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federalism

That Washington is divided is well agreed. Philip Klein asserts that abandoning federalism is a root cause of the division. There is no doubt that expansion of federal power comes largely at the expense of states’ autonomy over their affairs. Federalism allows most issues to be settled at the state level, allowing for the adoption of substantially different policies across individual states. This means that government can be more responsive to differing regional preferences, that individuals with strong preferences can benefit by migrating across state lines, and that states can serve as laboratories for policy experiments. Given that preferences differ regionally and certain protections of states’ rights established by the constitution, there is no question that a consolidation of government functions at the federal level will mean greater difficulty in achieving any legislative agenda. That is a good thing, and it is a good reason to return to the federalist principles of state autonomy and a weak central government. Too often, federalism is supported only when it suits one’s politics.