Can you name the Vice President of the United States? How about the two U.S. Senators in your state? All members of Congress (or at least your own district’s representative)? Governor? If you’re reading this, chances are good that you can easily answer these questions because you’re at least a little interested in politics.

How about your Mayor? Any or all city council members? School board members? County Auditor? Unfortunately, this is where many Americans start to fail the test. Admittedly, I would have failed the test a couple of years ago. Like many Americans, I voted for local elections based upon name recognition, party affiliation, or whether or not I’d received a flyer or received a knock on my door. I spoke to a woman the other day who said she voted for whoever had a sign in her next-door neighbor’s yard because “that lady keeps up with this stuff.”

Every American should keep up with this stuff. It’s THAT important.

When I started flirting with the idea of leaving the GOP last year, I explored several third parties. I sat on conference calls with leaders of one party, had an audience with the chair of another, and spoke directly to three third-party Presidential candidates. Invariably, the discussions were discouraging. It wasn’t that they didn’t have good ideas. It was that only one party could answer an important question: “What are you guys doing to win local elections?”

They were all sinking time, money, and energy into getting their Presidential candidate on ballots, but only one party was actively running in local elections. They made it clear that they weren’t actually giving much support to local candidates, but at least a few people were willing to use their party’s name a registration to run for office. I tracked back to see how many elections they’d won over the years. 13, including two in 2016. How could a party that was sinking all of their resources into a futile Presidential race think it was okay to put next to zero effort into local elections?

This is why I helped form the Federalist Party.

Local elections ARE important. They don’t get the press coverage. The people who win these offices can’t bomb Syria or impose tariffs on Canada. On the other hand, they make decisions that directly affect our lives. They choose the way many of our children receive their education. They set guidelines to either encourage or discourage business growth. Some bring communities together. Others divide communities further apart. It’s imperative that we all start paying closer attention to the races and leaders that live next door. That’s not to say the people in DC are not important, but they receive too much emphasis compared to the politicians in our own backyards.

As a party, we intend to focus on local elections from two perspectives. First, we want to identify principled candidates and win local races. Then, we want to localize decision-making as much as possible for the nation. There is currently way too much influence coming from DC in areas they’re simply not qualified or empowered to addressed.

There are areas in which the federal government should hold the power. These have been clearly enumerated. It’s time to return the rest of the power of government where it belongs: states, counties, cities, communities, and most importantly to individual Americans.

Today, President Trump had what a majority of Americans would consider to be a successful foreign policy day. His tone when speaking about terrorism to the core of the Muslim world in the Middle East was generally approved; the left liked that he didn’t go off the rails and the right witnessed a breath of fresh air after eight years of failure to even acknowledge the problem.

Not everyone was excited by his message, but conservatives should be able to agree that he sounded exponentially better than President Obama. He didn’t call it “radical Islamic terrorism” but he wasn’t making excuses for them, either. Most importantly, he urged Muslim countries themselves to take the lead on expelling and extinguishing the threat; there were no Neocon or Establishment hawk leanings towards police action by America.

Now, his and the world’s attentions turn to Israel where he has the greatest foreign policy opportunity as well as the biggest potential letdown for those of us who consider Israel to be our most important strategic ally. His trip to the Jewish state will set in motion his agenda in the Middle East. After success in Saudi Arabia, any failure from a diplomatic perspective will be magnified. There are already people on the right attacking his implicit support for Saudi Arabia’s most heinous activities. If he doesn’t follow that up with an equally strong (or stronger) level of support for Israel, the comparisons to Obama’s policies on the Middle East will grow louder.

Will he move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem? Preliminary reports tell us they won’t, but this is President Trump so you never know what will happen until it does.

Can he avoid public conflict over allegedly revealing sensitive Israeli intelligence to the Russians? We can assume any dismay from the Israelis or reassurances from the President will happen behind closed doors, so this is likely a non-topic during this trip as far as the public is concerned.

Pre-1967 borders have suddenly entered the equation since the White House released a video showing Israel without the “occupied” territories as part of their lands. This may be played off as an intern’s mistake or it may become an issue.

