Jacob Sullum on Why Conservatives and Progressives Should Unite Against an Overweening National Government


Federalism is often associated with conservatives and libertarians, but on issues ranging from gay rights to medical marijuana, writes Senior Editor Jacob Sullum, federalism can advance progressive causes. Like representative democracy or the federal government's "checks and balances," federalism is a means to an end: By keeping most political decisions at the state and local levels, it promotes responsiveness, diversity, innovation, and competition among jurisdictions. And precisely because federalism is useful to people with different political agendas, Sullum observes, it should be possible to strike a deal: I will not use the federal government to interfere with your local policy choices if you grant me the same leeway.