Americans are rightly upset with political leaders who are more interested in partisan politics and scoring ideological points rather than serving their country. The underlying problem is the political elite's deeply held belief that the federal city exists to write the rules for the rest of us to live by.
That conceit is the root of all political evil in America.
It leads to a mentality that everything worth deciding in our nation must be decided by an entrenched Political Class in Washington. With so much power concentrated among a relatively small number of people — and with so much money trying to influence them — corruption has become the norm.
The only way to clean up this mess is to empower the middle class by moving more of our nation's decision-making authority closer to Main Street and the proverbial kitchen table. This approach has the added virtue of making pragmatic problem solving more important than politics.
A simple example can be seen in the debate over the minimum wage.
Liberal economists believe that increasing the minimum wage would be good for the economy. Conservative economists disagree. They say that a higher minimum wage would reduce the number of jobs available. Both sides have good theories, but neither side has any proof that they are right.
In a world where all decisions are made in Washington, the rules are set by partisan activists picking one theory over the other. An unrepresentative Congress and faceless bureaucrats stake out positions determined by political jockeying more than anything else. When all is said and done, there's no way to know if they've made the right choice or if it even matters. Partisans on both sides keep refighting the same issue year-after-year.
But there is a better way.
On this issue, if the rules were set on a state-by-state basis, things would be much different.
The minimum wage for Montana or Kansas might be much different than the minimum for New York or California. That's common sense, not theory. There might also be experimentation with related issues. Should the minimum wage be lower for teenagers? Higher for seniors?
Most importantly, though, rather than considering competing theories, this approach would allow the American people to compare actual results. That's pragmatism. People could see what policies work and what policies don't. States that make the right decisions would attract more people. Those with less effective policies would see people moving out.
The real beauty is that this approach takes the ultimate decision-making authority entirely out of the political process and empowers ordinary Americans. As citizens voted with their feet, the states with the more harmful policies would adapt and follow the lead of the more successful states.
What would it mean for the minimum wage? I don't know.
But far more important than the specific result is the question of who decides. In fact, that's the most important question in politics. If we get that right, everything else will fall into place.
That's true on every issue from healthcare and education to economic fairness and immigration.
As a nation, we will be better off with pragmatic decisions made close to home by the American people rather than ideological decisions made by politicians in a distant and corrupt capital.
Scott Rasmussen is founder and president of Rasmussen Reports. He is the author of “Mad as Hell: How the Tea Party Movement Is Fundamentally Remaking Our Two-Party System,” “In Search of Self-Governance,” and “The People’s Money: How Voters Will Balance the Budget and Eliminate the Federal Debt.” Read more reports from Scott Rasmussen — Click Here Now.