I have spent an enormous amount of time watching the Democrat’s resistance movement, trying to determine whether or not they have the potential to form powerful grassroots movements aimed at changing the outcome of elections. When you watch these Democrats show up at townhall meetings, one of the things I notice is that so much of their anger swirls around President Donald Trump and everything they think he represents. This was true of Republicans under President Barack Obama as well. Few people are asking questions about what’s good for Virginia, or what their local and state governments could be doing for them, for their economy, and for their communities.
Local government is the most important government; so how did we come to care so little about it?
Over the last twenty-five years, Republicans and Democrats in Congress have been delegating more and more authority to the executive branch. An example of this is the enormous power granting to the Secretaries of Health and Human Services and Housing and Urban Development. Our Congress passes vague laws that empower agencies to take up greater roles in the live of average Americans, often controlling state and local governments with strings attached to grants and other finances.
The vast amount of decisions that affect our lives today are made by administrators working directly under the President of the United States. Therefore, controlling the White House seems to be the most important thing in the world and activists live and die with the results of national elections every four years. This has created a very real problem for Virginia.
The privatization of many government services has established a massive industry in and around Washington D.C., including Northern Virginia. Northern Virginia is one of the wealthiest places in the United States as it feeds off of expanding federal activity. Any reductions or stalls in the growth of federal spending now damages the Virginia economy and housing market. Those dependent on government for their livelihoods often vote Democrat, making Virginia a blue state in national and statewide elections.
This is unacceptable and it’s terrible for residents of the Commonwealth. The only institution capable of changing this is the United States Congress. Only they can take their rightful powers back from the executive branch. However, this seems unlikely to happen. Why did they start delegating authority to the federal bureaucracy in the first place? Because they preferred the American people despising bureaucrats instead of Congressmen. They want deniability when policies hurt the American Public. Presidents don’t care. They are more powerful now that at any time in our nation’s history and the bureaucracy is so vast and so complicated that Presidents are often times not associated with the departments they oversee.
Because the executive branch is so powerful, the damage one party can do to the interests of the other in four years of controlling the White House is almost unimaginable. Presidents rule by executive fiat and a change in party means a dramatic change in policy. The swings this country could take in the future seem practically unsustainable. President Obama created policy through executive orders; orders undone by the Trump Administration creating instability for administrators, regulators, and those being regulated.
How can the economy recover and grow under such inconsistent and unstable government? This is something to think about when your Congressmen tells you that X, Y, and Z are decisions made by our President or our bureaucracy. Why is the President and the bureaucracy in charge of these issues in the first place? Why are unelected bureaucrats seemingly more powerful than elected representatives to the United States Congress?
We’ve become more polarized than we’ve been since reconstruction. Our State’s are more dependent on the federal government than at any other time in our nation’s history. Elections shouldn’t mean as much as they do today; for when we say that elections have consequences, we’re talking serious consequences that reverberate through every city, county, and town in this country.
The only people that can save us are people who have absolutely no reason to do so. As we become more polarized, Republicans will not stomach their representatives working with Democrats and Democrats will not stomach their representatives working with Republicans. Governing becomes impossible. Hatred for and fear of the other side becomes a source of violence, paranoia, distrust, and eventually, political balkanization.
Our current direction as a nation is unsustainable.