Nobody Really Cares About Federalism, Rick Perry Edition

A good article by Manny Fernandez and Emily Ramshaw details some ways in which Rick Perry's federalist views have yielded to other priorities:

In one of his more well-publicized shifts, Mr. Perry proclaimed that gay marriage was an issue for individual states to decide, but backtracked in recent weeks and now says he supports a federal amendment banning gay marriage. He has also signaled support for various federal actions to restrict abortion rather than leaving the issue to states. And he used $17 billion in federal stimulus money to balance the state’s last two budgets.

It should be noted that in all of this Perry is a completely mainstream Republican. The idea that Republicans want Roe v. Wade overruled so that the issue can be "returned to the states" is a massive fraud. Not a single anti-choice Republican voted against the federal ban on "partial birth" abortions. The Republican platform contains a plank urging a constitutional amendment that would make abortion first-degree murder in all 50 states. And as same-sex marriage becomes more popular, fewer and fewer Republicans will be able to get away with a "leave it to the states" dodge with their constituents.  And even when SSM was a nonstarter in most blue states, many Republicans favored a constitutional amendment that would make same-sex marriage illegal everywhere.

And even where Perry's views on federal power are genuinely radical, this represents substantive views. His arguments against Social Security don't proceed with arguments about why Helbering v. Davis was wrongly decided; they proceed with arguments that Social Security is a "ponzi scheme." You don't notice Perry making arguments about the unconstitutionality of programs he supports on the merits, because as is almost always the case, beliefs about federalism aren't doing the work.

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