The Corner

Politics & Policy

The GOP Is Better Locally Than Nationally

North Dakota has quietly passed “constitutional carry”:

BISMARCK, N.D. – Governor Doug Burgum today signed legislation allowing law-abiding citizens to carry a concealed handgun if they have possessed a valid North Dakota driver’s license or state ID card for at least a year.

In other words, those who wish to carry a concealed handgun in North Dakota no longer need the state’s permission to do so. North Dakota becomes the seventh state in two years to take this step, and the 13th overall. By the end of this year, that number will likely be 17.

This news broke at the same time as the news that the Republicans had flamed out in the first (maybe last?) attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare. And the contrast underscored something I’ve noticed for a while: At the state level, the GOP has been remarkably effective at ushering in reform over the last seven years; at the federal level, by contrast, it has been able only to hold the line.

This, of course, is partly because the GOP has only just got full control of the federal government, whereas it has been running most of the states for half a decade now. But one can’t help but notice the difference in ambition. At the state level, Republicans have ruthlessly passed right to work legislation, even in unlikely places such as Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin; they have expanded charter schools; they have done yeoman’s work restoring the Second Amendment; they have cut taxes and regulation; and they have enacted as many pro-life measures as the courts have allowed. They have, in other words, lived up to their billing.

At the federal level, meanwhile, they have narrowed their intentions from the get-go. Under Donald Trump, there will be no entitlement reform, and possibly no healthcare reform either; there will likely be a massive, goodie-laden “infrastructure” bill, of the sort that GOP likes to rail against when a Democrat is in the White House; no departments will be shuttered, or radical structural changes made to the federal behemoth; and the promise of tax reform — that is, a substantial change to the way the system works — has already been replaced by “tax cuts.” How strange the difference in achievement between the local and the national.

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