Blogs: The Skeptics

Bill Kristol Has Another Bad Idea

Conservative Hypocrisy on Local Power

The Skeptics

One can cite an example from three decades ago about how the alleged conservative commitment to keeping power close to the people is more illusion than reality. In the early 1980s, the United States had a patchwork of laws regarding the minimum age for consuming alcoholic beverages. They ranged from 18 to 21, with numerous variations in between. Neo-prohibitionists, led by Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (Later Mothers Against Drunk Driving) (MADD) led a national campaign to impose a nationwide minimum age of 21.

One might have thought that ideological conservatives would have resented and staunchly resisted such a blatant effort to transfer considerable power to the federal government over matters that had traditionally come under the authority of state and local governments. One would have been wrong. MADD not only won over the conservative Reagan administration, it won the endorsement of a major portion of conservatives in Congress. The weapon that Congress passed and the Reagan administration used to implement the new policy was the threat to withhold federal highway dollars from noncomplying states—a tactic that conservatives routinely condemned when used on other issues.

Given such a lengthy track record, it is clear that conservatives favor keeping power vested in governments closest to the people only when they are confident their policies will prevail at that level. Conversely, if they fear their policies will be rejected, they are just as willing as so-called progressives to see the alleged virtues of robust governmental power. They will embrace whatever level of government gives them and their policies home field advantage.

Ted Galen Carpenter is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and a contributing editor at The National Interest.

Image: Moral Monday demonstrators in North Carolina. Photo by –ted, CC BY 2.0.

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The Days of Perpetual War Must End

The Skeptics

One can cite an example from three decades ago about how the alleged conservative commitment to keeping power close to the people is more illusion than reality. In the early 1980s, the United States had a patchwork of laws regarding the minimum age for consuming alcoholic beverages. They ranged from 18 to 21, with numerous variations in between. Neo-prohibitionists, led by Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (Later Mothers Against Drunk Driving) (MADD) led a national campaign to impose a nationwide minimum age of 21.

One might have thought that ideological conservatives would have resented and staunchly resisted such a blatant effort to transfer considerable power to the federal government over matters that had traditionally come under the authority of state and local governments. One would have been wrong. MADD not only won over the conservative Reagan administration, it won the endorsement of a major portion of conservatives in Congress. The weapon that Congress passed and the Reagan administration used to implement the new policy was the threat to withhold federal highway dollars from noncomplying states—a tactic that conservatives routinely condemned when used on other issues.

Given such a lengthy track record, it is clear that conservatives favor keeping power vested in governments closest to the people only when they are confident their policies will prevail at that level. Conversely, if they fear their policies will be rejected, they are just as willing as so-called progressives to see the alleged virtues of robust governmental power. They will embrace whatever level of government gives them and their policies home field advantage.

Ted Galen Carpenter is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and a contributing editor at The National Interest.

Image: Moral Monday demonstrators in North Carolina. Photo by –ted, CC BY 2.0.

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How Bad Is Trump’s Brand of Authoritarianism?

The Skeptics

One can cite an example from three decades ago about how the alleged conservative commitment to keeping power close to the people is more illusion than reality. In the early 1980s, the United States had a patchwork of laws regarding the minimum age for consuming alcoholic beverages. They ranged from 18 to 21, with numerous variations in between. Neo-prohibitionists, led by Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (Later Mothers Against Drunk Driving) (MADD) led a national campaign to impose a nationwide minimum age of 21.

One might have thought that ideological conservatives would have resented and staunchly resisted such a blatant effort to transfer considerable power to the federal government over matters that had traditionally come under the authority of state and local governments. One would have been wrong. MADD not only won over the conservative Reagan administration, it won the endorsement of a major portion of conservatives in Congress. The weapon that Congress passed and the Reagan administration used to implement the new policy was the threat to withhold federal highway dollars from noncomplying states—a tactic that conservatives routinely condemned when used on other issues.

Given such a lengthy track record, it is clear that conservatives favor keeping power vested in governments closest to the people only when they are confident their policies will prevail at that level. Conversely, if they fear their policies will be rejected, they are just as willing as so-called progressives to see the alleged virtues of robust governmental power. They will embrace whatever level of government gives them and their policies home field advantage.

Ted Galen Carpenter is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and a contributing editor at The National Interest.

Image: Moral Monday demonstrators in North Carolina. Photo by –ted, CC BY 2.0.

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Fallujah: ISIS's Latest Failure

The Skeptics

One can cite an example from three decades ago about how the alleged conservative commitment to keeping power close to the people is more illusion than reality. In the early 1980s, the United States had a patchwork of laws regarding the minimum age for consuming alcoholic beverages. They ranged from 18 to 21, with numerous variations in between. Neo-prohibitionists, led by Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (Later Mothers Against Drunk Driving) (MADD) led a national campaign to impose a nationwide minimum age of 21.

One might have thought that ideological conservatives would have resented and staunchly resisted such a blatant effort to transfer considerable power to the federal government over matters that had traditionally come under the authority of state and local governments. One would have been wrong. MADD not only won over the conservative Reagan administration, it won the endorsement of a major portion of conservatives in Congress. The weapon that Congress passed and the Reagan administration used to implement the new policy was the threat to withhold federal highway dollars from noncomplying states—a tactic that conservatives routinely condemned when used on other issues.

Given such a lengthy track record, it is clear that conservatives favor keeping power vested in governments closest to the people only when they are confident their policies will prevail at that level. Conversely, if they fear their policies will be rejected, they are just as willing as so-called progressives to see the alleged virtues of robust governmental power. They will embrace whatever level of government gives them and their policies home field advantage.

Ted Galen Carpenter is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and a contributing editor at The National Interest.

Image: Moral Monday demonstrators in North Carolina. Photo by –ted, CC BY 2.0.

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