President Obama's Inauguration speech not a call to liberal arms
What I find most interesting is that many who blame the “government” for too much intervention, regulation, and stagnation, clamor that many of these issues should be handled at the state and local level of….government.
The Kansas City Star
Like many Americans, I spent yesterday watching the Inauguration of President Obama on television. From the gathering of rivals in jovial camaraderie at lunch, to the long parade along Pennsylvania Avenue, to the Oath of Office, an amazing performance by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, and, yes, President Obama’s Inauguration speech. Also like many Americans I did so lying on my couch as I battled the flu.
While this bed-ridden status allowed me to fully take in the events of yesterday, it also gave me too much time to watch the ensuing analysis of the speech from pundits, politicos, and newspeople. As I began to drift in and out of my medicated-induced bliss, thoughts of why this speech seems to have sparked such immediate criticism, particularly from the right, kept flowing to the top of my mind.
What seems to be the leading criticism of the President’s speech is that it was a litany of progressive, or even worse, liberal ideals. Economic equality for women, fairness and justice for homosexuals, sensible immigration policies, climate change, gun violence, a call for working together, leveling the economic and opportunity playing field. Wow, who could possibly want such things? Yes I could see how that might scare those who believe the government is the cause of all our ills. But there is no reason for surprise, as for the most part, these are the very issues that President Obama campaigned on during the election.
What I find most interesting is that many who blame the “government” for too much intervention, regulation, and stagnation, clamor that many of these issues should be handled at the state and local level of….government. They argue that residents know what their city and state needs best and so we should make the decisions that affect it. But I ask, do we really?
When I wrote my streetcar article a couple of weeks ago, I became very disheartened after talking to a large number of people about it. Not because they thought I was stupid or were mad at my views, rather it was because they knew nothing about the issue. This shouldn’t have surprised me I suppose, since you can look at local election results and see that some local ballot initiatives are lucky to get 30 percent turnout on election day. But are these apathetic, uninformed, or too-busy-to-care people, the ones who the states’ and cities’ rights crowd want be a part of local self-government?
Also, what happens if these “big brother” policies are handled on a local level? Let’s use the building of a new plant for example. Developer A has a good relationship with Councilman B who leads the creation of Regulation C that allows for the building of Plant D in a location that carries a risk of polluting Water Supply E consumed by 50,000 residents of County F who discover ten years later that in fact pollutants had seeped in causing Medical Maladies G-Z.
Sounds far-fetched, but sadly it really isn’t. Now are all local government issues dealt in such a way that could lead to such harm? Of course, no. But the point is that having no overarching set of rules to follow leaves sole responsibility to the local citizenry (again that well-informed local citizenry) to watchdog the actions of its local leaders.
As for the business sector, we certainly don’t like being told what we can and cannot do, or how, or with whom. But what we hate even more is having to maneuver a plethora of policies, from one city or state to another, just to bring our products and services to market. I for one would rather succumb to a stricter set of rules if I knew they weren’t going to change at the drop of a hat and that they applied to my business across the country.
I am not saying that there isn’t overreach at the federal level, but in reality there is overreach at every level of government, as well as in the private sector. It’s human nature to stake a claim to territory and protect it and defend it all costs. Ideas and policies are no different. But the reality is that there are certain things that in today’s world need a country-wide policy and enforcement.
Of course if we can reach a point in our society where local initiative ballots garnered 80-90 percent participation and people were well-versed on the happenings within their community, things could be different.
But that may just be my medicine talking.