Traditionally, the left-right bifurcation of American politics is understood in reference to the federalist system. Conservatism upholds the sovereignty of individual’s judgments. Government it views as inherently limiting. To the limited degree government is a net positive, it is solely in its role as arbiter of disputes where one individual charges another’s actions have violated his rights. In all cases, organs of state and local governments as the superior means by which to rectify political…View More Left and Right Are No Longer Useful Political Markers
Post-2016 tribalism has put defensiveness at the forefront of politics. Particularly on the right, Reagan’s 11th Commandment—don’t insult members of your own party—has always held sway, but the Trump cult of personality has put such thinking into overdrive. One cannot criticize the president on any grounds without being harangued, dragged over the coals and called any number of rude names you’d be loathe to repeat in front of your mother. The 11th Commandment has long…View More To Remain Viable, Political Parties Require Internal Debate
Political reform, whether it favors sweeping institutional overhauls or looks to fixes tailored towards more narrow problems, operates under the assumption that government dysfunction ultimately stems from some flaw within government. This statement might seem blatantly tautological, but in fact it reflects a deeper problem with American politics: a fundamental misunderstanding of the complex role of the polity in structuring and directing the machinations of government institutions. Though “democracy” is likely the first word that…View More The Missing Element of Political Reform Debates
The falling away of federalistic principles from government is often linked to the increasingly nationalistic scope of politics. Under the auspices of the commerce clause and the “necessary and proper” clause, federal government officials have been able to rationalize their claim to final regulatory authority over an increasingly wide swathe of issues. The commerce clause gives Congress power to “regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States”. The necessary and proper clause is…View More Is National Security Replacing the Commerce Clause as the Basis for Sweeping Federal Power?
There is a strain of modern political thought that equates specialized knowledge and topical expertise with elitism, itself rooted in anti-populism. Such thinking contributes to high levels of political inefficacy as the operational premise of representational government is that legislators, who dedicate their time to informing themselves on issues that affect their constituents, will use their knowledge of both the issues and their constituencies to make political choices calculated to promote the interests of residents…View More Congress Is Inept Because It Was Never Meant to Be the Primary Political Problem Solver
There is perhaps nothing so indicative of an increasingly oligarchic trend in government as language from politicians signaling their actions are oriented around what is most convenient to others of their ranks. By way of example, a recent story in Roll Call detailed how, in the waning hours before the government shutdown took effect, Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) attempted to broker a three-week stop-gap spending measure. Though one might hope his motivation was some respect…View More The Shutdown Highlights Oligarchic Attitudes in Government
If one believes that many of the shortcomings of today’s politics can ultimately be traced to the abandonment of federalist principles—as tends to typify certain strains of right-wing thought—then the trend in national elections, which primarily subjects candidates running for federal office to scrutiny by other elected officials rather than to the judgment of their constituents, should be an alarming one. It is perhaps telling that while many descry the influence of outside actors, particularly…View More Re-establishing federalism starts with divorcing national politics from elections