple states, Republican and Democrat, have told the commission to go jump in an ocean. No, I mean that literally. Mississippi’s Secretary of State said, “They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico, and Mississippi is a great state to launch from. Mississippi residents should celebrate Independence Day and our state’s right to protect the privacy of our citizens by conducting our own electoral processes.”

This is not surprising. Truly eliminating voter fraud, multiple registration and purging expired registration would require a national voter database. And the states zealously guard their ability to run their own elections, especially from someone like Kobach, who has long advocated a more aggressive approach to purging voter roles. I think they are absolutely in the right to refuse to provide this information and would almost certainly win a court battle over this. I’m surprised to see many liberal siding with the states here since a national voter database would be necessary if one wanted to abolish the Electoral College. But … their partisanship happens to line up with what’s right.

Why Federalism Matters

Hmm. Not sure this blogging hiatus thing is going well, but … I had another thought on the election.

Right now, a lot of the liberal echosphere is in a tizzy because Trump, with a Republican Congress, might undo a lot of the things that Obama has done. I think such panic should be reserved until he actually, you know, does stuff. Right now, all we have are rumors of potential cabinet appointments (some of which, I agree, are alarming).

But … I do understand what they’re on about. Much of Obama’s legacy, such as it is, is fragile. But that’s in part because of the way he bypassed the process. The Iran Deal and the Paris deal, whatever you think of them, can be undone because they were never ratified by Congress. TPP can be rejected because Obama never bothered to get it through Congress. Obamacare could be undone because it was passed through reconciliation and has serious problems.

But here’s the thing: a lot of this “progress” could have been insulated from Trump had it been done at the state level. You want cap-and-trade? Try it out in your state. Socialized medicine? You can try, although Vermont and Colorado both rejected it decisively. Protections for LGBT Americans? Do it at the state level and Trump can’t touch it. Radley Balko has a great article in the WaPo about how criminal justice reform at the federal level may be dead, but is moving forward on the state level. And really, if mass incarceration is what worries you, the states are where you should be working since most prisoners are confined at the state level. Free college? Well, California once guaranteed free tuition at its universities. No reason it couldn’t do it again if balanced its books and got costs under control.

States can address police misconduct. States can address poverty. The only things states can’t address are foreign relations (trade, immigration, treaties) which are a federal concern.

You know why the Republican Party is so strong right now, controlling most of the states and Congress? Because they’ve been doing things at the state level. I don’t agree with all of the things they’ve done (e.g., abortion restrictions). But in doing so, they have built up formidable state political machines. And that has paid off not only in state and federal elections but in creating a deep bench of potential president candidates that could have run in 2020 had Trump lost (and will run in 2024).

The Democrats got lazy, too convinced that Obama was their deliverer and that they would control Congress and the White House forever. They thought they could deliver policy from on high. If they really want a “legacy” they need to embrace federalism. There are fifty states where they can try out their brand of progressivism. And most of it can’t be touched by Donald Trump or Paul Ryan or anyone else.

Federalism. It’s a good thing. And as a conservative-libertarian, I’m happy to devolve as much power to the states as the Left wants.

Update: A great tweet-storm from Iowahawk says this better than I could:

(For those of you not on Twitter, click that tweet and scroll down to read the whole thing.)

The Trayvon Amendment

The good news is that this is going precisely nowhere. So the only use it has is to give us something to point and laugh at.

House Democrats said Tuesday they will offer an amendment to push to overturn stand-your-ground self-defense laws in states like Florida.

The amendment, which would withhold some grants from states that have such laws, will come as part of the House’s debate on the Commerce Department spending bill.

Well, apart from the Trayvon case having nothing to do with “Stand Your Ground”, apart from SYG being in no way a “shoot first” law, apart from the utter bogosity of the claim that self-defense killings have tripled in the last decade … apart from all that … this is the sort of federalist blackmail I despise. The Democrats point out that this has been done before. Indeed, it has — it’s how we got the nationwide 21-year drinking age. And thanks a lot for that piece of shit, fuckwads.

Glad to see the tradition of useless, stupid and doomed legislation is alive and well in the Democratic Party. It almost gives me a sense of comfort and stability in these troubled times.