The BDS movement will be discussed. It’s an issue that should bring unification between the administration and Israeli leaders, particularly as he will undoubtedly point out how the movement hurts Muslims as much or more than it hurts Jews.

Lastly, will there be any talks of a two-state solution? If it happens during the Israel trip, it will push this portion of his agenda to the forefront and we can expect repercussions from many on the American right as well as an adversarial situation in Israel itself. This is unlikely, but again, it’s Trump so you never know.

If President Trump makes it out of Saudi Arabia and Israel with both allies feeling good about their relationship with America, Trump will be set up for success. If Israel turns south on the President, this could be the start of a foreign policy disaster that will likely spiral throughout his term(s).

I’ve never been a huge fan of Ann Coulter. While politically I am aligned with many of her perspectives, she struck me as more sensational for the sake of being a sensation than as a person truly interested in helping to solve America’s problems. When she did a 180 on many GOP Presidential candidates she once supported to be an early adopter of Donald Trump’s campaign, I realized my suspicions were correct. She embraces perceived boldness over solid policy.

This is why I was pleasantly surprised when she started calling out Trump recently. When a public figure puts so much political capital into someone, they are inclined to continue even when things turn south. The budget deal hit her hard and she lashed out against Trump. With all the hoopla surrounding the way the President may or may not have handled James Comey, Michael Flynn, Israeli intelligence with the Russians, and even potential tapes made of conversations, we’re seeing many people both public and private doing backflips to spin it as conspiracy theory or standard MSM manipulation.

Here’s the thing: there are conspiracy theories out there that are crazy and the mainstream media is going to manipulate things against the GOP. That doesn’t justify taking attention away from clear missteps and poor decisions by the administration. Nobody should be a willful puppet for anyone else, particularly a politician.

For full disclosure, I’m a founding member of the Federalist Party. I’m no longer the GOP-apologist that I may have been earlier in life. On the other hand, I’m not one who will attack from every angle just because it behooves me to do so for my party. I’ll call it like I see it. When the administration does well, I’ll cheer. When they do poorly, I’ll dissent. That’s just how I work.

I would strongly encourage other conservatives to operate in the same fashion. The left is going to exploit every situation to their advantage. It may be considered prudent for us to follow the same gameplan, but we’re supposed to be better than that. We have a higher road we can take. We defend the Constitution and we stand by our principles. Those are two things that should be strongly embedded in everyone who believes in a small-government, conservative, federalist philosophy.

President Trump is an icon to millions of Americans. Every president is and Trump adds a certain flair that encourages loyalty. Let’s not allow that loyalty to cloud our judgment. If we give the Constitution and conservative principles the primacy they deserve in our political perspectives, no politicians should be above reproach when they go off course. Call it like it is. Leave the spin to the left. It’s really their only tool.

I really like credit cards. Every card in my wallet has purposes based upon rewards, limits, and due dates. The dollar bills in my wallet are probably the same bills I’ve had in there for weeks because I use cards for everything. Controlling expenditures and making certain my family is covered when life events pop up make credit cards an important tool in my fiscal planning.

The reason I don’t run into trouble with credit cards is that I never buy anything I couldn’t comfortably buy with money in the bank and I always pay in full before the statement is released. In the last decade, I could probably count on two hands (maybe one) the number of times I paid interest on a credit card balance. This is how credit cards are supposed to be used, in my humble opinion.

Where millions of Americans get into trouble from time to time is when they overextend themselves with their credit cards. Some look at their available credit as available cash to spend. Others calculate their monthly bills based upon the minimum payments on their cards and can’t wait until they pay the balances down to a point where they can spend on them again. Many lack disciple. Others lack knowledge. This is why otherwise responsible people around the country end up filing bankruptcy or some other form of debt relief.

Americans who are in trouble with credit card debt are each microcosms of the fiscal status of the United States federal government. Washington DC has been paying off credit cards with other credit cards, transferring balances when it doesn’t make sense, and manufacturing more credit cards because their old ones are maxed out. The interest alone on our $20 trillion debt is more than many countries’ GDPs. This is untenable and unsustainable.

