California's a Brand New Game
Gar Alperovitz sees an upside to Gov. Arnold's increasingly statist economic agenda: a possible federalist revival.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger seems to have grasped the essential truth that no nation—not even the United States—can be managed successfully from the center once it reaches a certain scale. Moreover, the bold proposals that Mr. Schwarzenegger is now making for everything from universal health care to global warming point to the kind of decentralization of power which, once started, could easily shake up America's fundamental political structure.
Governor Schwarzenegger is quite clear that California is not simply another state. "We are the modern equivalent of the ancient city-states of Athens and Sparta," he recently declared. "We have the economic strength, we have the population and the technological force of a nation-state." In his inaugural address, Mr. Schwarzenegger proclaimed, "We are a good and global commonwealth."…
Regional devolution would most likely be initiated by a very large state with a distinct sense of itself and aspirations greater than Washington can handle. The obvious candidate is California, a state that has the eighth-largest economy in the world.
If such a state decided to get serious about determining its own fate, other states would have little choice but to act, too. One response might be for
an area like New England, which already has many regional interstate arrangements, to follow California's initiative—as it already has on some environmental measures. And if one or two large regions began to take action, other state groupings in the Northwest, Southwest and elsewhere would be likely to follow….