Progressives' new-found love for states' rights

These examples and others, of course, demonstrate that neither conservatives nor liberals display much consistent principle on this question of where decisions ought properly be made. GOP champions of local autonomy suddenly favor state supremacy over minimum wages. And immigration is obviously a matter for strictly federal control in conservative eyes — except that it wasn’t back when Arizona was trying to enforce tougher immigration restrictions than Obama-era Washington wanted.

Liberals want it both ways, too. Locals apparently know best how to regulate wages (or guns or plastic), but grade school bathroom policies for the whole country needed to be decreed by the Obama White House.

No doubt some decisions by their very nature are best made locally, and others better resolved nationally. But as in many disputes over decisionmaking processes, the temptation is great to simply see the virtue of grass-roots decisionmaking whenever it seems likely that a grass-roots decision is going to go your way — while the value of a bigger-picture view, and of the voice of the whole community being heard, is clearer when state or federal action is more apt to yield the policy you happen to favor.

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