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Monday, September 05, 2005

CONSERVATIVES: Is There a Lesson for Conservatives in Katrina Response?

Joe Carter of Evangelical Outpost thinks New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagins and Lousiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco bear the primary responsibility for the evacuation disaster that befell the Big Easy, but he also sees a larger lesson for conservatives. It is not a lesson likely to be greeted with enthusiasm by many on the Right:

"What is most distressing about the situation, though, is not that a mayor failed to lead but that the principle of subsidiarity was already in place and yet failed to be implemented. Mayor Nagin and Governor Kathleen Blanco deserve the primary blame for the fiasco in New Orleans. But the larger failure belongs to conservatives.
"Principles such as subsidiarity, federalism, and limited government are often considered cornerstones of conservative political thought. But when it comes to their actual implementation they are merely given lip-service.

"While aspiring young politicos sing the praises of states-rights, they prefer to do so on Capital Hill or in D.C. think tanks rather than in the choirs of their state legislatures or local governments. The very idea that our most competent conservative statesmen should be working in their actual states rather than in Washington is considered ludicrous.
"After all, everyone knows that state and local governments are reserved for the also-rans and has-beens rather than for the able and ambitious. Any job in FEMA, for instance, is considered superior to working in the New Orleans’s Office of Emergency Preparedness.
"But mayor’s offices, city councils, and state legislatures all join the 'little platoons' that serve as our first line of defense when natural or man-made disasters strike. So why then are we not working to put our best and brightest into these offices?

"Why do push them to take jobs as Senatorial aides rather than as state senators? Why do we lead them to roles as assistants to assistant directors in the Department of Education rather than as leaders on county school boards? Why do we put our rhetoric behind the local and yet but our faith in the federal?"

I wonder what others think of Carter's point? Is it premature? Is it off-base? Is it realistic, given the dominant position of the federal government in our system for the past half-century?