America’s Response to the Coronavirus Proves Federalism Isn’t Dead

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks to the media as U.S. Army personnel look at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan, which will be partially converted into a hospital for patients affected by the coronavirus outbreak, March 23, 2020. (Mike Segar/Reuters)
Previously marginalized state and local governments have taken the lead in fighting the present pandemic.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE A lexis de Tocqueville’s America was supposed to be long gone. Seeing political centralization as the great woe of the French state — which had been periodically wracked by violent instability since 1789, and would be again in 1848 — the young French aristocrat found a possible cure in the highly decentralized system of Jackson-era American government. Political life, he wrote, was overwhelmingly concentrated at the local level, where town meetings still decided most matters of significance. Counties were administrative divisions that mostly existed on paper, state governors were kept on an extremely tight leash, and the federal government was still

Nick Burns writes on international politics for The American Interest and other publications.


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