Source: Sherman Publications

My Way
Conservative to the world, but liberal locally

by CJ Carnacchio

March 14, 2012

ď(Government) has taken on a vast mass of new duties and responsibilities; it has spread out its powers until they penetrate to every act of the citizen, however secret; it has begun to throw around its operations the high dignity and impeccability of a State religion; its agents become a separate and superior caste; with authority to bind and loose, and their thumbs in every pot. But it still remains, as it was in the beginning, the common enemy of all well-disposed, industrious and decent men.Ē Ė American journalist H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

Iíve been giving some thought lately to a strange breed of political animal that Iíve observed during my 13 years of covering local politics. I donít exactly know what to call them. Hypocrites seems to fit best.

The folks Iím referring to profess to be conservative when it comes to issues involving state and national government, but regarding local matters, they take a decidedly liberal tone in their support of increased taxes and spending.

When you talk about Obama and Congress, theyíll give you an earful about the evils of government-run health care, earmark spending and crippling taxation. Theyíll even show you their Tea Party card.

When you talk about Gov. Rick Snyder, theyíll praise his reform of Michigan government and his willingness to help the business community get back on its feet. Theyíll tell you how glad they are that Granholm is gone and how she and the other Democrats ruined the state.

But when it comes to local issues, these same folks routinely support more millages, more bond debt, more spending, more grandiose taxpayer-financed projects and governmentís insatiable tendency to gobble up more and more land for its own purposes.

Itís as though their self-professed conservatism is only applicable to governments that exist beyond the borders of their community.

Granted, conservatives have always expressed a general preference for local government because we like the fact that itís smaller in size and scope, and closer to the people itís supposed to serve.

But just because itís local doesnít mean itís inherently good and should be supported in all of its endeavors.

From what Iíve seen, local governmentís tendency to waste money, overtax and push for lavish public projects is just as bad Ė and just as natural Ė as that of the federal and state governments.

To me, real conservatives Ė and libertarians, for that matter Ė donít discriminate, government is government.

Whether itís located in the town hall or on Capitol Hill, itís all equally loathsome and contemptible.

Itís all based on the arrogant premise that public officeholders and career bureaucrats know how to better spend our money and exercise our power than we do.

Just because I know the people who sit on my local boards and can see them around town on a daily basis doesnít make me like them or the things they do.

Quite the opposite. I actually detest some of them more than anyone in Washington D.C. or Lansing because Iíve witnessed their true nature and selfish acts firsthand Ė from their endless lies to their covering up of criminal activity to their overweening desire to feed their egos, pad their resumes and add their names to more bronze plaques.

Local government is as much a part of the problem as its big brothers. True conservatives should criticize, monitor and oppose it just as vehemently, not check their principles as they enter their townís limits.