As an organization married to principles, not politics or politicians, we at the Independence Institute have it easy. We stand unequivocally for the ideals presented in the Declaration of Independence – the document that inspired our name. Part of my job as head of the Institute is to lead the fight for free markets, individual liberty, and limited government. Part of that last principle about limiting government is adhering to the 10th Amendment – even when inconvenient! What I mean is that even when a state does something stupid like RomneyCare, we should respect that state’s right to conduct a failing experiment for all to see. After all, the federal government has specific, enumerated powers and for everything else, it’s up to the states. Likewise, when states like ours and California legalize pot for medical use, we need to respect the experiment. Now I’m not saying that we can’t criticize a state’s experiment or that states don’t have bad ideas. Lord knows I’ve criticized Romney and his socialized medicine experiment ad nauseam. What it does mean is that we must fight on behalf of the state against federal overreach. We must take a stand for limited and enumerated powers at the federal level. Otherwise, the feds just have a blank check.
We conservatives make the case day in and day out that the feds are constantly overstepping their bounds. One way in which they do that is precisely this case – trampling on states that exercise their 10th amendment rights. In most cases we fight back in unison. But in cases where we don’t like the state law or don’t agree with the policy, many on our side fail to speak up on behalf of the state. Take for instance medical marijuana. Like it or not, our state can and has made medical pot legal. Whether you agree with that or not only makes a difference in your criticism of our STATE law. It should have no bearing on whether you stand up for Colorado against the feds.
Take a look at this: Our Colorado delegation voted recently on whether to continue funding the federal government’s war against the legal medical pot industries in states like ours. A principled defender of the 10th Amendment would vote against funding federal encroachment on state affairs. Unfortunately, our Colorado Republican delegation all voted FOR funding the federal war (Colorado dems voted against). Medical pot advocates have rightly pointed out the Republican hypocrisy regarding their “love” for the 10th Amendment as simply “selective.” I could not agree more. It is selective.
It’s very simple folks: the 10th Amendment applies universally – even for state laws you don’t like. Go ahead and criticize state laws if they are bad. But please stand up for our state when the feds decide that their prerogative reigns supreme over our state law when we have jurisdiction. The states created the federal government, not the other way around.