More gruel
How do we feel about smaller government now?

How do we feel about smaller government now?

Only a week into Trump’s transition the process has already descended into dark comedy. Early reports indicate Trump is building a clown car cabinet while semi-credible campaign allies find themselves isolated from the process. As frightening as this disaster may be, it does offer a political opportunity. In a post at Forbes today I reach deep into a dwindling well of optimism to find a potential ray of hope:

What if conservatives were right about the threat to liberty posed by a massive, ever-expanding bureaucratic state? What if liberals were right about the vital importance of a social safety net, environmental protection, and cultural diversity? In a sense, Trump’s victory seems to have simultaneously vindicated both sides of the political spectrum.

If we have the audacity to reconsider our alignments, a new political coalition could emerge from this crisis. Market-oriented business interests may finally discover their common cause with the social justice activists, shedding the baggage of old policy assumptions. If the left could move beyond a neo-Marxist insistence on central control and the right could abandon their laissez faire economic fantasies, we might unlock a new toolbox. Perhaps solutions to our thorniest public problems have been hiding right under our noses.

To find this possibility, the post looks back to the last time western democracies faced an existential threat from Fascists. Friedrich Hayek described a whole template of policy alternatives that would allow us to solve major public policy problems with a smaller, lighter, less authoritarian government. The left loved big government when they felt like they could potentially control it. With the entire central government under the leadership of a radically dangerous figure, maybe we have an opening to consider alternatives.


  1. I just have to say, statements like this from intelligent conservatives always leave me in despair: “If the left could move beyond a neo-Marxist insistence on central control…”

    Virtually all the liberals I know would sign up for the deal Chris proposes, even before the election. The problem is that conservatives have always insisted that the safety net just promotes laziness, and the way forward requires us to cut off SNAP recipients from access to food.

    We’re interested in solutions, not growing the size of government. Show me a group of conservatives who believe a safety net is a vital function of government, that some regulation of markets and business is necessary, and who doesn’t think compromise is a dirty word and I’d be thrilled. Heck, I might even vote for them.

    The last Republican I voted for was Tom Campbell when he was running against Diane Feinstein for the California Senate. I knew he was going to lose, but I liked what he had to say. Of course, he was later demonized as a RINO by Carly Fiorina when he tried to run for governor. If the Republican Party would move back in his direction, I’d have some hope for them and the country. Right now, I see nothing but destruction on the right and a holding action on the left.

    1. I feel the same way, Rose. We’re about to get a civics lesson on how smaller government and privatization will “improve” things that big bad bloated government never could…..Does anyone think that $1T in funding infrastructure improvements through the private sector is going to save tax dollars or reward donors? We’re going to find out….a new way….Now, if Lockheed could ever get the fighter plane developed that is years over deadline and billions over budget….that’s how well privatization has worked for defense.

    1. I agree, Bobo. On issues of agreement, why not? It holds T to his rhetoric and gives Dems something they can constructively achieve. What will be interesting is the budget battle for the “pay for”. I can envision the GOP agreeing but with cuts to programs in the safety net or others that benefit the Dem base.

      It is worth noting that there is not unanimity within the Dem Party on this strategy. Others feel they should obstruct it all. This would not be consistent with the Dem precedent. For instance, Dems fought tooth and nail against the Medicare Part D (RX plan), but when it became obvious they didn’t have the votes, they worked with Repubs to make it the best plan they could. Of course that favor was not returned with the ACA, but Dems are nicer people (-;

  2. Hi Guys
    I think part of the problem is that you have set up a system that is not fish or fowl – you have strong state governments and a strong federal government

    Because you have such a strong federal government the people don’t keep a good enough eye on the state governments so you have some very flakey state governments and historically very low levels of voter oversight

    You need to either become a single country called the USA with a decent national government and the local governments doing strictly local stuff

    Or become a number of independent countries with a common economic agenda – like the EU

    Trying to do both is tearing you apart

    1. Duncan, I’ve been thinking of you and your countrymen and women. Did you have troubles with the recent weather event?

      I think your delineation is a good one…it is protected by strong separation of powers that “check and balance”…or, not….if the same party controls everything from the bottoms up. We’ll have a chance to watch how this unfurls, that’s for sure.

