Kay Bailey Hutchison Says Conservatives Should Keep Democracy Local

Editor's note: This column is part of a series of opinion columns and news articles examining President Donald Trump's first 100 days in office. We asked conservative Texas thinkers to write on the question: What does it mean to be conservative during the Trump administration?I have often been asked in my career: You say you are a conservative; are you very conservative or a moderate conservative? My answer has always been: I am conservative. I'm not extreme, and I am not a moderate.So, what does being a "conservative" mean? I believe less government is best for the long-term growth and prosperity of our country. The writers of the Constitution envisioned a slim federal government, focused on uniquely national issues, such as security, monetary policy, interstate commerce and trade. That includes protecting individual rights, assuring a fair judiciary and the rule of law. After that, the Constitution left wide discretion to the government closest to the people, state and local.For me, conservative means protecting the long-term success of our country with restraint; resisting overreaction to short-term issues that will ultimately result in the heavy hand of government crowding out individual freedoms, creativity and entrepreneurship.So, how do you put this principle into real world governance?· Try to avoid encroaching on states' rights. If a law could best be administered by the state, it should not be passed by Congress. Part of the gridlock in Congress is the simple fact that states and districts are very diverse. Therefore, we should let states operate where the people are closest to exercise oversight.· Exercise common sense. A philosophical underpinning is essential for an elected official, but many issues must be decided with the principle that is achievable. Reality dictates that the diversity of opinions in 50 states requires the best move forward to be one that is passable. This means no one will achieve 100 percent of his or her goal, but the prevailing majority can expect 70 to 80 percent. If a measure can't be passed, the result is 0 percent achieved. Exhibit A of this 0 percent result was the recent attempt by Congress to overhaul the Affordable Care Act. Those who wanted the repeal could not reach a consensus for a major (if not 100 percent) step forward.The New York Times columnist David Brooks recently synthesized the classic theory on the decline of nations: "Great nations start tough-minded and energetic; leading to wealth and power; then affluence and luxury; and finally to decadence and decline."The conservative position should be to maintain the toughness and energy that produced wealth and power with principles intact. This requires flexibility with restraint — plain common sense!This is my definition of conservative, not extreme, not moderate, rather a commitment to keep the values that built our country to sustain its exceptionalism for the long term.Kay Bailey Hutchison is senior counsel with Bracewell and a former U.S. senator from Texas. She wrote this column for The Dallas Morning News.   Continue reading...

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