Both Republicans and Democrats praise states as “laboratories of democracy” when they don’t hold the White House or Congress. Once in power in Washington, they rediscover their affinity for centralization and federal mandates.
Now, though, in an era of New Localism and widespread local and regional efforts to address persistent national challenges, a renewed approach to flexible federalism is needed. The next and future presidents need a framework for flexible federalism that permits them to encourage local innovation, empower regional leaders, and help share and spread lessons.
So, the president can’t do it all in terms of opening up more space for local innovation. But perhaps the federal government can lead the way, setting an example for the states. What might a framework for flexible federalism look like and how might it be applied?
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