The Laudable Pursuit: Saving Communities with Federalism

Senator Mike Lee
2017-07-14 17:24:03
July 14, 2017 "to elevate the condition of men--to lift artificial weights from all shoulders, to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all, to afford all an unfettered start and a fair chance, in the race of life." --Abraham Lincoln Chairman's Note: Saving Communities with Federalism How strong are America's communities? Sadly, we know from decades of research, including work by the Social Capital Project, that they are growing weaker. Men and women are having fewer children in total, and they are also having fewer children within wedlock. Between 1970 and 2015, births to single mothers rose from 11 percent of all births to 40 percent. Americans are spending less time in religious communities. Church attendance and trust in organized religion have dropped sharply since the early 1970s. Americans also participate less in secular voluntary associations such as the Boy Scouts and Rotary International-groups that historically have brought together people from different walks of life. The destruction of community life is a spiritual crisis for millions. They have been severed from local institutions that give meaning to the soul. What caused this? There are of course many culprits, but much of the blame goes to the federal government, which has intruded into aspects of life that used to be the sole domain of civil society. As scholar Robert Nisbet observed, government crowds out civic groups by competing with them to perform similar social functions. Robbed of purpose by a competitor they cannot outspend, these civic groups wither, leaving behind an empty public square. The challenge we face today is rebuilding our communities, which will require us to reverse century-old trends toward centralization. We need to stop investing in Washington, and reinvest in the places we came from. Unlike our current season of national outrage, a turn toward localism stands a chance of actually yielding a happier, healthier republic. First of all, a renewed focus on local governance would lower the stakes of political conflict. Given the shared values within most communities, decisions made at lower levels of government are more likely to be consensus decisions. And when problems arise within communities, local politicians are better situated to hear stakeholders' concerns. A renewed focus on local governance would also encourage innovation in public policy. States are referred to as the "laboratories of democracy," but often they are not free to experiment because the federal government imposes one "solution" from above. Instead of laboratories, the states are treated as lab rats. This is a risky way to make policy. Top-down solutions are an all-or-nothing bet, with catastrophic in the case of failure. "Instead of laboratories, the states are treated as lab rats." Federalism offers a better way here as well. It allows states to tailor policies to their diverse cultures. But there is one more reason we need a renewed commitment to local governance. It has to do with something at the core of our national project: Self-government. The populist movements that are marching on Washington are motivated, in part, by a sense that they are being disregarded by their leaders. This loss of control and respect is an indignity-a reversal of the American social compact, which puts the people in charge. And it began with the decline of self-governing local communities that give meaningful roles to ordinary people. As usual, Tocqueville put it best. He wrote that "the township, at the center of the ordinary relations of life, serves as a field for the desire of public esteem." He understood that men and women desire esteem, and that for the vast majority of people esteem is earned close to home through service to others. That is the true beauty of localism. Hundreds of years after the Founding, it still offers our country the best way forward. Preserving Medicaid Click here to watch video Issue in Focus: Ending Obama's National Zoning Board On July 16, 2015, President Obama's Department of Housing and Urban Development issued an innocuous-sounding new regulation that it said would "promote fair housing choice and foster inclusive communities that are free from discrimination." This "Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing" rule supposedly would only assist local communities by providing them with more data needed to comply with the Fair Housing Act of 1968. What the regulation really did, however, was empower unaccountable bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. with the tools to act as a national zoning board. Under the new housing rule, HUD would review fair housing plans created by state and local governments using data created and stored by the federal government. HUD could then withhold federal grant money from state and local governments if it thought the plans were deficient. This new process would give HUD the power to control zoning laws in virtually every community in the country. The federal government could selectively starve local governments of resources if it doesn't like where they are approving new apartment complexes. In a July 2015 article in the Washington Times, HUD Secretary Ben Carson said that the department's attempts to "legislate racial equality create consequences that often make matters worse." I couldn't agree more. That is why Representative Gosar and I sent a letter signed by several colleagues to Secretary Carson this Friday asking him to fully rescind the July 2015 AFFH rule. "It is critical that we pursue real, sensible reforms to reduce poverty and improve the opportunities available to lower-income citizens at the local level," the letter reads. Washington, D.C. Office 361A Russell Senate Office Building Washington, D.C., 20510 Phone: 202.224.5444 Fax: 202.228.1168 Salt Lake City Wallace F. Bennett Federal Building 125 South State, Suite 4225 Salt Lake City, UT 84138 Phone: 801.524.5933 Fax: 801.524.5730 St. George Office of Senator Michael S. Lee 285 West Tabernacle, Suite 200 St. George, UT 84770 Phone: 435.628.5514 SaveSaveSave SaveSave SaveSaveSave Save Save This message was intended for: xxx You were added to the system October 2, 2015. For more information please follow the URL below: newsletter.senate.gov/p/iWONtX6EwN Follow the URL below to update your preferences or opt-out: newsletter.senate.gov/p/oWONtX6EwN To unsubscribe from future mailings, send an email to mailto:xxx?Subject=Unsubscribe&body=Please%20remove%20me%20from%20further%20mailings with "Unsubscribe" as the subject line.
July 14, 2017

"to elevate the condition of men--to lift artificial weights from all shoulders, to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all, to afford all an unfettered start and a fair chance, in the race of life." --Abraham Lincoln

Chairman's Note: Saving Communities with Federalism

How strong are America’s communities? Sadly, we know from decades of research, including work by the Social"Capital Project, that they are growing weaker.

