turf wars
Keep an Eye on the Blue City-Red State Showdown

The jurisdictional turf war that has gotten the most press since the Presidential election is the one between the unified Republican government in Washington and the blue states along the coasts. But red states, mostly in the South, are engaged in a struggle for authority of their own as they try to put the brakes on progressive legislation in their own rebellious blue cities. The Tennessean reports on a representative example:

Nashville and Memphis received great fanfare last fall from criminal justice advocates for passing local ordinances that gave police the power to reduce penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

But now it’s over after just seven months.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam on Wednesday signed into law Republican-backed legislation to repeal separate Nashville and Memphis laws that had allowed partial marijuana decriminalization in those communities, officially putting an end to the short-lived policies.

The state vs. local showdown is even more intense in Texas, where Gov. Greg Abbott recently said, “for us to be able to continue our legacy of economic freedom, it was necessary that we begin to speak up and to propose laws to limit the ability of cities to California-ize the great state of Texas,” according to Governing magazine.

As geographic polarization becomes more pronounced, with Democrats dominating metropolitan centers and the GOP becoming increasingly uncontested in the countryside, conflicts between red states and progressive cities within their borders are likely to become more frequent.

But while states like California that challenge the U.S. government in the age of Trump actually have a chance of winning some victories under America’s federalist architecture, localities are not sovereign and don’t have the same kind of legal or political recourse. That means that in the long run, big cities in red states, no matter how liberal their populations, will be prevented from moving as far to the Left as their counterparts in places like New York and Illinois.

If residents don’t like it, they always have the option of voting with their feet…

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