  3. Interesting idea. A few quick impressions:

    1) I’m not totally clear if the post is pushing harder for more federalism, or more market-based (as opposed to fiscal/regulatory) approaches. To a certain degree they are contradictory

    (a state could choose to implement a market-based approach, of course, but it’s likely to find it harder to make it work than if it’s nationwide)

    2) increased federalism is hard for libs to buy into, because it’s been so discredited by past experience.

    There is of course the deep racist legacy attached to the concept of states’ rights. Federalism often sounds like abandoning the poor and disadvantaged in red states to suffer, which rubs libs wrong.

    [[Honestly why do I care that some 16 year old in West Texas can’t get an IUD because of red-state misogyny, and will end up pregnant at 17 and not go to college. Only because (a) I’ve been primed by the left-machine to care, and (b) because am comfortable generating empathy for those very much unlike me.]]

    Then, more recently, the devolution of power to states perceived as an approach to killing social welfare (i.e. block grant, freeze the budget, let states divert all the money to fill general budget gaps, and you never had to be responsible for “killing” it.)

    Trying to get libs to buy into any form of federalism will run into resistance on the assumption that it is code for creating ethics-free zones

    3) With more federalism, I wonder how many programs would struggle because of the variations from state to state

    I always hear people say that we can’t do more for the poor, on a local level, because it will just attract “those people” from elsewhere. Doesn’t that thinking get worse? What if CA has great insurance–will everyone who gets cancer move there and swamp the system? These problems can be tackled, of course. Presumably MA had an exclusion policy of some kind when they alone had universal insurance. But still, it seems like expanded federalism might introduce a lot of new friction points

    3) I sometimes wonder if we haven’t already been too optimistic in expecting market based approaches to solve our problems. The level of tax-code engineering we’ve already implemented seems ridiculous, and largely ineffective. All the efforts to programs to improve the mortgage crisis were complete flops. Obamacare is struggling to get the markets to work. 401Ks have been fairly disastrous for our country. All the myriad of “savings accounts” have been laughable. Markets *might* solve carbon, but they will struggle to deal with 1,000,000 farmers all running off a bit too much fertilizer and ruining the Mississippi River, say.

    Mostly these things seem to help the affluent, who can navigate the hurdles and understand the benefits, while creating a lot of hassles for everyone.

    The specific examples you list seem good, because simple, direct and national. Maybe there are other market-based approaches which would fit those criteria as well. But the list of issues that conform to those requirements might actually be pretty short.

    1. Fred, excellent thinking. There is a good reason why liberals suspect conservatives of chicanery. It’s called: history – as you’ve touched upon in your comment. It is valid criticism to suspect Republicans motive and beneficiaries because so often their priorities align with upper income/business executive individuals. The income divide is real and the GOP plan, “A Better Way”, will only exacerbate it.

      I’d be real interested to see the list of issues that you feel might qualify for decentralization as Chris lightly touched upon it. When we reduce big ideas to specifics is usually where people start dividing up.

      BTW, I have heard/not read, that MA’s exclusionary provision in their health care model is a 12 month waiting period for new resident eligibility.

    2. People vote with their feet. The only reason I have stayed in Florida is because my daughters and grandchildren are here , Orlando is a blue dot of tolerance in a purple state and I had one of the few good jobs here. I am a well off retiree and Florida depends on my type as we pump billions into the economy. But if things get nasty enough I will move and convince my family to do so with me. I would rather put up with snow than intolerance and oppression of people. So Chris is right in the long run but not in the short run.

  4. I’m in California so I’m fully behind this agenda. However I’m going to guess a big part of the comments section disagreeing with you is that your moderate-to-liberal Texan friends don’t want to influence OUR politics, they want us to influence THEIR politics. Decentralization might be scary for them because is could give the white nationalists/fundies even more control over their politics, and would kill their dream of expanded health care they would only get on the federal level, not the state one.

    Still I’m generally a Decentralization guy. Let me know when this party gets formed and how I can join (most likely scenario now is that it would be an internal faction of the Dems, Bourbon Democrats style?).

