I believe that a government founded on subsidiarity, in which matters are handled at the lowest competent level, gives citizens greater power to affect affairs at all levels. As affairs are run now, local governments do little more than tax and spend (waste, actually) while providing some useful services, state governments tax, borrow, and spend without providing much of any use, and the federal government taxes, borrows, spends, and involves us in illegal wars. Of the three, state government is least responsive to the will of the people who elected its members. The federal government is more responsive, but mostly to lobbies, not voters.
Under a system of subsidiarity, instead of trying to being a fat, lazy nanny, the federal government would be a lean machine that does a few things reasonably well, or at least better than lower levels of organization could do them. Right now, it’s a jack of all trades and master of none.
Under a system of subsidiarity, state governments would be responsible for more actual governance. As such, voters would (hopefully) take more interest in its actions, and those elected would be more responsive to the people for whom they actually provide meaningful services.
Under a system of subsidiarity, local governments probably wouldn’t have to change much, but voters might begin to take more interest in their affairs.
Under a system of subsidiarity, voters would have greater power to affect affairs at all levels. Why? Because they would have direct representation at all levels, and those levels would divvy up responsibilities in a more sensible fashion. Technically, we already have direct representation at all levels. In practice, though, those levels have poorly distributed powers and responsibilities, leading voters to care most about the level that affects them most. Right now that level is the federal government, which is growing by leaps and bounds, arrogating more powers to itself with every passing moment. That means that the effective representation voters have is limited to the members of the legislative and executive branches of the federal government. As I’ve said, these elected officials are more responsive to wealthy lobbies than average citizens, so even the most powerful governing body in our lives doesn’t give a damn what we think.
The US Constitution provides for a federal government with carefully limited powers, leaving the rest to the states, and Ron Paul has defended those provisions without wavering. The federal government’s powers have grown well beyond those provisions, resulting in unchecked spending, unpopular wars, and infringements of civil and human rights. My vote for Ron Paul will be a vote to cut government waste, stop preemptive “police actions”, defend the Bill of Rights, and return power to those whom governments are supposed to serve, their citizens. If instead of this sham of a republic, powers were handled at the lowest competent level, and according to the stipulations of the US Constitution, the effective degree of representation would more closely match the theoretical degree. That is, individual voters’ ability to affect matters would be measurable by the number of offices they can elect people to.
On a personal note, I’ve grown increasingly sick of the stranglehold that the major parties have on the government and the resultant feeling that my interests aren’t represented regardless of who I vote for. I’m an “extreme moderate”, a purple-stater, with enough opinions on both ends of the political spectrum to irritate monochromatic members of either side. Since PA has closed primaries, I change parties as needed in the hope of affecting the outcome of elections that matter to me. Ron Paul isn’t strictly speaking an independent candidate, but he’s the closest I’ve seen any major-party member come to representing the best interests of common Americans without catering to special interests, toeing the party line, or flip-flopping in response to polls. He’s a consistent supporter of citizen’s rights and limited, responsible government. That’s why he has supporters from all over the spectrum, and it’s why he has my support. For the first time since registering to vote, I’m actually excited to support a candidate who has the potential to bring respectability and accountability back to the Washington.
In conclusion I’ll mention that learning about Ron Paul and taught me a lot about the merits of constitutional libertarianism. I’m still fed up with the two-party system, but at least I have a clearer set of guiding principles to take into the voting booth. I’ll be voting for a lot more “small l” libertarians in the future.