Governor McDonnell on Federalism

I’ve always preferred the role of Vice President as the philosopher-king, the one who constantly speaks to the nations conscience rather than merely being the president’s hatchetman.

McDonnell seems to be angling for just that role… despite not truly “angling” for any role at all.  Of note are his thoughts on federalism and that little buzzword localities have been hearing from Richmond for some time:  devolution.

“The issue of federalism is front-and-center,” he added, during the sitdown following Thurday’s National Prayer Breakfast. “What we’re going to see is more talk of devolution and more power to the states. I don’t think it’s a granting of power, it’s just restoring what our founders meant. But I really do relish being part of that discussion.”

Now whether or not the Politico article paints McDonnell in the best light is another question altogether.  Wouldn’t it be interesting to read from McDonnell what he really means by “federalism by devolution?”  Or perhaps a book from George Allen on what “Jeffersonian conservatism” really means?  Or from Mark Warner on the principles of “radical centrism” or Tom Perriello on what “conviction politics” really means — and not via ghostwriter?

The only modern Virginia political figure that has even come close is Jim Webb’s Born Fighting — which I still believe to be a contemptible, racist worldview that attempts to divide America on class and the Scotch-Irish as an ethnicity.  Still… I do credit Jim Webb for having the guts to write it, even though I strongly disagree with the premise.

Of course, in the eyes of localities. “devolution” has rarely translated into a transference of power from the state to localities, but rather a transference of responsibilities from Richmond to the courthouse.  Thus localities are forced to pick up the tab for a series of unfunded mandates that a bloated bureaucracy in Richmond finds convenient to unload.

If there’s a person able to synthesize the virtues of federalism with the Gordian knot that is “devolution” in practice, I could think of no one better than McDonnell to take on the task.  Then again, it could all just be buzzwords and talk… this is politics after all.

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