Already, states are preparing rearguard actions against executive overreach. California has declared that it will remain committed to the Paris climate accords even if Trump, as threatened, pulls the United States out of the global agreement. Just last week the California state legislature hired former attorney general Eric Holder to help craft legal strategies to thwart the Trump agenda. A number of cities have pledged to continue protecting undocumented immigrants from deportation roundups despite Trump’s threats to cut off their federal funding. “The states are where it’s at,” says Carol Rose, director of the Massachusetts Civil Liberties Union. “We are the safe havens of democracy.”

It’s ironic that progressives find themselves looking for decentralized solutions to overweening power in Washington. Federalism, and its coarser cousin “states’ rights,” have long carried a noxious whiff of bigotry because of Southern-state resistance to civil rights and the abolition of slavery. And, since at least the 1960s and President Johnson’s Great Society, liberals have looked to Washington for broad safety-net protections, and to the Supreme Court to confer an ever-widening circle of liberties. Small-government federalists, by contrast, have often pushed local control as a cover for retrograde policies on civil rights and social welfare, including deep budget cuts masquerading as “block grants.”