There's a wonderful exchange in "A Man for All Seasons" in which
Roper: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law!
More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
Roper: I'd cut down every law in
More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast -- man's laws, not God's -- and if you cut them down -- and you're just the man to do it -- do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law for my own safety's sake.
As partisans continue to retreat to their corners to either weep or gloat about the election results and what's in store from a Trump presidency, this is a helpful little sermon to keep in mind.
"Turnabout is fair play" is a deeply human sentiment. In politics, it's both tedious and fun, because while reciprocity is satisfying, hypocrisy is annoying. For instance, when Republicans take control of the
While "You did it, so now we can too" is a perfectly natural attitude, it encourages cynicism precisely because it renders principles into arguments of convenience.
When President Obama was testing -- and exceeding -- the limits of his constitutional powers, liberals grabbed their pompoms and cheered. Now that
Regardless, that excerpt from "A Man for All Seasons" is not intended to imply that Trump is the devil -- or that Obama is. Suffice it to say that one partisan's devil is another partisan's angel. I'm more interested in breaking the cycle and seizing an opportunity.
One of my most cherished principles is the importance of localism, subsidiarity or what is most commonly called federalism. The idea is pretty simple: People on the ground in their own communities have a better understanding of how they want to live and what they want from government. Local politicians are easier to hold accountable, and culture-war arguments aren't abstractions when the combatants have to look each other in the eye.
Normally, under Democratic presidents, liberals treat any discussion of federalism as code for wanting
You see, under Republican presidents, many liberals suddenly discover the benefits of "progressive federalism" -- as some called it under
And guess what? I don't care about the hypocrisy. What I want is buy-in.
This is a rare and ripe moment for conservatives and libertarians to convert progressives to a good idea. And why shouldn't they? Much progressive thought centers around notions of social solidarity and community. Liberal millennials and hipsters are receptive to the idea that the feds shouldn't regulate their stinky cheeses, raw milk, micobrews and weed. Personally, I think "sanctuary cities" are legal bunk, but the idea that localities should have the maximum allowable autonomy within the boundaries of the Constitution is perhaps the best way to maximize freedom and happiness.
The trick, however, is not just to convince liberals that local autonomy is good for them in the era of Trump. It is to get them on record that this is also acceptable for conservatives when the winds change direction and it's their devil in the