When an individual gets into major credit trouble, the first thing they should do is stop spending on anything that’s not absolutely necessary. While I’m not a proponent of literally cutting up credit cards, it’s important for those with debt issues to pretend like there’s no money that can be spent on anything other than essentials while they do everything they can to pay down their balances.

We’re well past the time for the U.S. government to take the same approach. They need to tighten the belt in a big way and take the necessary actions to embrace fiscal responsibility for the first time in decades.

There’s a challenge with this. One of the reasons not mentioned above that some people get into deep credit card debt is addiction. There are those who are simply addicted to spending, shopping, buying, whatever. Even when they know they’re drowning in debt, they continue to make it harder to swim by continuing to spend. This is the problem with both major parties right now. They have this belief that if they go down the fiscally responsible route and start slashing the budget, they’re going to lose elections as a result. They feel they need to essentially buy votes by continuing to fund programs that are unnecessary. They believe they’ll gain votes by spending more of our tax dollars on departments, agencies, programs, and subsidies that get people pumped up because they’re the direct benefactors. A cruel but accurate way of presenting the current mentality of most DC politicians is that they think we’re all too stupid to understand the mess they’re building and we’re so simple that if they give us things, we’ll vote for them.

Ted Cruz demonstrated that this isn’t necessarily the case when he won the Iowa Republican Caucus. Most pundits thought he was dead in the water when he said he intended to pull the ethanol subsidies that helped many farmers in Iowa. Donald Trump and just about every other candidate doubled down on keeping the funds flowing in abundance, but Cruz said no. What did everyone other than Cruz get wrong about Iowa? They all thought the only way to get votes was to buy them. Iowans demonstrated that many Americans aren’t as simple-minded as politicians often think.

Unfortunately, that lesson will be marked down as an anomaly by the two major parties. The Democrats will push even further to the left in an effort to bring real socialism and even communist principles of government control over everything. The Republicans will continue to redefine “conservatism” by telling us it’s okay to spend more as long as the expenditures are justified. Of course, justification is easy for the GOP to manufacturer on pretty much any topic. That’s why they don’t have to blink when they attempt to replace Obamacare with Trumpcare. It’s why they can proudly accept Chuck Schumer’s and Donald Trump’s trillion-dollar infrastructure dreams. It’s why they scream loudly when they cut some budget from the EPA while hiding the asterisk in small print at the bottom that admits the money “saved” is simply being redirected to fund other programs.

I don’t recommend for individuals with credit card debt to literally cut up their credit cards because the scale is usually manageable and bankruptcy is an option when the scale is too large. However, I definitely recommend cutting up as many of the U.S. government’s credit cards as possible. They have too many and have demonstrated a complete inability to control themselves. It’s an addiction. They’re beyond the ability to even make the minimum payments which is why we’ve needed “stimulus” packages for the last two Presidents and we may see another one from the current President in the not-too-distant future.

Republicans are right in one regard. It’s time to redefine conservatism, just not the way many of them are hoping. Steve Deace over at Conservative Review brought some points to light in his article earlier this week titled “Needed: A new conservatism.” One of the things he touched on was the Federalist Party, of which I am a part. Here’s what he said:

A wise man once said something about the foolishness of pouring new wine into old wineskins. After all, this country is a living example that once paradigms embrace corruption, independence from the corruption must be declared, whether it is the Pilgrims fleeing corruption on the Mayflower or the Founding Fathers loading their muskets to stand up to it. Therefore, as students of history, if we’re going to spend years changing the paradigm, choose the strategy history says has the best chance of success — something new. Besides, wasn’t the Republican Party itself originally founded by those who fled the corruption within its predecessor, the Whig Party? This is the rationale behind the effort to launch the Federalist Party.

With the GOP in full control in DC, one of two things needs to happen. Either they get their act together and start reining in the power, bureaucracy, and out-of-control budgets that have been growing incessantly for decades or they need to admit they’re no longer a party that embraces smaller government. Unless things turn around very quickly, the latter is the only viable possibility. We know they won’t admit it, but the real question is whether or not conservatives are going to call them out on it or continue to fall for the same tired sales pitch.

