Remember when President Reagan was still in charge? He was a big states’-rights fan. Really hated it when the Federal government stepped in and made the states conform to national rules – wanted to make the Federal government very small, like the Founding Fathers wanted it. Except, of course, when he didn’t. Reagan loved the FBI and CIA, especially when they investigated harmless people like the Sierra Club, and when they would plant explosives in various anti-war or environmental groups (in one case, years of prosecution ended when the judge discovered that the only violent member of a small green group was the FBI employee who had infiltrated it). States’ rights mattered, except when they didn’t, and they didn’t when he made the drinking age 21 across the country. Oh, states could resist, as long as they didn’t mind losing all their billions of dollars in highway funds. The Federal government was too strong, Reagan argued, as he used the CIA to train people like Bin Laden and countless South American thugs in torture and terrorism. But that was okay, because we were fighting communism, and the ends always justify the means. It must have been okay, because Reagan had an airport named after him. So did John Foster Dulles, incidentally.
Now we have the same issues. George W. Bush, who likes to pretend to be a conservative (though organized crime boss seems more appropriate, given all the billions given away to his friends, no strings attached, in the Iraq war – and the fact that most of what we have been supposedly building at phenomenal expense has recently been exposed as substandard and useless – and that he has blocked any form of auditors from preventing war profiteering). Bush also stood up for states’ rights, again and again. Except now, when he insists that the EPA is responsible for all pollution regulation and that states cannot overrule it or enact more strict rules. At issue is carbon dioxide emissions, which the Supreme Court – remember them? They appointed Bush in the first place – has ruled that the EPA must consider. The EPA, incidentally, has chosen to believe that while the Supreme Court can make the Chief Executive, it cannot tell the Chief Executive’s agencies what to do, and is refusing to do anything of the kind. Did you ever wish you were like the EPA or Microsoft and could ignore any judge in the land?
Several states have stepped in and decided that they would start enacting carbon dioxide caps, because for anyone not paid by ExxonMobile and the American Petroleum Institute (that’s hundreds of individual “researchers” as well as at least 40 different “research” institutions – including many people who used to work for the tobacco firms telling us that there was no link between smoking and cancer), there is a serious, real, imminent danger coming up. Global warming doesn’t mean that it’ll be 100 degrees in Saskatoon winters; it doesn’t need to. The climate doesn’t need much of a change to raise sea levels uncomfortably high, kill off lots of the fish we eat, greatly increase the savage intensity of hurricanes and tornados, create droughts and floods, and in short do all sorts of nasty things to us and our economies. So the states are starting to work on slowing down the rate of change. Unfortunately for them, and us, George W. Bush and his so-called conservative friends have decided that states’ rights only exist when the states agree with them, and they are pushing back in court, demanding that the Federal government prevail over the states.
States’ rights when they agree with you is hardly conservative thinking. The Republican Party should be ashamed of itself for leaning more and more away from conservatism and into the “corporate state.” Unfortunately, it seems that Ayn Rand would need to write several more novels for the average Republican to see this clearly – that corporate states are no better for individual freedom than union states.