You are our last line of defense.
On Dec. 28, prior to heading out for the holiday long weekend, President Joe Biden did something that very few politicians do when confronted with a difficult reality.
In this case, he was asked a question about his administration’s response to the latest wave of COVID-19 spread impacting the country. Rather than issuing a predetermined talking point, or delivering some clever spin, or deflecting altogether, Biden made a strategic error — he told the truth.
He uttered five words that became a story for days, a narrative that made limited government conservatives practically giddy. What were the five words he said?
“There is no federal response.”
Many of the traditional and social media responses from conservatives were critical — it was easy to point out the hypocrisy of the President’s reply in contrast to his proclamations on the campaign trail a year prior.
The more I thought about it, however, the more I felt something I haven’t felt in a while — encouraged.
I was encouraged that a President or any politician, frankly, residing in Washington, D.C. would utter something so aligned with my core philosophies that I would agree with him. There is a reason that more than 230 years ago our founders decided that the best path forward was one in which the natural tendencies of the federal government, to take more and more power, should be constrained. That on matters apart from the national defense, the best way to guarantee the protection of liberty and opportunity is to delegate the vast majority of decisions on policy to each of the states.
It was true in 1787 and it is true today.
I revisit that moment because this week our legislators return to Tallahassee to commence the 2022 Session. As a seventh-generation Floridian, I continue to feel a sense of reverence for our future, thinking about men and women from all parts of the state, from all walks of life, from a variety of different political philosophies — elected to serve and uphold the principles set forth in both Florida’s constitution and that of the United States.
As the 2022 Legislative Session begins, I would offer five words of encouragement to our policymakers as they embark … “there is no federal response.”
Whether it involves the health of schoolchildren, the liberties of parents the care of the elderly, or the safety of the general public — you state legislators matter more than anyone in Washington, D.C.
When the bureaucrats spend trillions of our dollars with little to show for it other than another example of waste in the swamp, recognize that there is no federal response. The responsibility is yours to manage this beautiful, dynamic state without encroaching on the liberties we hold dear.
Your actions on behalf of the more than 21 million people that call the Sunshine State home have resulted in more population growth, more income transfer, and more opportunity than any other state in the country. You have done so by doing what Washington has been unable to do in any way, regardless of which party is in charge.
You have kept the tax burden low, you have managed the state’s finances effectively, you have promoted small businesses and entrepreneurs through minimal regulations, and you have offered parents and schoolchildren opportunities to receive the educational options best suited for their needs.
You have done this so successfully that last year more than 220,000 residents of other states decided to move here … more than to any other state.
There is a quote attributed to Ronald Reagan that a government program is the nearest example to eternal life we will see on earth. Despite the spending of trillions of dollars, over decades in some instances, what we know to be true is that the vast majority of these programs are wasteful, often arbitrary and largely ineffective.
You are our last line of defense against following in the path of $30 trillion worth of debt that will one day cripple our nation. You are the shining city on a hill that the rest of the country is looking to. While our policy team concentrates on the work of Florida, they spend more and more of their time in other states, helping legislators there learn how to emulate the success stories of home, or the “Florida Story” as we call it. This is because those states recognize it, as well … there is no federal response.
On behalf of the entire JMI team, I wish you all well as you navigate what will be an exciting, occasionally stressful, and hopefully memorable 60 days. The nation is watching.
Dr. J. Robert McClure is president and CEO of The James Madison Institute.