Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Rick Perry invokes federalism on guns

I tweeted this link yesterday and said that I admired Rick Perry's adherence to state's rights in this instance, and also that I disagree with him regardless. Here is what he said:

PERRY: When it gets back to this issue of taking guns away from law abiding citizens and somehow know this will make our country safer, I don’t agree with that. I think most people in Texas don’t agree with that, and that is a state by state issue frankly that should be decided in the states and not again a rush to Washington, D.C. to centralize the decision making, and them to decide what is in the best interest for the citizens and the people of Florida and Texas. That’s for the people of these states to decide.

I decided to write a post on this because LGM (Lawyers,Guns,&Money) had this post today about the three immutable laws of American politics, which are:

1)Nobody cares about federalism. 2)No conservative Republican — Paul Ryan very much included — cares about the deficit. 3)Most mainstream pundits will call conservative Republicans who repeatedly support unfunded upper-class tax cuts and wars “deficit hawks” anyway.

I completely agree with that. But at first glance, Perry's statement seems to undermine the first law. I'm too lazy to look up whether Perry has contradicted his federalist claims. I'd bet he has and will contradict his claim sooner or later. But for now I'll give him a pass. So does Perry actually care about federalism? I don't think he does.

Notice how he specifically invokes his state of Texas. He knows that the people of Texas love their guns and wouldn't decide to limit their ability to own them. I think he says states should decide what to do with guns because he genuinely believes that most states wouldn't take away their own guns.

Actually, he says "the people" of states should decide. I think that's important. He has to know that there are Democratic politicians out there that would vote to take away or at least limit people's gun rights. This is usually why Republican's don't care about federalism. They know that some states would still allow abortion if it was unfederalized (trademarked). But Perry doesn't come to that conclusion here because I think he believes people would genuinely rise up against whatever politician tried to limit their gun rights.

It's either that or Perry just has the ability to say whatever he is thinking at that moment without contemplating the relationship that statement has with his previous statements and ideology. And given Perry's track record, I'd say that's a possibility. But if it's what I described, I think it sums up why nobody, particularly Republicans who claim to, cares about federalism. They know that their policy preferences wouldn't hold up across every state. And they don't like that. So they selectively decide when to care about federalism.

Whatever his reasons, I still give credit to Perry for saying what he did. I can't recall any other Republican invoking federalism when it comes to guns. That's such a big issue for them that I wouldn't think anyone would go that far. So kudos to Perry for having the guts.

Update: I decided to not be lazy and take 10 seconds to type "Rick Perry on federalism" into google. Here's Conor Friedersdorf on why we (or those of you who actually care about federalism) shouldn't trust Perry on the issue. I think the law holds.

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