The fist bumps coming from the GOP after passing the American Health Care Act in the House were plentiful. Republicans around the country were giving each other high-fives for having finally made the first real steps towards repealing Obamacare. Here’s the problem. We haven’t seen the beginning of the repeal of Obamacare. We’ve seen the seeds of Trumpcare being planted. Perhaps the better name for it would be “Obamacarelite.”

This a repeal in name only. Congressman Justin Amash revealed the truth about the AHCA in a Facebook post yesterday (emphases are mine):

This is not the bill we promised the American people. For the past seven years, Republicans have run for Congress on a commitment to repeal Obamacare. But it is increasingly clear that a bill to repeal Obamacare will not come to the floor in this Congress or in the foreseeable future.

When Republican leaders first unveiled the American Health Care Act, a Democratic friend and colleague joked to me that the bill wasn’t a new health care proposal; it was plagiarism. He was right.

The AHCA repeals fewer than 10 percent of the provisions in the Affordable Care Act. It is an amendment to the ACA that deliberately maintains Obamacare’s framework. It reformulates but keeps tax credits to subsidize premiums. Instead of an individual mandate to purchase insurance, it mandates a premium surcharge of 30 percent for one year following a lapse of coverage. And the bill continues to preserve coverage for dependents up to age 26 and people with pre-existing conditions.

I want to emphasize that last point. The bill does not change the ACA’s federal requirements on guaranteed issue (prohibition on policy denial), essential health benefits (minimum coverage), or community rating (prohibition on pricing based on health status). In short, Obamacare’s pre-existing conditions provisions are retained.

The latest version of the AHCA does allow any state to seek a waiver from certain insurance mandates, but such waivers are limited in scope. Guaranteed issue cannot be waived. Nobody can be treated differently based on gender. And any person who has continuous coverage—no lapse for more than 62 days—cannot be charged more regardless of health status.

Consider what this means: Even in a state that waives as much as possible, a person with a pre-existing condition cannot be prevented from purchasing insurance at the same rate as a healthy person. The only requirement is that the person with the pre-existing condition get coverage—any insurer, any plan—within 62 days of losing any prior coverage.

If a person chooses not to get coverage within 62 days, then that person can be charged more (or less) based on health status for up to one year, but only (1) in lieu of the 30 percent penalty (see above), (2) if the person lives in a state that has established a program to assist individuals with pre-existing conditions, and (3) if that state has sought and obtained the relevant waiver. Here in Michigan, our Republican governor has already stated he won’t seek such a waiver, according to reports.

So why are both parties exaggerating the effects of this bill? For President Trump and congressional Republicans, the reason is obvious: They have long vowed to repeal (and replace) Obamacare, and their base expects them to get it done. For congressional Democrats, it’s an opportunity to scare and energize their base in anticipation of 2018. Neither side wants to present the AHCA for what it is—a more limited proposal to rework and reframe parts of the ACA, for better or for worse.

In March, when this bill was originally scheduled to come to the floor, it was certainly “for worse.” The previous version provided few clear advantages over the ACA, yet it haphazardly added provisions to modify essential health benefits without modifying community rating—placing the sickest and most vulnerable at greater risk.

Over the last month, several small but important changes were made to the bill. The current version abandons that fatally flawed approach to essential health benefits (though the new approach includes new flaws), incorporates an invisible risk sharing program, and permits limited state waivers. These changes may slightly bring down (or at least slow down the increase in) premiums for people who have seen rates go up. Even so, the AHCA becomes only marginally better than the ACA.

Many have questioned the process that led up to the vote on May 4. I have publicly expressed my disgust with it. The House again operated in top-down fashion rather than as a deliberative body that respects the diversity of its membership. But it’s important to acknowledge that the bulk of this bill (123 pages) was released on March 6. Only about 15 pages were added after late March. Members of Congress were given sufficient time to read and understand the entire bill.

