Why is it so easy to push cities around?

Despite elections and trials and pandemics, some things don’t seem to ever change. The national government pushes around state governments, with mixed amounts of success, and state governments push around city governments, usually with near-total success. It’s consistent.

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Opinion

February 19, 2021 - 1:29 PM

Despite elections and trials and pandemics, some things don’t seem to ever change. The national government pushes around state governments, with mixed amounts of success, and state governments push around city governments, usually with near-total success. It’s consistent.

In the former case, the Republican party deserves credit (or blame) for limiting the success of the national government–which has far more financial resources than any state, as well as the Constitution’s supremacy clause on its side — when it comes to claims of authority.

For over a half-century, the modern GOP has mostly embraced a reading of American federalism focused on the power of states and state legislatures, and they’ve supported that reading with money and votes. The result has been an intrenchment of politically effective state-level “veto points,” where the states have been able to slow or stop policies pursued by nationally elected leaders, sometimes even wresting federal policy power away for the states entirely.

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