Thursday, November 08, 2012

States' rights for beginners

Conservatives are rightly engaged in soul-searching about how to broaden their appeal. Inevitably many social conservatives are being fingered, mainly by social liberals, naturally. But before we start compromising our principles we should at least fully explore the possibilities for ways in which our principles might appeal to new groups. One such group might be socially liberal young people.

One thing that conservatives could do to increase their appeal to young people is highlight ways in which the conservative agenda might benefit social liberals. An excellent example is the wave of states legalizing marijuana in some form or other. Colorado has just put pot on the same legal level as liquor. They will get harassment from the Feds. Conservatives should defend the states that choose this path on states rights grounds.

Nothing makes the tent bigger than a correct understanding of the Constitution's enumerated powers, giving the Federal government limited, specific powers and leaving to the states unlimited, broad powers. Most of the conflict between libertarians and traditional conservatives can be made to simply disappear by simply saying, "It is a state matter." Sending issues back to the states, leaving them where they always belonged in the first place, dissipates conflict by allowing more people to live under laws that they agree with. But more importantly, it is inherently conservative and mild. The state cannot borrow money or print money and so a break is put on the more grandios schemes of government and central planners. And the rules it enforces are always limited by the power of people to vote with their feet; if they really don't like a law they can not only move, they can visit. 

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