    1. I guess I’m on the team that wants TX politics to look more like CA politics (-; But, seriously, you’re a “decentralization” guy. How and what would you decentralize, Griff? These are such big terms and I think part of the problem is we don’t know what each other means. As an ex., I think public education, generally, could be a good candidate for decentralization (Chris advocates this in his book and I agree), but with protections. How do you avoid situations like what happened here in TX where kids with special needs were denied services because the state “set” a cap in how many children could be included? If you agree this was wrong (we’re talking 500K kids that were turned away), would you trust each state to set and enforce guidelines for serving those children who are (thankfully) a minority of the school population, and would consistency matter if the family moved to a different state with the same special ed child?

      You begin to see the problem. Also, workplace safety. Isn’t this an area that is highly appropriate for national standards/regulations? Voting rights….isn’t there a legitimate constitutional fundamental right that should transcend state level politics?

      As for health insurance – one day, you will have a health condition that will be expensive. You may be fortunate to have personal wealth but even that can be stripped away through chronic or unexpected illnesses and/or accidents. The real fundamental question for America is this: is access to affordable, quality health care a right or a privilege? When one has personal wealth and/or employer insurance, or perfect health, the answer to that question is not as perplexing as it is to the 45 million people who were uninsured/uninsurable at the beginning of implementation of the ACA.

      I’m sure others can contribute to the list….Decentralization in and of itself is not bad, what is bad is when change happens without a system of checks and balance – much like the examples I cited in my earlier comment.

      Your thoughts?

      1. I’m sure some sort of bare minimum federal medicaid/medicare system will have to be maintained but the way it’s set up now California can not set up their own universal healthcare, it has to be on the federal government. How would this federal universal healthcare work with our current politics? First the white house would have to be filled by a liberal Democrat (which won’t happen for at least another four years), then progressives would have to make up a massive majority of both Houses of congress, and then it would have to survive the Supreme Court. And then we’d have to hope the GOP/radical right doesn’t take back power and just dismantle the whole thing when it’s done.

        Instead of holding out hope that 100% of Americans will somehow be covered we can decentralize it and vastly increase the percent of Americans with health insurance. Provide us with grants and with fewer rules on it (cut us loose so to speak) and we can handle it, that way federal resources can be focused on where they would likely be needed most anyways (the Deep South, mostly).

      2. Griff, your health care plan sounds just like “A Better Way”! Problem is, block grants don’t always meet health costs….chronic illnesses, severe accidents, heart attacks, cancer…I haven’t read anything about how people who succumb to these devastatingly expensive health problems would manage under a fixed voucher. Assume there will be a private health insurance option, but just as it is with medicare, supplemental health insurance covers only those expenses medicare approves and only 20% of the cost. There has been talk of a “catastrophic” insurance pool for people whose expenses are greatest, but the people who will fall into this category would likely be least able to afford it. Even MA residents still utilize medicare for its elderly, and MA has the 4th highest per capita income in America which positions them much better to handle expenses through self-insurance.

        In my view, the only way to achieve quality, affordable health care for all Americans is through shared costs amortized over time. I don’t think you’ve thought deeply enough on this topic to offer it as an example of decentralization, but I am sure you have other suggestions. What are they?

  5. Chris, I don’t favor large or small government. I favor a government that solves problems and protects the rights of the least advantaged of us. I believe that history has shown that many states have failed miserably at this task and continue to do so. For some reason it took and takes federal mandates to ensure that the states comply with this.

    In the case of healthcare I think we should seriously review and evaluate what the rest of the world is doing and use their success and our failures to design a system that will:
    1) Provide every American with health insurance.
    2) Reduce the cost of our health care system from the current 17+% of GDP down to something like 10% in order to be in line with and competitive with the rest of the civilized/industrialized world (one of Obama Care’s faults was that it was not a job killer – how else can you cut this much money out of the system?).
    3) Provide coverage that is uniform in cost and quality across the country. I shouldn’t have to worry about my coverage when considering relocating or traveling. If you had a severely handicapped child you would have to turn down a job promotion if it was to a state that didn’t provide needed healthcare (Medicaid) so that that child (all too soon to be an adult) could function as independently and with as much dignity as possible.

