“Hypocrisy is not a way of getting back to the moral high ground. Pretending you’re moral, saying you’re moral is not the same as acting morally.” —Alan Dershowitz
Unwise Comment by Cruz Prefers Big Government to Small GovernmentTed Cruz just accused Donald Trump of being “no different from politically correct leftist elites,” in his response to Trump’s criticism of North Carolina’s new transgender bathroom law. What Cruz was referring to was commentary made by Trump on the NBC’s Today Show about the new North Carolina state law. “Leave it the way it is,” said Trump. “North Carolina, what they’re going through with all the business that’s leaving, all of the strife—and this is on both sides. Leave it the way it is. There has been so little trouble. And the problem with what happened in North Carolina is the strife and the economic—I mean, the economic punishment that they’re taking.”
But, instead of supporting small government in his response to Trump’s words, Cruz backed the big government of North Carolina over the small government of towns and cities who chose to write their own ordinances. Thus, Cruz has gotten the issue totally wrong, and he should know better. Big-government power, in the hands of conservatives, is just as negative and disempowering to individual liberty as when that power resides in the hands of progressives. A big government interfering in the name of taking the moral high ground is not the same as acting morally. And it should be individual citizens themselves who realize what is moral and who take action in accordance with that morality. Besides, legislating morality at a higher level of government, without buy-in from the community, only creates disrespect for the law.
Here is how Cruz chose to respond to Trump’s preference for non-interference: “Today, [Trump] joined [leftist elites] in calling for grown men to be allowed to use little girls’ public restrooms. As the dad of young daughters, I dread what this will mean for our daughters—and for our sisters and our wives. It is a reckless policy that will endanger our loved ones.” The problem with Cruz’s comment is that, in his competitive quest to best Trump, he has not only lost his way ideologically speaking, but with regard to the truth as well. Trump did not say he wanted “grown men to be allowed to use little girls’ public restrooms,” as Cruz would have it. What Trump actually expressed, with regard to North Carolina’s statist intervention, was that they “[l]eave it the way it is.” This is the position of one who is against big-government’s dictating to small government.
It is true that, when asked about Caitlyn Jenner’s having a choice of which restroom to use, Trump said he would not wish to discriminate against Caitlyn. But Trump also said that forcing a business to change its bathroom facilities was also a form of discrimination. People can say what they will about Trump and his positions, but his comment about leaving the situation alone and allowing the people to settle matters among themselves clearly points in the direction of getting the government off the backs of the American people.
Trump’s Principled Conservatism
Trump’s comment actually illustrates a conservative principle—the principle of allowing problems to be solved at the lowest possible level, and, therefore, with the greatest amount of freedom possible. What North Carolina did was to impose the will of the majority (the collective population of the entire state) upon the minority (the few municipalities that may have decided to make their own rule).
Laboratories of Democracy
Cruz has, in the past, championed the independence of the smaller governments of sovereign states versus the bigger government of Washington, DC. It was at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) that Cruz proclaimed that, although he opposed the legalization of marijuana, he still believed that the sovereign states should have the right to make their own marijuana laws: “I actually think this is a great embodiment of what Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis called the laboratories of democracy. If the citizens of Colorado decide they want to go down that road, that’s their prerogative. I don’t agree with it, but that’s their right.” So, if this principle of federalism applies to states vis-à-vis Washington, does the same not also apply to townships versus the state? Of course it does! Community problem-solving should only rise to a higher level of government if no effective solution can be reached or implemented at the lower level. This bottom-up model for problem-solving goes all the way back to Jethro’s advice to Moses in Exodus 18:19-23.
Cruz’s Home State of Texas Models Democratic Republicanism
In Senator Cruz’s home state of Texas, it might be pointed out, there is no statewide law prohibiting cell phone use or texting while driving. It has been left up to local communities to make their own rules regarding the matter. This allows the people to remain free from unwanted government interference. Statist solutions are never good, whether they be conservative or progressive in nature, because participating in statist solutions only reinforces the mindset that larger government entities always hold wiser and better solutions than smaller, more local ones who may have good reasons for enacting a solution in the way they have chosen to do so. And, in a situation where the municipality finds its adopted solution to be a mistake, it can easily undo the rule—with much more speed and facility, in fact, than a bad rule can be undone at the state level.
Trump’s Freedom Sensibility & the Empowerment of Moral Behavior
Trump’s argument of non-interference by larger governmental bodies clearly prioritizes local governance over and above the imposition of statewide rules. Thus, it seems almost ironic that Trump is actually advocating the more libertarian position here, in opposition to Cruz’s expressed preference for Establishment-imposed, progressive-style regulation of human conduct.
We the People must never forget that the principle of smaller government entities governing our daily lives, as opposed to larger ones, is a key principle that helps Americans to live in a free and prosperous democratic republic. So, Trump was right. The larger state government should just leave communities alone, whenever they can, and simply encourage good people at the local level to overturn any bad policies on their own. It was one of Ronald Reagan’s favorite thinkers, Friedrich Hayek, who said, “The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen.” (Watch the Prager University lesson based on this quote.)
When everything is legislated at the state or national level, local activism and moral conduct to right wrongs is discouraged. After all, there is no reason to become a community contributor or to take any moral action, if all problem-solving will be taken out of your hands eventually by a larger policy-making authority. It is also true that, when the state creates a policy like the one North Carolina is now fashioning, it makes every single person living in the state the target of whatever economic boycott or backlash the Left might propose. Instead of making everyone in the entire state a potential economic victim, every community should be left to its own devices, making for smaller economic targets and less likelihood that what they are doing will even be noticed at the national level. So, Trump has actually given good advice that works well with respect to freedom and economics!
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com