Imagine you live in a three-bedroom house. One bedroom is occupied by an unruly tenant. He plays loud music all night long, eats all your food, uses up all your hot water. This tenant has a habit of inviting people over at all of hours of the day and night, such that you have no control over your property and your possessions.
In such a scenario, it wouldn’t take you long to figure you’ve a got problem. You’d realize there are better ways to use your property, and you’d act quickly. Maybe it’s time to evict your renter, or greatly restrict his access to your property and belongings.
The house, in this metaphor, is the state, and the unruly tenant is the federal government. The federal government occupies one-third of Idaho’s budget, and there are serious questions about: whether that third is being put to the greatest use; whether our state’s residents are better off playing host to the federal government and programs that fail to deliver on their promises; and whether all the hoops and hurdles the federal government makes us endure to comply with its mandates are worth the time, energy and cost.
National politics are important, as is keeping a watchful eye on the presidential election. I have my preference for which of the candidates will best serve the future of our country, as do we all. But the outcome of the presidential election is only part of a long and complicated question about the future of our country. Too often, we put local and state politics and policy on autopilot, or we ignore it altogether, because we’re too busy navigating the choppy waters of national governance — who controls the White House, the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.
It’s up to us to also keep a watchful, vigilant eye on our state governments, the separate, independent entities that perform a vital function in keeping the federal government in check. Our state governments, including Idaho, have done a woeful job in this regard. States have become administrative units of the federal government, whose sole job is to secure federal grants and administer federal government programs, no matter how odious we might believe them to be. This has been the course under both Republican and Democrat administrations.
If you hate the EPA, you’ll be shocked and perhaps horrified to learn that a tremendous amount of the state Department of Environmental Quality’s job is to enforce federal environmental policies and regulations. If you dislike the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and its federal socialistic programs, you’ll be saddened to find out that much of what the state Department of Health and Welfare does is administer HHS’ mandates, programs and policies.
Yes, the presidential election is important, and who wins will have a lasting impact on freedom, or lack thereof, in America. But the true safety net has always rested with our state representatives and senators. They play a vital role in determining the future of our state, as well as the health and viability of our country. These elected officials play an important role in pushing back against a tyrannical federal-government machine.
The presidential election is mercifully at an end. Whether your candidate won or lost, whomever is in the White House for the next four years, the real battle for the country is only just beginning, right here in our state capitols.