Scrolling Headlines:

UMass football readies for season-opener against Hawaii -

August 22, 2017

UMass women’s soccer falls to Central Connecticut 3-0 in home opener -

August 19, 2017

Preseason serves as opportunity for young UMass men’s soccer players -

August 13, 2017

Amherst Fire Department website adds user friendly components and live audio feed -

August 11, 2017

UMass takes the cake for best campus dining -

August 11, 2017

Two UMass students overcome obstacles to win full-ride scholarships -

August 2, 2017

The guilt of saying ‘guilty’ -

August 2, 2017

UMass tuition set to rise 3-4 percent for 2017-2018 school year -

July 18, 2017

PVTA potential cuts affect UMass and five college students -

July 10, 2017

New director of student broadcast media at UMass this fall -

July 10, 2017

Whose American Dream? -

June 24, 2017

Man who threatened to bomb Coolidge Hall taken into ICE custody -

June 24, 2017

Cale Makar drafted by Colorado Avalanche in first round of 2017 NHL Entry Draft -

June 24, 2017

Conservatives: The Trump experiment is over -

June 17, 2017

UMass basketball lands transfer Kieran Hayward from LSU -

May 18, 2017

UMass basketball’s Donte Clark transferring to Coastal Carolina -

May 17, 2017

Report: Keon Clergeot transfers to UMass basketball program -

May 15, 2017

Despite title-game loss, Meg Colleran’s brilliance in circle was an incredible feat -

May 14, 2017

UMass softball loses in heartbreaker in A-10 title game -

May 14, 2017

Navy sinks UMass women’s lacrosse 23-11 in NCAA tournament second round, ending Minutewomen’s season -

May 14, 2017

Why Democrats should embrace states’ rights

(Daniel Mennerich/ Flickr)

(Daniel Mennerich/ Flickr)

The term “states’ rights” has historically been rather divisive across the political spectrum. Conservatives and libertarians tend to see it as a core part of their philosophy of small government, whereas liberals often see it as a dog-whistle racist term alluding back to the era of Jim Crow laws. The right sees states’ rights as the proper vehicle to fight the overreach of federal government, while the left tends to see a strong federal government as more effective at bringing about social change.

However, with the news of Donald Trump’s upset victory in the 2016 election, we may begin seeing a change to this paradigm. Over the next four years, the Democratic Party may start paying lip service to the idea of states’ rights, in the same way that the way the Republican Party has been doing for the past eight years.

This doesn’t represent any core shift in ideology. In fact, Republican appeal to states’ rights has been mainly ideological, whereas any Democratic interest has been chiefly out of pragmatism rather than any overarching belief that smaller, more local government is better. Instead, liberals tend to support local initiatives when they know the federal government cannot provide what they want. In 2013, for instance, the idea of legalizing recreational cannabis and gay marriage had decent support from liberals who believed that there was not enough momentum to advance these at the federal level.

Now that the presidency, House, Senate and (presumably) Supreme Court are going to be under Republican rule for the next few years, Democrats may find themselves courting the states’ rights strategy to advance their agendas. This is already an uphill battle: as of November 2016, the GOP also has a clear overall advantage in terms of state representatives. However, states like California and Massachusetts, which tend to be overwhelmingly Democratic at the state level, may find themselves pushing new Democratic agendas that would otherwise be reserved for the federal level.

This might actually turn out to be beneficial for Democrats. At the national level, the left is forced to make their message more moderate to appeal to general election voters. This was painfully obvious during the presidential primaries, during which the Democratic Party struggled to balance the hard-left message of Bernie Sanders with the centrist approach of Hillary Clinton. However, when it comes to states’ rights, states like Massachusetts and California can afford to push laws that would be palatable to liberals but which would not be quite as popular at a national level. Romneycare is perhaps the most striking example to Massachusetts residents, but the idea still holds for other issues as well.

Of course, this swings both ways. Democratic states can choose to focus on pushing more states’ rights agendas that would be unfavorable to general Republicans, but Republican states will also be doing the same, passing laws that most Democrats would not favor. While this means that both parties have the chance to get some of what they want, it’s also a bit worrying that this might further polarize our country, in a time when radical polarization has already rocked our politics on a national level.

Regardless, both Democrats and Republicans ought to focus on restoring power to the states and away from the federal government. While few in the media questioned the massive expansion of federal power under the Obama administration, perhaps they will be more critical now that someone like Trump will be in the White House. This may be just the impetus that America needs to realize the danger of consolidating too much power in a central authority, and the power of giving more control towards local government.

Edridge D’Souza is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at

One Response to “Why Democrats should embrace states’ rights”
  1. David Hunt 1990 says:

    The attention to States Rights, and indeed limitations on federal power and adherence to “The Separation of Powers” will only last until the Dems return to power. Then it will be FULL STEAM AHEAD to concentrate power in Sodom-by-the-Potomac again.

    After all, as former Leftist now Conservative David Horowitz says, “Inside Every Progressive Is A Totalitarian Screaming To Get Out”

Leave A Comment