The Late, Great States
Where have all the federalists gone?
Conservatives are not entirely comfortable defending their new approach, but they're heroically committed to it. Trying to justify the Federal Marriage Amendment, former Bush speechwriter David Frum ridicules Democrats waxing eloquent on the subject of state powers. In reality, he insists, "there are no federalists in this debate." In his view, liberals are just using the federalism argument as a stalling tactic until they can impose a single national policy—namely, allowing same-sex marriage. He's on to something: Principled opponents of centralized power have never been found on the left, and they are vanishing on the right as well. When it comes to federalism, we are all liberals now.
Steve Chapman is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune.
Photograph of John Ashcroft by Chip East/Reuters.