    I don’t believe that these requirement mandate a single payer, large government system. But neither do I believe that healthcare is best dealt with in our traditional market environment. You may be able to shop insurance companies but how do you select one when you do not know what you or your family will need in the future? And you just can not shop for healthcare when you need it (before you sign off on the agreement to pay all costs not covered by your insurance company just try and get the hospital to give you an estimate of what their bill will be before you or yours goes in for that needed operation).

    I believe that other countries have met these goals by various methods and our pig headedness on this subject has got to stop. When Donald Trump or Paul Ryan or you talk about changes to the health care system (repealing Obama Care, “saving” Medicare, block granting Medicaid to the states) I think the press and we the people must get them to talk about the issues I raised above and show how their “improvements” will meet these bottom line requirements.

    1. ***I don’t believe that these requirement mandate a single payer, large government system. But neither do I believe that healthcare is best dealt with in our traditional market environment.***

      I think you are missing the point. When and under what circumstances do you imagine you are going to accomplish these or any other policy goals you value through Congressional action? Seriously. Think it through. Include in your analysis a 60-vote majority in the Senate, along with control of the White House and Congress.

      And in the meantime, what benefits do you expect to enjoy from an enormous government infrastructure which reaches into nearly every aspect of our lives?

      Guys, I get that you’d like to see certain policy goals achieved. But what happens when the government apparatus you built with an eye toward those goals falls into the hands of someone like Donald Trump?

      Maybe there was a flaw in this plan all along. Maybe there would have been some benefits to a less ambitious, or even a state-by-state effort to accomplish many of your goals. The biggest obstacle preventing California and Vermont from adopting single payer insurance over the past decade was existing Medicare and Medicaid rules.

      1. Though Trump is generally full of shit, he actually made a point in his tweet about the Electoral College. Under different rules he could have easily picked up a million more votes from New York , Texas and California. Those are huge states. He would only have needed to cut his losses there by a point or two to close the popular vote gap.

        Folks, we have a saying in my business. I want my bad news early and complete. Don’t shoot the messenger.

      2. You are right about that, Chris. Hillary would have been wise to have dealt with her email/server issue ions ago. I don’t like what happened, fear what is coming, but No amount of gnashing my teeth and tears are going to change the outcome. I totally agree on that point. Republicans won, Democrats lost.

      3. “what happens when the government apparatus you built with an eye toward those goals falls into the hands of someone like Donald Trump?”

        So, we’re going to fault big government and not Donald Trump? It’s like saying that big cars cause more damage when they run into people/other cars. Well, sure, but isn’t the driver really the one at fault here? I know that is beyond simplistic, but hopefully there is some benefit to the example. Otherwise, we can be like the gun lobby…we just need more (big cars) so that if we are all driving big cars, we can defend ourselves better due to the same amount of steel surrounding us.

        Big government hardly guarantees perfection but I have not been positively impressed by state government that has used its power poorly either.

        I’d like to know more about your statement that the reason CA and VT didn’t go with single payer was because of medicare and medicaid rules. I’ve not heard this discussed.

      4. It’s pretty obvious that many of us are trying to move past depression into some sort of plausible acceptance. I know I am. I’m angry that our country made what I feel is a poor choice, but it’s done. What now?

        Regarding your comment about the futility of thinking any redress is coming from Congress (for Democrats) – it surely won’t come from red states, and that’s the problem. Do we all move to the west coast to live, knowing women’s choice, minority voting rights, worker benefits, gay and lesbian rights, reasonable medicaid requirements, safety net support, and separation of church and state are not gonna happen in red states? That’s not feasible for most people, so we must find a way to survive. Every article that I’ve read talks about how entitlements and services for the poor will be “different” – a euphemism for “less”. I know we lost the big election but I fail to see why I should have more confidence that the states will be more fair than that big, bad, bloated federal government “was”.

        Reality is hard. You outlined some changes to government in your “Politics of Crazy” that I felt had merit. (Not all, to be honest.) Maybe what we need here is more specificity of what is “bad” about big government that could be “better” delivered at the state level. Maybe the frustration and disagreement is lack of understanding.

      5. Right now, I think our big government and its resources and practices are our protection against Trumpism. Yes, he will make messes. But I think our institutions — now forewarned, we hope — can stand up to any abuses.