Men and women are having fewer children in total, and they are also having fewer children within wedlock. Between 1970 and 2015, births to single mothers rose from 11 percent of all births to 40 percent.

Americans are spending less time in religious communities. Church attendance and trust in organized religion have dropped sharply since the early 1970s.
 
Americans also participate less in secular voluntary associations such as the Boy Scouts and Rotary International—groups that historically have brought together people from different walks of life.
  
The destruction of community life is a spiritual crisis for millions. They have been severed from local institutions that give meaning to the soul.
 
What caused this? There are of course many culprits, but much of the blame goes to the federal government, which has intruded into aspects of life that used to be the sole domain of civil society.
 
As scholar Robert Nisbet observed, government crowds out civic groups by competing with them to perform similar social functions. Robbed of purpose by a competitor they cannot outspend, these civic groups wither, leaving behind an empty public square.
 
The challenge we face today is rebuilding our communities, which will require us to reverse century-old trends toward centralization. We need to stop investing in Washington, and reinvest in the places we came from.

Unlike our current season of national outrage, a turn toward localism stands a chance of actually yielding a happier, healthier republic.
 
First of all, a renewed focus on local governance would lower the stakes of political conflict.
 
Given the shared values within most communities, decisions made at lower levels of government are more likely to be consensus decisions. And when problems arise within communities, local politicians are better situated to hear stakeholders’ concerns.
 
A renewed focus on local governance would also encourage innovation in public policy. States are referred to as the “laboratories of democracy,” but often they are not free to experiment because the federal government imposes one “solution” from above.

Instead of laboratories, the states are treated as lab rats.
 
This is a risky way to make policy. Top-down solutions are an all-or-nothing bet, with catastrophic in the case of failure.

"Instead of laboratories, the states are treated as lab rats."

Federalism offers a better way here as well. It allows states to tailor policies to their diverse cultures.
 
But there is one more reason we need a renewed commitment to local governance. It has to do with something at the core of our national project: Self-government.
 
The populist movements that are marching on Washington are motivated, in part, by a sense that they are being disregarded by their leaders.
 
This loss of control and respect is an indignity—a reversal of the American social compact, which puts the people in charge. And it began with the decline of self-governing local communities that give meaningful roles to ordinary people.
 
As usual, Tocqueville put it best. He wrote that “the township, at the center of the ordinary relations of life, serves as a field for the desire of public esteem.”
 
He understood that men and women desire esteem, and that for the vast majority of people esteem is earned close to home through service to others.
 
That is the true beauty of localism. Hundreds of years after the Founding, it still offers our country the best way forward.

Preserving" Medicaid

Click here to watch video

Issue in Focus: Ending Obama’s National Zoning Board

On July 16, 2015, President Obama’s Department of Housing and Urban Development issued an innocuous-sounding new regulation that it said would “promote fair housing choice and foster inclusive communities that are free from discrimination.”
 
This “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” rule supposedly would only assist local communities by providing them with more data needed to comply with the Fair Housing Act of 1968.
 
What the regulation really did, however, was empower unaccountable bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. with the tools to act as a national zoning board.
 
Under the new housing rule, HUD would review fair housing plans created by state and local governments using data created and stored by the federal government. HUD could then withhold federal grant money from state and local governments if it thought the plans were deficient.
 
This new process would give HUD the power to control zoning laws in virtually every community in the country. The federal government could selectively starve local governments of resources if it doesn’t like where they are approving new apartment complexes.
 
In a July 2015 article in the Washington Times, HUD Secretary Ben Carson said that the department’s attempts to “legislate racial equality create consequences that often make matters worse.” I couldn’t agree more.
 

That is why Representative Gosar and I sent a letter signed by several colleagues to Secretary Carson this Friday asking him to fully rescind the July 2015 AFFH rule.

“It is critical that we pursue real, sensible reforms to reduce poverty and improve the opportunities available to lower-income citizens at the local level,” the letter reads.

Washington, D.C. Office
361A Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C., 20510
Phone: 202.224.5444
Fax: 202.228.1168
Salt Lake City
Wallace F. Bennett Federal Building
125 South State, Suite 4225
Salt Lake City, UT 84138
Phone: 801.524.5933
Fax: 801.524.5730
St. George
Office of Senator Michael S. Lee
285 West Tabernacle, Suite 200
St. George, UT 84770
Phone: 435.628.5514



SaveSaveSave SaveSave SaveSaveSave Save Save

Unsubscribe"| Update"My Profile | Privacy"Policy

This message was intended for: xxx
You were added to the system October 2, 2015.
For more information click"here