While an earlier version of the AHCA included a CBO score, the types of changes made to the AHCA in more recent stages render an updated score highly speculative and practically meaningless. For that score to be useful, the Congressional Budget Office would have to effectively predict which states will seek waivers, which waivers they will seek, and when they will seek them. This complex analysis of the political processes and choices of every state is beyond anyone’s capability. I weighed the lack of an updated score accordingly.

When deciding whether to support a bill, I ask myself whether the bill improves upon existing law, not whether I would advocate for the policy or program if I were starting with a blank slate. In other words, the proper analysis is not whether it makes the law good but rather whether it makes the law better. In this case, I felt comfortable advancing the bill to the Senate as a marginal improvement to the ACA. The House has voted more than 30 times to amend (not just repeal) Obamacare since I’ve been in Congress, and I have supported much of that legislation, too, on the principle of incrementalism. If it advances liberty even a little (on net), then I’m a yes.

Nonetheless, the ACA will continue to drive up the cost of health insurance—while bolstering the largest insurance companies—and the modifications contained in the AHCA cannot save it. Many of the AHCA’s provisions are poorly conceived or improperly implemented. At best, it will make Obamacare less bad.

The Framers of the Constitution understood that federalism—the division of powers between the national and state governments—would maximize the happiness of Americans. As long as Washington dictates health insurance policy to the entire country, there will be massive tension and displeasure with the system. I’ve always said, and I will continue to say, we need to start over: Fully repeal Obamacare, let the people of each state choose their own approach, and work together in a nonpartisan manner.

The Congressman is correct when he says that it’s his duty to decide whether or not a bill is an improvement on existing law. However, one should also consider whether it’s possible for the law to be dramatically improved with more effort put towards bigger or smaller changes. In this case, I believe Amash would have voted against the bill if he believed there was a full repeal possible. He and the Freedom Caucus weighed the possibilities and decided that this was the best they were going to get. It was right move from a legislative perspective, but it also reinvigorates the necessity for the Federalist Party to rise.

It’s a shame that small-government-minded representatives are forced to pick between the lesser of two evils. Millions of voters can relate to this circumstance as we’re often faced with picking between Mr. Big Gov or his opponent, Mrs. Bigger Gov. As long as the two-party system holds primacy over all potential challengers, we will always be faced with this obtuse binary choice. The time for change is now.

The House just sent the American Health Care Act to the Senate. From there, it’ll face a tougher fight through Senate revisions before reaching the President’s desk. For the the first time in seven years, the prospects of repealing Obamacare are actually pretty high. Republicans around the nation are cheering. Democrats are spinning it as a call to retake Congress in 2018.

Most of my friends are Republicans, as are most of the readers on this site. I support their desire to rid the nation of the abomination of Obamacare. I also respect the need to put the GOP stamp of approval on a replacement plan. Heck, there are a couple of things in the AHCA that I don’t mind; it’s a slight improvement over the ACA.

One thing I wholeheartedly disagree with is the notion that the AHCA is a step towards smaller government. This does nothing to rein in DC. It keeps the national government firmly entrenched in an area where it absolutely, positively does not belong. By doing so, it prevents the free market from helping millions of Americans by driving down health insurance costs. It adjusts the mandate by shifting the penalty, but the mandate remains nonetheless. It gives states the option to opt out of pre-existing conditions, yet no state will actually use this option. Why? Because by giving the AHCA the GOP stamp of approval, any hope of educating people on the vast negatives associated with the pre-existing conditions clause have evaporated.

It isn’t just the AHCA. Look at the spending package that keeps the government funding President Obama’s sustained laundry list of programs. Look at pushes for huge infrastructure spending. Look at every big government program that is not facing extinction despite the GOP having full control in DC.

As a Federalist, I look at today’s GOP the same way many politically savvy conservatives view it: better than the Democrats. After the rise and fall of the Tea Party as well as a short-term spike in conservatives winning primaries over moderates, we’ve seen the status quo of the Establishment reaffirmed in 2017. The AHCA is just the latest example.

These are unpopular notions to be posting on sites that are supportive of the Republican Party, but I’m not alone in my dissent. Conservative pundits and Federalism-minded journalists around the nation are speaking out.

