Centralized government likes to collect power in a centralized point, as Washington DC and Des Moines demonstrate every day. For good reasons, explained by many thoughtful economists and political scientists, libertarians prefer decentralization.
The recent Covid experience is a case in point. Washington wanted to take full control, and repeatedly demonstrated the deficiencies of that approach. Iowa is neither California nor New York, but Washington couldn’t resist telling us every rule should be applied to everyone in the country. As we learned, Washington does not even have the authority, either from our Constitution or from the myriad laws passed since 1788, to do some of the things it wanted to do.
Governors had 50 different ideas. Some were probably good ideas, some were obviously bad ideas, but we were 50 laboratories of experimentation. Common sense and basic arithmetic tells us 50 people working independently on a problem will come up 98% of the time with better solutions than if only 1 person is working on it. It’s called competition, and over the course of time the best ideas will rise to the top and be copied, the bad ideas will disappear.
The same principle applies within Iowa. The solution for my city, Cedar Rapids, is unlikely to be the best solution for my birth town, Postville, or my hometown of Maquoketa.
The idea a legislature in Des Moines will always know what is best for every town and county in Iowa is simply not a credible claim. People who live in Council Bluffs might have a preference for muffins, while people in Dubuque prefer bagels. People in Pella might prefer quiet Sundays, but people in Iowa City might not.
This is why a decentralized approach produces better results. People can make decisions in small groups (towns, cities, counties), and will be happier with them, even if the decisions they reach differ from group to group.
Additionally, people are always physically closer to their local officials than to their state representatives. You might not know your mayor personally, but you only have to drive across town to tell him what’s on your mind. It’s a lot easier than driving to Des Moines, and there’s a much better chance you will actually meet your mayor in person and give her a piece of jawboning.
With very few exceptions the Iowa legislature should not be making laws that apply to everyone in the state, unless it is mandated by the Iowa Constitution. This would include mask mandates, and non-mandate mandates (as in school boards cannot have mask mandates). In my reading of the Iowa Constitution the only thing the state is required to do is provide a court system, a militia, and public education. Everything else should be left to counties and towns.
As clunky as it is, the Iowa Constitution is a very libertarian document and reflects the thoughts of founders who wanted as little government as possible, and as much personal freedom as possible.
Our liberties we prize, and our rights we will maintain
This is best provided by a state that allows local control of local issues.