Thompson And Federalism

Fred Thompson has an interesting piece on tort reform at Red State. Thompson stands on the principle of federalism in opposing things like federal caps on tort awards, and defends his position well:

This discussion is not an idle exercise. Republicans have struggled in recent years, because they have strayed from basic principles. Federalism is one of those principles. It is something we all give lip service to and then proceed to ignore when it serves our purposes. During my eight years in the Senate, I tried to adhere to this principle. For me it was a lodestar. Not only was it what our founding fathers created – a federal government with limited, enumerated powers with respect for other levels of government, it also provided a basis for a proper analysis of most issues: “Is this something government should be doing? If so, at what level of government?”

As I understood it, states were supposed to be laboratories that would compete with each other, conducting civic experiments according to the wishes of their citizens. The model for federal welfare reform was the result of that process. States also allow for of diverse viewpoints that exist across the country. There is no reason that Tennesseans and New Yorkers should have to agree on everything (and they don’t).

Those who are in charge of applying the conservative litmus test should wonder why some of their brethren continue to try to federalize more things – especially at a time of embarrassing federal mismanagement and a growing federal bureaucracy. I am afraid that such a test is often based more upon who is favored between two self-serving litigants than upon legal and constitutional principles. Isn’t that what we make all the Supreme Court nominees promise not to do?

Thompson shows a strong grasp of policy issues, and he knows how to work a camera. Should he decide to run (and it seems predestined at this point), he could be a major upset for the rest of the Republican field. We need a principled and articulate defender of conservative ideas in this race, and Thompson fits the bill quite well. Many conservatives seem to be looking at Thompson as a strong contender in 2008, and so far he’s given them every reason to believe he would be.