Scott Tibbs

Sometimes values compete with each other

By Scott Tibbs, May 2, 2023

One of the more prominent criticisms of Republican-run states is that they have not followed the conservative principle of local control: That the government closest to the people should have authority to run their local communities as they see fit. And yes, it is true that local control - or "home rule" as it is commonly called in Indiana - is a conservative value.

However, local control is not the only value that conservatives hold or seek to defend. State governments are also responsible for the health and safety of their constituents, and they are also responsible for protecting their legal rights. State government also has an interest in preserving law and order and ensuring public safety. If local government is not fulfilling basic duties, or if they become overbearing in their regulations and restrictions on the lives of private citizens and local businesses, state government can and often does step in and exert its authority to limit local government.

Furthermore, asserting state sovereignty in the face of federal overreach is not the same as local control. The federal government is a creation of the states meant to serve the common interests of the states. Local government is also a creation of state government and given limited authority by the state. The people advocating for "state sovereignty" are not hypocrites when they limit local control.

So, no, state government overriding local government is not automatically a betrayal of conservative values, or an abandonment of the principle of local control in pursuit of political power. It certainly can be that at times, but each case needs to be judged on its own merits. It is myopic - and often dishonest - to trot out the principle of local control while ignoring the reasons why a state government may intervene in the operation of local government.

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