The Left Rediscovers “States Rights”

Feb 15, 2017

During the first year of the Obama administration, invocations of the Tenth Amendment and the reserved powers of the states by Tea Party activists provoked some left-leaning commentators to accuse them of “sedition.” With Donald Trump now occupying the Oval Office, those roles have been reversed, with erstwhile Tea Party agitators championing centralized executive power, and the Left taking up the “states’ rights” refrain. This is most visible in California, which declared itself “the vanguard of the resistance” even prior to Trump’s inauguration.

“With a Democratic supermajority, the country’s largest immigrant population, and Governor Jerry Brown’s landmark policies on climate change, the state was gearing up for a battle against the Trump administration,” recalls the New Republic. “To that end, the California legislature hired Eric Holder, an attorney general under President Barack Obama, to represent the state in legal fights to come.” The state government and many municipalities are enacting measures intended to nullify federal policies regarding immigration and the environment.

“In a twist of history,” continues the New Republic, “California’s leftist leaders are now embracing state’s rights, decrying Washington as a threat to a local way of life. San Francisco’s lawsuit [against the Trump administration], for example, takes a page from Reagan’s playbook, accusing Trump of `striking at the heart of federalism.’ Brown has warned members of the new administration to `keep their hands off,’ while state Senate President Kevin de Leon is vowing `to protect the values of the people of California.’”

“Could a political strategy, devised long ago by California conservatives, be harnessed to defend the state’s progressive values?” asks the publication. A related question would be: Will California long survive the social and economic costs of those “progressive” values?