Ohio Governor John Kasich, one of the Republican presidential candidate gaggle, wrote a recent opinion piece in the Washington Post under the headline "Washington has become obsolete." Governor Kasich, who chaired the House Budget Committee during his 18 years in Congress, was clearly a member in good standing of the 'Washington Cartel,' as fellow cartel member Senator Ted Cruz refers to our national government. And like Cruz, Kasich waxes warmly for the "federalism our Founding Fathers intended for us."
Kasich is referring, of course, to those golden days before the onset of the federal government's massive intrusion into our lives. He repeats the Republican mantra about the almost unspeakable evil practiced by the Obama administration, which regularly stomps all over the doctrines of the supremacy of state governments and free market capitalism so deeply etched into the Constitution of the United States. Kasich laments that bygone era of unregulated commerce and the individual freedom and prosperity that went with it.
Those were the days! A man had the freedom to work 60 or 80 hours a week for low wages and no benefits. A woman had a right to work the same hours, and also the right be paid a lot less. Black and Brown people didn't need so many rights in those days because they were very happy. Our children had the inalienable right to breathe the sweet air of liberty, laced with sulfuric acid, arsenic and other toxins. And we all had the right to lose all our retirement security because of unscrupulous wheeling and dealing by financial institutions. Good times!
The idea that our Founding Fathers were believers in totally unrestrained free market capitalism is based more on ideological fantasy than actual history. In fact, much of the reason the thirteen colonies came together to declare independence in the first place was in response to decades of corporate overreach by British trading giants, like the East India Company and the Hudson Bay Company. Any suggestion that the Founders led the colonies through a war with their mother country so they could build a new system of governance based on corporate supremacy doesn't even reach laughable.
And as far as reserving all the power to the states, it seems that was tried that in the Articles of Confederation, and after just a few years abandoned as completely unworkable. That's why the Founders decided to create a strong central government, and in 1789 came up with that Constitution thing.
It's sure not that states shouldn't play a major role in our structure of government. However Kasich places them ahead of the federal government "to restore the intended hierarchy of power," which, of course, overlooks that unpleasantness in the early 1860s ending with Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox.
But for perspective on Americans' absolute veneration for their state governments, I seem to remember reading and hearing a lot of people around the country rail about "those idiots at the state capitol" who were totally out of touch with what was going on in communities.
For example, Arizona citizens held a statewide referendum and took away the state legislature's ability to gerrymander legislative districts so the majority party could stay in power. The legislature's response was to take their citizens to federal court to fight it. The legislature lost.
In Texas, several cities enacted bans on the use of plastic grocery bags to try to cut down on litter. And it seemed to work. But then the state legislature passed a law taking that power away from cities. When the citizens of another city got tired of innumerable small earthquakes and held public referendum to ban on oil well fracking within their city limits, the Texas legislature enacted a bill removing the city's authority to regulate fracking inside the city.
As I recall, the citizens of those cities did not share Governor Kasich's absolute reverence for state government. Come to think of it, over the years, I've also heard many citizens talk about the knuckleheads at City Hall, who need to get out and see what's going on around the city. So I'm not sure what level of government is universally held in high esteem.
Governor Kasich and all the others who have so little regard for the national government while they're either serving in it or trying to lead it should remember that the government of the United States, the governments of the fifty states and the governments of all our towns and cities are only as good as the people who work in them and the people who lead them.
Maybe they could work on that.