Ask an everyday citizen about politics in Washington and that person will tell you that it is bitterly polarized. ?Back to the old days!? citizens decry, to when bipartisanship was a respected feature of a Congressman.
There is a general belief that hardly anything productive gets done in Washington except excessive spending of taxpayer dollars.
The deficit has skyrocketed, and many feel there is little to show for it. Voter participation has remained low which can be attributed to individuals? general lack of faith in any representative.
However, a greater faith in government could be attained if that government were local. It is hard to conceptualize what $20 million federal dollars does for Program X across the country, or the true impact of $500 million of foreign aid but relate that money to your local school board or public transportation system, and it becomes much clearer.
The founding fathers favored strong state independence from an overbearing federal government. Their overriding principle, federalism, was designed for that exact purpose.
And yet America has simply shrugged and continued humming along as the expanding national government?s arm strangles those state rights.
A central point of debate in this issue of the expanding federal role has been, and remains, the 1973 Supreme Court case Roe vs. Wade.
Using the First, Fourth, Fifth and Ninth Amendments and using the incorporating power of the Fourteenth Amendment, the court, in this landmark case, determined that the right to privacy was ?broad enough to encompass a woman?s decision whether to terminate her pregnancy.?
This 7-2 decision took away the discretionary power of the states and overturned the Texas law which had previously outlawed abortion.
With John Roberts and Samuel Alito as Chief Justice and Associate Justice on the Supreme Court, conservatives feel this might be the chance to roll back some of that federal power.
To re-spark this issue, Governor Michael Rounds of South Dakota has passed into law a sweeping ban on abortion.
Opponents of the bill have come out strongly against it, claiming that it clearly violates the Supreme Court precedent. Advocates, however, argue that the precedent from the Supreme Court has been based on an invented right. Worse yet, the right, which has been made federal domain, unfairly took powers from the states. For decades now, there has been a movement to overturn this case.
I am not advocating overturning the landmark case for purposes outlawing abortion; I advocate its reversal as a proponent of the federalist system in an effort to return more power back to the states.
What people don?t understand is that overturning Roe vs. Wade will not make abortions illegal. In fact, in many liberal states, the rights to an abortion may be expanded well beyond what they are now. Even many conservative states will never completely outlaw abortion, as South Dakota is attempting; however, extreme cases, such as South Dakota, are often needed to bring the issue to light.
Regardless of whether South Dakota is sincere that abortions should be completely outlawed or whether it is simply relighting a fire, this is the way the system should work. States should be the laboratories of experiment for this country because they are able to represent more equitably their own populations.
Some people may be wary of differing state laws, but how can we expect the people of California and Washington to be ideologically similar to those in Utah or any state in the Deep South? Is it not more unrealistic to group these people together than to allow them to separate? After all, criminal laws, speed limits and even many educational policies are left to the states.
Honestly, abortion should not be the central point of this debate at all. No one is advocating more of them. The real debate should be the best method of approach toward them.
This will involve a better educational system, emphasizing safe practices and appropriate societal influences, and a stronger federalist system that allows for these methods to be effectively tested.
The states, and worse yet the people, lost a great chunk of self-defining identity three decades ago when the Supreme Court found a new Constitutional right.
While South Dakota?s attempt to revitalize the issue may not implement the best approach, at least it refuses to quietly accept further encroachment upon states? rights. Hopefully, for the sake of all parties involved, the Supreme Court will revisit the issue and give back to the people of each state the real right to choose.