…If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you
…you’ll be a Man, my son!
If, by Rudyard Kipling
The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State government are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.
Federalist 45, James Madison
Those of you who have followed Big Jolly Politics over the years will recognize these quotes, for I have referred to them often in my prior posts. I even chuckled to myself when my friend and proprietor of this website, David Jennings recently changed the dedication to Big Jolly Politics to the phrase, “because we have lost our collective mind,” which seemed to acknowledge that many of us had forgotten Kipling’s admonition over the last two years.
Frankly, it is largely due to this collective hysteria that I have stayed on the sidelines and not written much during this period—I have been trying to absorb, understand and reflect on all that has been happening. I did not feel I could constructively add to the public discourse until I had something positive to contribute. But after listening to, and watching President Trump’s address to Congress last night, I feel that I have been quiet long enough.
Not only did the President rise to the occasion and challenge Congress to listen to what America wants from its leadership, his vision is a challenge to all American Conservatives to finally implement our principles into effective action.
In a nutshell, if we “keep our heads about us,” and patiently use the new majority-party status of the Republican Party at the federal, state and national levels wisely, we can reform government at all levels to implement lasting public policies that will truly make life better for our fellow citizens, and for those who still see America as the beacon for true and lasting liberty in this world. That is our challenge.
I have been waiting for decades for a Republican leader to address the “Elephant in the Room”: our abandonment of too many of our neighbors to failed federal, state and local policies. Yes, and even to the “carnage” such abandonment has helped create. For all of those who question the state of neighborhoods in our country that have fallen prey to poor policies, how many of you would choose to live on the South side of Chicago, in Baltimore, in Flynt or Detroit, with their failing schools, violent crime, crumbling infrastructure, and lack of employment opportunities; or to live in communities ravaged by the growing opioid epidemic? These conditions are not just the fault of failed “progressive” policies, they are our fault for not having maintained relationships, built trust and fought for our policies to address these problems. If we truly believe in Madison’s conception of government responsibilities, we have been challenged to change.
Just changing the health-care law, rolling back federal regulations and fixing our tax code will not be enough. We have to accept the challenge to re-assert our state and local responsibilities to fix our schools, our public-safety and criminal-justice systems, our infrastructure, and our employment opportunities in every neighborhood. Even here in Texas, we face challenges to address these systemic problems, and we must act.
I hope all of us took to heart the challenge we were presented last night. It is time to “keep our heads about us” and to re-engage in the hard work of self-government.