Ben Shapiro at Daily Wire notes:

On Thursday, House Republicans prepared to take final ownership over Obamacare, slapping a giant “T” atop the edifice of legislative manure and declaring victory. This follows Republicans embracing Barack Obama’s budget priorities in their newest budget bill, which did not fund Trump’s wall but did fund refugee resettlement, Planned Parenthood, and Obamacare. Republicans have apparently become the David Copperfield of garbage: they can take Obama’s garbage and turn it into Trump’s garbage right before your eyes!

Mark Levin has been very critical of the GOP on his show lately:

“Too many conservatives have simply accepted as effective power the minor concession of the progressives” as they “drive the political and cultural agenda,” Levin explains.

Andrea Ruth at RedState supports the bill, but only because not passing it would make the GOP look worse than it already does:

Voters first gave them the House immediately following the passage of Obamacare. Republicans subsequently show-voted on repealing Obamacare more than 50 times in the following six years when they knew such a bill would never be enacted while a Democrat was in the White House.

Noah Millman at The American Conservative isn’t supportive at all:

By their own repeated admission, the GOP leadership has no actual policy goal of any kind. They promised something. They have to deliver something — even if that something is wildly unpopular, satisfies nobody, and bears almost no relation to what they originally promised.

I believe in my heart that many Republican voters still believe in the type of small-government Federalism that Ronald Reagan espoused. It’s not their fault that a majority of Republican representatives view “smaller government” as a catchphrase in their campaign sales pitch instead of a goal. However, don’t try to convince me that they’ll come around eventually. Accept that they’re the big-government Democratlite Party so we can work together to really rein in DC.

One of the biggest misconceptions about states’ rights is that their purpose is to protect the states from overreach by the federal government. On the surface, this is correct, but we have to dig just a little deeper to understand why they’re so important to every American.

The states do not need direct protection. It’s rare for DC to target an individual state governing body or the foundation of a state’s existence, though one can argue it has happened from time to time. The reality is that states’ rights are so clearly protected in the Constitution to empower the states to protect the people from oppression. The founders feared an overly powerful federal government could systematically attack the rights that the Constitution defends if they weren’t held to account by the states through the checks and balances the Constitution allots them. What we’ve seen since the 19th century and what has accelerated since FDR is the founders’ fears coming true.

From education to the environment, from health care to the use of natural resources, Washington DC has stepped into arenas where it has absolutely no business entering. The real victims are not simply the embodiment of the states themselves but rather the people within the states who are being made to feel they have no recourse. As states bend and often break to the will of the federal government, Constitutional protections for the people are being trampled.

Some states have fought back. Most have accepted their fate, forgotten the 10th Amendment, and sat stagnant as DC continues to dictate what they can and cannot do. Lest we forget, the federal government was granted many enumerated powers that give them plenty of clout; I’m not one who thinks DC should be powerless. I simply want them to stick with the powers they were given.

A look at the enumerated powers and the various amendments that added to them presents us with a federal government that should be much less powerful than it is today. The reason the 10th Amendment allows the states and individuals to govern themselves in all regards outside of the enumerated powers is because the founders believed safeguards were necessary to prevent limited representation in important matters. The states, local governments, and especially individuals are more aware of how to handle their situations than the federal government. In other words, they can solve problems for themselves much more easily than DC could ever imagine doing. Education, for example, requires no input from DC. None. It’s time to get rid of the Department of Education for good.

As much as I’d like to hope one of the two major parties will break from the overreaching trends they’ve both demonstrated over the decades, I’m not waiting around. The Democrats are calling for Federalism to combat President Trump just as the Republicans called for Federalism to fight President Obama, but both have failed to bring about the degree of change necessary to make a real impact. Part of this is because they tend to call for Federalism when they’re in a position of weakness. It’s for this reason that we’ve formed the Federalist Party. Regardless of which major party champions Federalism at any given moment, it’s our party’s belief that they’re just bluffing. Their actions when they’re in control indicate they have no intention of returning the country to the balance of powers the founders intended.