      6. I hope you’re right, Bobo. One of the things I have been reading is how Trump plans to “freeze” federal hiring and wants his “own” people in place – which I can understand…however, I would hope he would want to retain enough expertise to allow these institutions to function as well as possible during the transition. After all, institutions are made up of people, and people can make or break institutions. Think Rumsfeld, Cheney, Scalia most recently. Or, further back, Robert McNamara. Fortunately the institutions survived and I am hopeful they will yet.

      7. mime, are you saying we have no resources for fighting Trump initiatives now that Trump is the president-elect?

        Did they go poof! the day after the election?

        I read an interesting comment second-hand from a blogger. An international friend of the blogger said something like, “You Americans treat your country like it’s a football when in reality it’s more like a Faberge egg.”

        Right now the country is indeed being kicked around. That egg may appear delicate, but its beauty and aptitude will withstand this and will prevail.

      8. No, I am not saying that at all. I believe we have limited options with total GOP control, but we have to do what we can as individuals and as a party. Leadership within the Democratic Party has to sort its self out in order to provide focus and organizational structure to help us fight effectively. After all, there is no presidential veto nor Senate over-ride, and possibly not even filibuster opportunity to deny the Republican Party from achieving objectives that are most objectionable. I have been discouraged about what is coming, but believe in the values of the Democratic Party. They are worth fighting for. I wish I could do more. This has been a hard time for all of us who hoped for a different outcome but this is only going to get harder in the months and years ahead. There is so much at stake and thus my opinion that we will have to be selective in our efforts. What specifically that will entail, I don’t know at this juncture – voter suppression, womens’ rights, equality issues, the environment, budget changes that impact the safety net, criminal justice reform – to name a few that are important to me. We can’t concede, we have to fight for the things we believe are important for each of us and for our country’s future.

        Would you agree?

      9. Here is an example of what lies ahead and the planning Republicans are doing right now to be ready to act. They are working provisions of the ACA in their House and Senate budget committees which as budget issues, cannot then be filibustered. They are using parliamentary procedure to avoid rancorous floor fights and very public filibuster opportunities by Democrats. You’ll see this kind of legislative maneuvering up and down the line. This is an incredible opportunity for Republicans and they don’t plan to mess it up.

      10. Heart-broken, yes, panicky, no. I understood/understand what will happen as a result. No blinders. Nothing I can do to change things except vote and contribute financially to those who are in a position to affect change. We’ll see how calm everyone is once these changes start rolling in.

  6. What I admire most about Chris (besides his intelligence) is his never-ending optimism.

    Despite the fact that a “despot” is about to take control of our nation, Chris still sees the positive side of things, and how we as a nation might learn from this experience and come out better than ever.

  7. You said:

    “…giving Mississippi the freedom to do, well, whatever it does.”

    And if Mississippi wants to restrict voting in national elections? De-fund minority schools? Pollute its waterways?

    Are Mississippians not Americans?

    “In its time, “big government” was a crucial ally in the growth of human liberty.”

    In THIS time, Americans’ voting rights are still being constrained. And state citizens would have no recourse without the big federal government.

    I seems to me that deference to federalism — in the form of the electoral college — is one reason we’re in the fix we’re in now.

    You have greater faith in state governments than I do, especially the southern states.

    1. “In its time, “big government” was a crucial ally in the growth of human liberty.”
      Historically, that has been the case, but Chris’s point is that the all-powerful big government could easily become the ENEMY of human liberty, due especially to its very “bigness.”

      The problem is the power that is concentrated in big government. The potential for abuse of power is always there. It all depends on who is in control.

      It could just as easily be about a big bad federal government trying to curtail human liberty in states who are trying to protect liberty.

      That’s why the states were given so much individual power and autonomy, to combat potential abuse coming from an all-powerful federal government.

