Among libertarians, limited government conservatives and nullification activists known as “Tenthers”, there is a commonly held belief that all politics are local. Central to this belief is the fact that liberty cannot be achieved at a national level. History has reminded us of this fact time and time again. When the federal government maintained slavery and mandated the return of runaway slaves, everyone from individuals to government officials at the state and local levels stood up to nullify the slavery machine. More recent examples include the tug-o-war over healthcare policy in America.
Several years ago, former President Barack Obama signed his hallmark legislation, the Patient Protection And Affordable Care Act. Better known as “Obamacare”, this new entitlement would become a target of conservative ire over the years ahead and a common campaign target of Republicans. Thus, with the sweeping victory of Republicans last year, conservatives found hope that the legislation would finally be killed.
Unfortunately, Republicans caved on their promise and decided to go soft on their ideas. Instead of opting for an ambitious return to the free market, Republicans pushed for a different type of government interference while continuing to snub the free markets.
Speaker Paul Ryan predictably failed the conservative cause, but was joined by President Donald Trump and numerous other Republican legislators who joined the Obamacare Lite vote for various reasons. The end result was the legislation passing the United States House of Representatives on the second try.
What can conservatives learn from this political lie several years in the making?
Limited government, by definition, cannot be achieved at the federal level. If there is one thing that United States history has taught us over a couple centuries, it is that bureaucracy grows and power centralizes. While the basic aim of the United States Constitution was to create a functional national government contained by a series of checks and balances, the government has grown to be anything but that. It is out-of-control and ever-expanding.
While Democrats and Republicans often sell themselves as being different parties, they both seek the same goal: power. From George W. Bush to Barack Obama, much of the centralized power remained despite the latter campaigning as being the opposite of the former. The war powers and ongoing occupations remained, while Obama expanded the drone strikes. The surveillance state expanded greatly under the Obama administration as well.
The belief that the federal government knows best is the one constant among Democrats and Republicans at the federal level, and the passage of Obamacare Lite in the House reminds us of this.
The best possible healthcare solution would be to allow the free market to rise. The current political system lacks innovation because all the parties involved have agreed that the best case scenario for healthcare is to feed the insurance companies. There is no room for allowing doctors to work directly with patients, an idea neither party has widely embraced.
Republicans are about control with Obamacare Lite, just as Democrats were with Obamacare. The idea that the Republican Party is different now than it was in the past is false, as they’re still refusing to embrace liberty and the free market.
Federal politics is a lost cause. If change is to occur towards improving the condition of liberty, it will happen in a lower level of government.