Yesterday I went to view the film “Super 8,” and of course my mind turned to politics and governance.
Briefly stated, the film is a revisit of some Steven Spielberg themes, such as disasters, disappearing animals, and kids. Oh, and there’s a monster, too.
There was also a conflict between an officer of the U.S. Air Force and a deputy sheriff. The Air Force officer is an arrogant man who endangers the town; the deputy is a troubled guy who becomes the defender and protector of his small town. As the film proceeds, you naturally cheer for the deputy.
And it made me wonder: Shouldn’t our local officials be champions of freedom, even if those in other units of government endanger us through their mad plans? The Legislature in Texas debated (before scuttling) a law criminalizing the groping techniques of the TSA. The Libertarian Party of Florida, meanwhile, has called on sheriffs in that state to arrest TSA agents for violating the U.S. Constitution.
Whatever you think of the TSA, those cases are healthy reminders that our constitutional republic was never meant to concentrate all decision-making in the nation’s capital. Read Federalist Paper 51 for starters.
It’s true that local officials can be petty, self-serving, and corrupt. Just like national officials. But they live closer to the community they rule over–in fact, they’re part of it.
There’s something to be said, though, for giving them some leeway. If your national officials screw up, you’re out of luck. If your state or local government becomes corrupt or out of control, at least you can move. That safety valve helps keeps government in check.