      1. Really? States are our protection against “big” government? What about the fact that Republicans control the majority of governorships in America as well as both chambers of the state Legislature? I certainly don’t look to LT Gov Dan Patrick or Gov Abbott to represent my concerns when they are in conflict with their own personal beliefs. Oh, but that’s what the vote is all about, right? It doesn’t always work that way.
        Big government may be cumbersome and inefficient in many aspects, but it works to protect the interests of the majority of all Americans. Pare that government down to fit the desires of single party control and states that share the same party affiliation, by, by checks and balance. That’s why I have been so skeptical of plans to block grant medicaid services knowing that states have the authority to determine income eligibility caps ($3600/yr in TX for family of 3) that are designed to exclude rather than help low income people.

        It is easy to throw around the terms “big” government without thinking seriously about what a reduction could mean. There is talk of privitizing the FAA, eliminating the Departments of Education (public ed), Interior (parks), etc. Think that won’t have consequences? Smaller doesn’t automatically mean better or smarter, it just means smaller. Fewer regulations may sound good but most are there for the right purpose – protection of the consumer. There are economies of scale with size and there are always attendant problems within the process. That doesn’t mean you can carve away a large part of a big program/division and get the same or better outcome. I have a fundamental difference with Chris on this point – not because I am unwilling to support change “as improvement”, but because change has to have a higher purpose than simple shrinkage. Absent a check on any aspect of government due to the current majority control across all 3 branches, the protections inherent in the big government we have can fall away leaving we, the people, to accept the will of the majority. We are about to test that reality.
        One of the fundamental tenets of democracy, as I understand it, is it protects the rights of “the least” from being subjugated. We are finally about to witness this process in all aspects of our lives. Once these protections are removed, it is much more difficult to replace them.

      2. Ask yourself this question: given the scenario you just described, how does it help your cause to place greater faith in federal action? If California, NY, IL and similar states are the only places in the country where the Democratic agenda can thrive, aren’t you holding them back, perhaps forever, by waiting for federal government support?

      3. No, I would not hold them back. I wouldn’t want that nor is that what is happening. If you look at the progress these western states are making, it is due to their own initiative – including a receptive electorate and savvy business community. Why can’t this independence of thought and outcome be in sync with a strong federal government? I believe in the democratic system of checks and balance between federal and state government. But think about what we are witnessing today with the RedMap plan that secured control of local and state governments, employed gerrymandering henceforth, thus ensuring security of federal representation. That may be wondrous to behold but without a strong federal presence, there is no means to overturn laws emanating from state level through district courts to Congress or a majority conservative SCOTUS. That is where things are, beginning in Jan, 2017.

        Democrats lost this election. I get that. But I don’t buy that we solve our problems by shifting more power to those which seem to be pretty autocratic as it is….Mississippi and LA notwithstanding. There are fundamental issues in these states that impact the capability of its people to progress. Do you really think that the powers that be in these states welcome an empowered electorate that would disagree with their agenda?

      4. Really? States are our protection against “big” government?
        Yes, theoretically that’s how it’s supposed to be, even though historically, that hasn’t always been the case.

        The tables could be turned at any time, depending on who is in control of the federal government, and in certain cases, one’s state might be the only protection against big bad President Trump and his cohorts.

      5. Tutta, ask women who live in states that are closing women’s health clinics. Minority voters in swing states who no longer have the protection of the Voter’s Rights Act. Children (in TX) who are being denied special education services. Personal account holders in Wells Fargo (and others) who are victims of internal schemes to boost stock prices. Men and women who are hurt on the job and finding changes in workmen’s comp benefits so they have little or no protections from irresponsible management. Gay and lesbian people who can be fired because of their sexual orientation (TX is one of many states that can do this). Poor people who despite working multiple jobs, don’t qualify for medicaid (TX, MS, LA) because income caps are too low. People who live near industrial areas or work in coal or other lung-busting careers who are exposed again and again to noxious fumes.

        States “could” be a protection but they are far assure protection. Examples abound.

      6. Regarding Mississippi, here’s the rest of the story. If all progress has to come from the Federal government, then Mississippi and Alabama and Tennessee all get to have a say too. Whatever California or Massachusetts or Seattle or Chicago want to accomplish has to be vetted through a process that might be killed because too few West Virginians support it.

        At some point we have to decide whether it might make sense to let Seattle build a modern economy with less drag from Memphis and Mobile. Folks in Jackson can get up and move if they want to, but their ability to keep San Francisco moving in a lower gear probably should be curtailed. We can only do that with greater federalism and more local decisionmaking.

