As a former conservative and full-blown libertarian, I'll admit that I'm not the most doctrinaire liberal. I like to think of myself as "the thinking man's liberal", to some extent. I don't just parrot talking points, although that seems to get me a lot of flack and vitriol from those on the Left who appear to be more robotic in their mentality rather than honest debate and dialogue. One of the things that has stuck with me over the years is a respect for a healthy dose of states' rights, localism and decentralization with regards to policymaking.
Now, whenever someone mentions "states' rights", esp. if it's coming from a conservative, a lot of liberals (if not most) seem to have alarm bells going off in their head, thinking something along the lines of, "Racist! He wants to bring back discrimination and segregation." Of course, we know that's nonsense, what with all the recent LIBERAL victories we've gotten thanks to states rights, most notably in the fields of gay rights and anti-prohibition efforts. While Prop 19 did not win, it did get an astonishing 46.5% of Californian voters to support it, less than five points from winning.
Liberals need to stop associating anti-black discrimination with states' rights so much. It's hurting us. Yes, it was used in the past to keep minorities down, but it was also used by abolitionists somewhat. Besides, not every right-winger who endorses states rights is a fucking KKK member. And it makes us look like huge hypocrites when we bitch about conservatives using it but use it ourselves because the feds won't give us the policies we need at the present time! Please, liberals, let's be a little friendlier to the concept. After all, were not many of the Founders avid supporters of states' rights and anti-federalism?
Obviously, there is a place for the federal government, and I'm no minimalist when it comes to government size and scope. However, I do realize that maybe states' rights is not the boogeyman after all. Are we not a federalist nation? Yet it seems like many liberals treat American government as if it were set up under some sort of weird unitary system like what, for example, the French have. Funny how many liberals championed the Vermont legislature's passage of single-payer (an endorsement of states' rights, whether or not they admit it) but bitch about other states wanting to either opt out or go their own more 'market-friendly' routes in opposition to so-called "Obamacare."
With a healthy dose of states' rights, states can experiment and figure out what works and what doesn't. States that fail will move on and learn from others, and states that succeed can serve as models for those that failed. It's win-win! 50 states, 50 possible styles (or more). I'm also a little dismayed that we don't seem to really care what goes on in our local towns and cities with regards to politics and issues, and it's not much better at the state level. Probably only a small portion of those who even pay attention to federal politics in this country pay attention to state (I myself have not been the best at this one, either, I'll admit :/).
Let's not be the enemy of states' rights but use it to our advantage and acknowledge that it's a crucial part of our system and the Constitution. Plus, it is ok to use the actual term when advocating it for causes like medical marijuana and gay marriage. It's neither a left-wing nor right-wing concept. It has its time and place.