This article is being written on a conservative blog and I consider it a blessing to have access to this forum. I do not speak for this site, but as a conservative who feels that both parties are veering to the left, it’s imperative that I talk about states’ rights to appeal to conservatives and liberals alike. Otherwise, I’d be lying to myself and this audience if I were to say that I’m confident the two-party system will ever yield a true champion for the Constitution. There are those within the major parties who love the Constitution, but they are dwindling in numbers. A time is coming when they’ll need to make a choice. I’m confident many will choose the Federalist Party as their home.

The key to Federalism is balance. When the original Federalists were fighting for ratification of the Constitution, their opposition wanted the states to be too powerful. It was up to Federalists to bring the balance of powers necessary to have a vibrant constitutional republic. Today, we fight for this balance from the opposite direction. DC is too powerful. Just as Presidents Nixon and Reagan before us, their concepts of “new Federalism” require us to fight to limit the federal government’s power to reestablish a balance with the states. This is the only way individual Americans can be secure from overreach by either their state or federal government.

A return to the checks and balances that were designed to protect the people and defend the Constitution is growing more necessary every day. We’ve seen strides in the right direction in DC, but these strides are quickly erased by further overreach, increased budgets, and expanded federal powers. It’s time for Constitution-loving Federalists to rise up and show DC they cannot continue down this road.

Here’s a pop quiz for all you students at every level. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in school today or if you’re simply a student of life (as we all should be until we die). Since Jimmy Carter brought us the Department of Education, what has been the positive impact it’s had on our students, teachers, parents, or communities?

It’s somewhat of a trick question because no matter what positive impact you recall hearing about or seeing on Wikipedia, there are more negatives that have come out of every action the department has taken and every decree they’ve made. I won’t bore you with statistics or point to individual instances of complete failure to improve the quality or efficiency of education in America. Either you see the clear dysfunction in our schools today or you don’t. Nothing I say will change your mind.

If ever a department begged to be eliminated for the sake of Federalism, this is it. Nothing screams localization like education. Nothing demands standards be set by states, the communities within them, and parents themselves as much as schooling. To say the federal government is capable of properly overseeing education is as asinine as thinking they can properly manage health care.

They can’t. They’ve proven this very clearly, yet we’re still in the middle of a 38-year-old failed experiment.

This isn’t just about eliminating Common Core or pushing for more charter schools. It’s not about deciding how to allocate budgets based upon which school districts can meet meaningless standards the best. We’re at a point that the only correct answer to this very easy question is to begin the transition to get DC out of schools altogether.

There is too much money in play to pull the rug out from under them which is why a transition is necessary. It doesn’t have to be a long one. If they start now, they could have a plan in place before the next election followed by elimination of the department before the 2020 Presidential elections. As horrid as it is to have to think about this in terms of election cycles, that’s the only way to get DC politicians to act.

Will education be harmed for a time as a result? It’s hard to say. On one hand, there’s certain to be obtuse state legislatures and/or governors who fail to prepare for the burden that should have belonged to them all along. On the other hand, it’s hard to imagine that it could get much worse. Many if not most school districts and state departments have become so focused on staying within the boundaries set by DC that they may struggle at first. This may seem unfair to the students directly affected, but just as the states and cities need to step up, so too do the districts and individual schools. Many won’t like it, but enough education professionals will take responsibility and make it work. Those who do not don’t belong in such important roles in the first place.

America has been shifting away from a mindset of personal responsibility since the 1960s. There was a brief intermission when things were looking up in the 1980s, but that quickly faded after Ronald Reagan left the White House. This is why when looking at the big picture, dissolving the Department of Education is a microcosm of what must be done to much of the federal government as a whole. It’s the most obvious example of overreach, unnecessary bureaucracy, and wasted taxpayer dollars. As such, eliminating it would be an excellent guide for future acts of deconstruction that are also needed in DC. If we don’t immediately begin chopping away at the bloat, the big-government monstrosity will continue to grow.

Applying Reagan’s concepts of Federalism to slice the fat in DC may seem radical today just as it seemed radical when Reagan was in office. He had few government-limiting allies within the GOP which is why he couldn’t cut nearly as much as he would have liked. Today, it’s much worse as both major parties seem to be racing to see who can grow DC power the fastest. It’s time to start dismantling the administration state one agency, program, committee, and department at a time. The Department of Education is a prime candidate to face the guillotine first.