      7. I disagree, Chris. States seem to be doing quite well if their populace and per capita income is healthy. How do poorer states survive in this competitive environment? Is your solution to let them slide into oblivium? If KS under Brownback hasn’t taught me anything, it’s that leadership with blind followship seem to feed on one another. We ought to embrace the changes emanating from our West coast, which, to a one, are blue. Any coincidence that the most free-thinking parts of our nation are liberal in political philosophy? That is not to infer there aren’t conservatives there, but the environment for progress is enhanced by liberalization, not constrained.

      8. Chris says: If all progress has to come from the Federal government, then Mississippi and Alabama and Tennessee all get to have a say too


        State governments simply cannot impede the human rights of any American citizens.

        Size of government is a silly discussion because it’s generally philosophical and we all pick our favorite side and defend it with more philosophy.

        Every big government from every big agency from the EPA to the DOT has public feedback built into the process. As is always true about citizenly duties, you can partake or not. The right to bitch about an outcome never goes away, if you don’t partake.

        I think people want solutions that solve problems from governments large and small. This other stuff we do is a sidebar, fun sometimes but not particularly useful.

      9. **State governments simply cannot impede the human rights of any American citizens.**

        No, but voters in those places can. And they did. And they are determined to take that massive, intrusive central government and use the path paved by well-intentioned liberals to leverage that central control to block local efforts to accomplish liberal goals.

        It might have been, and still might be, a good idea to embrace federalism, win small victories, and avoid creating power centers that can, under slightly changed circumstances, be turned against you.

      10. We have just had a mighty tonic of fine electorate choice for POTUS. At the rate we’re going, there won’t be any blue states left….guess then we’ll just crown our POTUS King (no queens allowed) and let the party do the tedious part of governing.

      1. They are not going to “flip” to Clinton under any circumstances. There is a dim possibility that some might vote for a third candidate like Romney or Kasich. If so, they would throw the Presidential vote to the House and the VP vote to the Senate.

      2. Fly, Chris responded…my comment was tongue-in-cheek (as I thought I had made clear). But you did bring up an interesting question, that is – relevance of the Trump u trial….There is a motion on the request to delay trial that is to be heard this week…I simply don’t see how Judge Curiel can delay given that he already afforded the Trump team a delay from the original summer date to after the election….what are they going to do? Keep kicking the trial down the calendar like Repubs did with Obama’s SCOTUS nominee? Is this the new “normal”? As for the turmoil in Trump’s transition, why should anyone be surprised?

  8. Not sure about your use of “a neo-Marxist insistence on central control” as a characteristic of Leftists. For every example you could cite, I’m sure one could find counter-examples where those on the right were just as keen on central control – as long as they were the ones controlling, and/or the control was in line with their preferences.

    Similarly, looking at what Republicans actually did (as against what they talked about) when in office makes one dubious that “the left love(s) big government” (and, by implication, the right doesn’t). See, for example, the growth in Federal employee numbers under Obama vs. Reagan or GWB.

    1. I think Chris would be better off sticking with analyzing conservatives, it damages credibility not merely because a strawman is used, but such a poorly constructed one. I must be one of them liberals he is talking about, but trump has promised to undermine everything I want my big government to do: abortion rights, gun control, ACA. The fact that my govrnment was powerless in fighting off this orange infection makes me wonder if the government should have been even bigger…

      1. Think about that for a minute. Think about an even more intrusive and powerful government. And it’s in the hands of Donald Trump. If this situation doesn’t inspire a rethink about the value of a less-powerful, less ambitious government than nothing will.

      2. Smaller defaults to less powerful? It wouldn’t make any difference which party, when there is total control, size is irrelevant to power. Unchecked, there will be consequential change in the size and scope of government, but fairness is hardly assured. The changes proposed in The Better Way – a GOP plan to shrink government, will largely benefit those who are wealthy and have business interests. The flip side of the coin, social liberties, are a close second to business priorities, but are even more important to me. Once Republicans get through “drowning bureaucracy” and restoring moral control as they want it to be, America will indeed look and function very differently. Better? For whom? Years of experience and protections that have been built in to this “big” government are now political fodder. Friedman supporters and smaller government proponents will have free rein to impose their will. Rules, regulations and oversight can be burdensome and need to be limited, but they exist to protect we, the people from excesses and abuses of those in power – be it government or private sector. Too often change is touted as efficiency when what it really achieves is a transfer of power and authority. I not only do not trust the agenda of the GOPe, I do not trust the people in charge – including those who are sucking up to DJT in order to fulfill their conservative dreams.

