Proponents of Prop A have been selling a tainted bill of goods to grassroots conservatives. Supposedly, 'local control' of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department represents the purest of Jeffersonian principles, identified in this quote:
It is by dividing and subdividing these republics, from the great national one down through all its subordinations, until it ends in the administration of every man's farm by himself; by placing under every one what his own eye may superintend, that all will be done for the best. What has destroyed liberty and the rights of man in every government, which has ever existed under the sun? The generalizing and concentrating all cares and powers into one body...
Notice the "..." at the end there. I mention this because this is how one individual, representing an organization funded to promote issues such as Prop A, has presented it. Well, as it turns out, this quote has been taken completely out of context, in order to sell that tainted bill of goods. You see, this quote comes from a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote to one Joseph C. Cabell, and just prior to the aforementioned quote comes this line from Jefferson:
Let the national government be entrusted with the defence [sic] of the nation, and its foreign and federal relations; the State governments with the civil rights, laws, police, and administration of what concerns the State generally; the counties with the local concerns of the counties, and each ward direct the interests within itself. (emphasis added)
Perhaps, the omission was quite innocent, but in light of the amount of money being spent for a statewide referendum that really only relates to the City of St. Louis (and its effect on the surrounding counties), I doubt it.
As I have argued in forums & threads, constitutionally speaking there are only two subdivisions: the national government & the governments of the several states. This relationship is governed by the principle of federalism. And as we all know, the national government is one of limited powers, while the state governments are ones of general powers, as discussed in Federalist #45 & enshrined in the 10th Amendment. Generally speaking, state powers consist of safety, health and education, and include state common law consensus on crime, contract and tort.
The current administration of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police does not violate the principle of federalism, and falls within the state power of safety, consistent with the Missouri Constitution. Since we have established that no constitutional or Jeffersonian principle is at stake in the issue of Prop A, we can conclude that this is an issue of policy, and policy always boils down to partisan politics. So, where did this policy of 'local control' originate? Well, from Mayor Slay and the STL City Democrat Machine. If you think they sit on the same side as you in partisan politics, then you would be doing them a favor by voting for Prop A.
I have my own Jefferson quote for this debate:
...unless the mass retains sufficient control over those entrusted with the powers of their government, these will be perverted to their own oppression, and to the perpetuation of wealth and power in the individuals and their families selected for the trust.
Does Prop A allow the mass to retain sufficient control? Well, we can follow that question with another, "Has the STL City Democrat Machine ever lost an election?" And, lest someone think I was taking a quote out of context, please check on the source. Interestingly, in this same letter, written from Jefferson to Francois Adriaan van der Kemp, we get the following line:
The only orthodox object of government is to secure the greatest degree of happiness possible to the general mass of those associated under it.
What can we glean from this line? Breaking Jeffersonian principle down into baser elements, such as 'local control,' detracts from the primary focus of Jefferson; simply put, "Does this function of government make those it affects happier?" In the case of Prop A, I would have to argue no, in light of the fact that it has already garnered much opposition from conservative grassroots groups & GOP organizations in the STL area which follow:
Tea Party groups:
- St. Louis Tea Party
- K and N Patriots
- Jefferson County Tea Party
- St. Louis City Central Committee
- St. Louis County Central Committee
- Jefferson County Republican Club
- Concord Village/Lemay Township
- Meramec Township
- Gravois Township
- Tesson Ferry Township
- Lewis and Clark Township
- Northwest Township
- Airport Township
- Wild Horse Township
Surely, the debate will continue, but for now: