As the 2012 presidential campaign got underway, the nation needed — and much of the country wanted — an adult discussion about the size and scope of government. In political science, this subject is known as federalism. It’s the turf battle between local, state, and federal government.
In the era of the Tea Party, federalism has acquired an even more expansive meaning. How much government involvement in daily life does the Constitution allow for? How much do Americans want? How much they are willing to pay for? These are the cosmic questions everyday Americans are arguing about, along with the associated question of which major political party is best suited to arbitrate these issues.
Instead, U.S. voters have been subjected to a nine-month barrage of witless blather — often in the form of negative TV ads or ad hominem personal attacks — about Mitt Romney’s taxes and religion, Ann Romney’s horse, the Romney family dog, whether young Barack Obama ate dogs, about grown-up Barack Obama’s accent, whether Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren is part Cherokee, whether her opponent Scott Brown and other Republicans are waging a “war on women,