      3. The founding fathers had just came off of defeating an abusive government when they drew up a confederacy type of government.That prove too weak to govern the nation and address it’s problem. Deeply suspicious of everyone they constructed a new government, a Republic , but weak and deeply fragmented in the sharing of power so a despot (demagogue) could not take over and take their freedom. The original reason for the electoral college was so season and experience men could save the nation from an unwise choice selecting the president. The way states were assign electoral votes was a compromise that small states wanted to keep the large states from completely controlling who became president. Seems to be working in reverse this century as two times the electoral vote elected the one who lost the popular vote. Trump maybe the test on how well the founders design. He has no loyalty to either party and maybe able to broker deals that others could not with his worst tendency tempered and constrained. We have been though the war of 1812, the Civil War, the Great Depression, World War Two , the Cold War and the Great Recession. I do not think Trump is anywhere near the danger point of where we were during those time. I do not want a large intrusive government . But we are social critters and must work together to survive. Today our environment is much more complex and diverse than when the Constitution was drawn up. Some tweaking is needed to insure freedom but also the cooperation needed for corporate survival. The same question remains that our ancestors faced. How to create a government powerful enough to do governing needed for society to survive and yet allow the maximum choice and opportunity for each individual.

      4. I share your opinion that our Constitution should be considered a “living” document. Unfortunately, our next SC appointee may not agree. Justice Scalia’s view that the Constitution should be strictly enforced is diametrically opposed to your views and my own.

      5. Chris, dulling a knife in order to make it impossible to hurt yourself also makes it a useless knife. Neutering the government to the point where even a man like trump can’t do any harm also makes it powerless to perform the functions I’d like.

  9. I no longer worry about Donald Trump. He will either succeed beyond our wildest, very low expectations, or he will crash and burn. The fall out from that scenario doesn’t worry me nearly as much as unchecked power of total government control by the Republican Party. Thus, I am coming at the issue not from decentralization but from fear of absolute control, which I find much more dangerous to Democracy than to how large or how small the resulting structure ends up being.

    As for opportunities to marry leaner government with a smarter agenda, that will be tough when one of the biggest challenges we have facing us is global warming….which not only DJT but the entire, koolaid-imbibing GOP deny. At some point, there has to be commonality of issues before there can be commonality of purpose. When the locus of The Better Way awards the largest tax cuts to the most wealthy essentially paid for by cuts to those who are most needy, that’s a bad start. When programs that tend our elderly, disabled, out of work, poor are being block-granted or voucherized to states by local control of Republican Parties that has little interest in thiese people, that’s a bad start. When equality and liberty are expendable, that’s a bad start.

    Still, we have to start somewhere but we must also recognize that the “we” in this scenario will not include those who embrace Democratic Party values. The “We” are the people who won and there is nothing to incentivize them to deviate from a self-serving, party-focused agenda. There’s simply no need. I’d like to believe that our GOP brethren are interested in finding a way to pursue their goals while being sensitive and responsive to the needs and interests of those outside their red wall, but I am not encouraged. There are too many red flags – figuratively and literally. It does little good to shoot the messenger but neither should we ignore the danger.

    About all who stand outside the looming red wall can hope for is that reason will somehow emerge, such as Chris has suggested, even though I honestly don’t think there’s any interest on the part of the dominant party in this regard.

    Here are two examples of illogical and logical thinking that illustrate how this new reality may manifest itself. Link #1 profiles one approach. Link #2, of course, is infinitely more interesting to me. If I were in charge of the Democratic Party, I’d hire the post-doctoral student who wrote the NR piece and put him in charge. I wouldn’t count on the GOPe to be generous or interested in anyone or anything other than their own agenda and base; rather, I’d expect them to say: “losing has consequences.” So does winning.

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