The Concept Of Federalism Smacks Obama Across The Face

There is a silver lining in the storm clouds that are the big-time government overreach also known as ObamaCare. Well, actually two of them.

First, that the debacle has forced President Obama's hand, driving him to once again violate the law that bears his name by announcing a one year insurance policy cancellation reprieve, something that neither the insurance companies or the various state insurance commissions are ready to handle. Call it a publicity stunt because something like this takes more than a few weeks to implement. It's too little too late and those whose policies are scheduled to end on December 31st will still likely have their policies canceled because their insurance companies aren't set up to extend the deadline.

Second, Obama's belief that he and the federal government are the only source for 'relief' from problems that most Americans do not have, or are of the making of that same government (an president). Most 'problems' are better handled at state and local level because local problems require local solutions. What works in my home state of New Hampshire might not work in Arizona. But Washington seems to think that one-size-fits-all solutions are all that's needed. As the ObamaCare debacle illustrates, that “just ain't so.” It is a hard lesson for Obama and certain members of Congress that federalism works much better and its virtues outweigh those of the top-down approach taken by statists.

Barack Obama's health care plan hit nerves that are still radiating pain among many people. But being a federal program, it couldn't accommodate the many Americans who want a different approach. It's a zero-sum game. One side has to win, and the other has to lose.

It didn't have to be that way. Why is same-sex marriage, which was once politically preposterous, faring so much better than health care reform? Why has liberalization of marijuana laws happened without provoking threats of secession? One simple reason: Those changes have taken place at the state level -- and only in states that chose them.

They're the product of an ingenious but often unappreciated ingredient of our system of government: federalism. In a nation with 317 million people spanning a continent, there are great differences in culture, politics, religion and barbecue. What allows us to be united states rather than warring ones is that on many things, we can agree to disagree.

Just because Vermont and New Hampshire are the Mary-Kate and Ashley of states doesn't mean they want the same things. One has a state income tax, and one never will. The people of Maryland wouldn't want to live under the laws that suit Mississippians, and vice versa. Decentralization allows peaceful coexistence.

Indeed. As we have seen again and again throughout our own history, one-size-fits-all solutions tend to cause more problems than they solve, generate mistrust, and have on more than one occasion fomented rebellions, large and small.

The US is not a monoblock, with everyone in the nation thinking the same way about issues that matter. Not everyone has the same solutions to problems we all face because a solution that works here is entirely inappropriate there. That is the beauty of the federal system set up by The Founders because they understood this issue. (This understanding led to the Ninth and Tenth Amendments of the US Constitution which enumerated in no uncertain terms that the federal government had only those powers granted to it by the Constitution and all the rest belonged to the states and the people.)

The ObamaCare debacle shows everyone that things as important as health insurance should be handled by the states because they have a much better handle of what their citizens need than some bureaucrat in Washington. We've certainly seen that with things like gay marriage, legalization of marijuana, gun rights, gambling, and a whole host of other issues better handled locally. The federal government is neither smart enough or wise enough to know or understand what any of us need. (Not to be confused with nice-to-haves.)