A reader writes:
I'm so glad you posted that Mitch Daniels quote. Initially, it brought a smile to my face because as we all know, Governor Daniels was busted with a large amount of pot back when he was in college and got off scot-free. Had he been pinched several years later, well, that would have been it for good ol' Mitch.
I’m sympathetic to Daniels’ position, but Federalism is "a protection of liberty"? Come on, that’s a meaningless statement. Do we really think that the individual has more liberty under state government than under Federal government? Clearly, states can be, and often are, more repressive and constraining that the Federal government.
To my knowledge, small business owners complain more about state or local regulations than about those promulgated by the Federal government. And, as we all learned from the ACA judicial debates, there are many more things that states can do to regulate individual and business activity than can be done by the Federal government.
As a resident of Colorado and devoted Dish reader, I share Daniels’ hope that the federal government lets us blaze a new trail to legalization. However, reading his quote makes me realize my belief in states’ rights is highly dependent on the issue. On desegregation and abortion, I think we’re better off as a country that federal action overruled the policies of individual states. And running a business that operates throughout the country, I can vouch that it is an absolute pain in the ass to comply with 50 different sets of laws on contracts, immigration, employment issues, and sales tax. So I’m all for it if the feds want to enforce a single law of the land, except when I don’t agree with it, and then I’m all for states rights. Just like most everything in our politics today, issues seem to trump philosophy.
I don't think it's wise or sane to take an absolutist position on this either way. But my instinct would always be toward more local control than central organization – especially in a country where federalism is perhaps more successful than anywhere else.
Previous Dish on the subject here.