Briefly…

There seem to be a lot of Democrats complaining that the leader of the DNC announced there’s no room for pro-lifers in his party. Most Democrats are pro-choice, but even many of abortionists are saying that the issue is too polarizing for the party to take such a strict stance that alienates a small portion of their party. Obviously, pro-life Democrats are furious.

Why should they be? The party has made no secret of their stance on abortion in the recent past. Coming out and declaring that members of the party need to be pro-choice is not only expected but welcomed, at least by those who want to be politically honest. Being a pro-life Democrat is essentially saying, “I believe in most of what my party believes but I accept they will never do a thing I want them to when it comes to abortion.”

I wouldn’t go so far as to say a “pro-life Democrat” is an oxymoron, but there are clear contradictions. Rather than denouncing, I applaud the DNC for stating the truth about themselves, their ideology, and what they expect from members. All parties should do the same. My membership with the Federalist Party comes fully attached to a pro-life stance. The vast majority in the GOP are either pro-life or, if they happen to be pro-choice, accept that they’re not going to get their way on that issue. The Libertarian Party, Green Party, and Constitution Party have all made their stances known.

This issue is far too important to leave room for interpretation within a party. I have no love for Tom Perez or the Democrats he represents, but again I think it’s best for them to be honest to their own membership. The Democrats are the pro-choice major party. To pretend otherwise is silly.

I don’t make it a practice to comment on potential legislation before reading it. Speculation takes too much bias and rumors into account which tends to sway the reader (and author) in directions before the truth is even known. I’m making this exception because if reports that Vice President Mike Pence has negotiated a deal with the Freedom Caucus turn out to be true, it could be the best move made by the administration on health care since taking office.

Then again, it might be a big nothingburger.

The good news: limited waivers for the states. This means states have opportunities to bypass certain provisions of the AHCA that would allow them to help drive down premiums.

The bad news: essential health benefits carry over from Obamacare. This will limit the decrease (and even perpetuate increases) in premiums for the vast majority of Americans.

We’ll see how it pans out, but here’s the thing. I know many if not most Republicans are in favor of repealing and replacing Obamacare with the AHCA. It would boost morale and take away certain chunks of the oppressive economic burden that Obamacare has placed on us. However, the details are terrifying to anyone who believes in limiting government and defending the freedoms we hold dear. The original AHCA was a repackaged version of nationalized medicine that would push us further down the road towards financial oblivion and what we’ve seen of the proposed changes don’t change that. It would potentially slow down skyrocketing insurance costs, but it wouldn’t reverse them. In essence, it’s not a solution to Obamacare but a way to spread out the ill effects. We will still be paying way more than we were just a few years ago. We will still be ballooning the national debt and making little impact on our outrageously unbalanced budget.

Full repeal is the right way to go. That’s not to say that we need to return to the pre-Obamacare era. Changes need to be made, but those changes should come based upon reactions and analysis once it’s repealed rather than trying to plug all of the potential holes ahead of time. If we repeal Obamacare and allow the free market to guide the government on changes to be made, the end result will be much better. We can already plan for some of the changes such as opening up competition across state lines. We can work with charities, communities, and local governments to fill the gaps and prevent people from falling through the cracks. By repealing Obamacare fully in stages over the next 1-3 years and then watching how consumers, health insurance companies, and markets react, we can make intelligent decisions rather than speculative ones.

Of note is that the Freedom Caucus is supporting the amendments to the bill. We’ll see what that really looks like. Getting government out of health care is the only truly conservative/federalist way of fixing it. If they’re willing to negotiate, I would hope it’s because they believe in the plan and not because they’re feeling pressure from donors and the White House.

Only time will tell and speculation at this point is premature, but it will be interesting to see just how revamped Ryancare 2.0 really is. The bright spot I’ve seen in initial reports is that leftist publications like WaPo and HuffPo seem to hate the idea, so that’s good.