Federalism, the Other Red Meat
A central aspect of the summertime hype surrounding a potential Fred Thompson presidential bid was the idea that Thompson might serve as a political vessel in which social conservatives could wash away their long-standing anxieties about the ideological purity of the existing crop of Republican candidates.
I am guessing that some of those voters, particularly religious conservatives, were less than thrilled with the principled federalism that Thompson expounded during yesterday’s Meet the Press interview. Thompson admitted that his views on states’ rights would allow for individual states to make their own decisions regarding the legality of abortion and gay marriage.
From the interview transcript, here is Thompson on abortion:
Before Roe v. Wade, states made those decisions. I think people ought to be free at state and local levels to make decisions that even Fred Thompson disagrees with. That’s what freedom is all about. And I think the diversity we have among the states, the system of federalism we have where power is divided between the state and the federal government is, is, is—serves us very, very well. I think that’s true of abortion.
And on gay marriage:
But, at the end of the day, if a state legislature and a governor decide that that’s what they want to do [legalize gay marriage], yes, they should have, they, they should have the freedom to do what Fred Thompson thinks is a very bad idea.
A consistent application of the tenets of federalism, but one that is not likely to capture the imagination (and wallets) of social conservatives who are more interested in talking about federal amendments to ban abortion and gay marriage. Interestingly enough, Thompson just may find his stock rising in New Hampshire, as a result.
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