As many of you, I was always fascinated with the incredible tricks performed by magicians. As a youngster I remember trying to catch him by watching his hands. We always tried to figure out how he did it, and never succeeded. His “slight of hand” tricks were designed to distract us by focusing our attention away from what he was really doing. He would use lights, music and other effects to move our attention away from where the real action was. I think the Republican party has taken a page out of the magicians playbook.
We are all watching the “big show” in Washington. You know, the latest accusations of scandal and the latest battles brewing surrounding the budget and immigration. The GOP leadership make pompous and accusatory speeches while the Democrats accuse the Republicans of blocking any meaningful action. That is not to say that there aren’t valid questions and concerns regarding the IRS’s and the DOJ’s actions. Nor am I saying that the ideological issues being fought in the budget are unimportant. However, these are battles and concerns that impact on us in the short term, while the real battle is being fought in the states and will impact on us for decades to come.
The state legislatures are where the action is. It is in these bodies, reflective of local mores and beliefs, that the future of such issues as abortion, separation of church and state, voting rights, availability of marijuana, climate change, health care and education are being dealt with. Remember, in our federal system the state controls much that impacts on our lives. The federal government impacts on our daily lives much less. The only way for a state law to be changed is if it is altered by the state legislature, the state court system or the US Supreme Court.
What is particularly scarey about this is that incredibly important laws are being passed in many states regarding the issues I noted above, and we aren’t even paying attention. Suffice it to say that the rights you have in California are quite different than the rights you have in Texas. Oh, you thought we lived in the United States of America. We do. And we continue to have basic liberties as guaranteed by the Constitution. However, the impact of what the state is doing is on the quality of life. Before we claim any victories in the “big show”, we had better make sure we are not losing the really important battles being fought in our own back yard. Let’s not allow ourselves to be distracted by the magicians in the GOP.