States with poor climate policy ‘overlap’ with those seeking to limit rights, Kamala Harris says
On Monday, President Donald Trump gave a shout-out to the “Great States” in his State of the Union address. He argued that while the country is now “stronger than ever,” he would “never forget” how much of a difference a lot of the states that backed him in 2016 represented.
“Great states like Florida, Texas, North Carolina, and others. And a whole lot of small states,” he said.
He continued: “A lot of people don’t understand it, but they were against us. And some of them never will be. We’re going to have great relationships with all of them.”
The comment set off a Twitter response from Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., who fired a round of shots back that the “Trump effect on the great states” couldn’t be undone. “It’s not that Democrats are wrong about what has happened in the past,” she wrote on Twitter, adding that the GOP shouldn’t be taking credit for their successes. “That’s what makes it so disappointing that the Trump effect on the great States is so hard to undo.”
The comment from Harris has drawn fire from the left as well as the right. For Democrats, it’s been a call to arms that exposes a clear and simple line between “progressives” and people pushing limits on civil liberties. Harris’s argument relies on a fundamental misunderstanding of how states work, and misunderstands what the term “progressivism” means.
“We have a long history of progressive states,” says David Wasserman, a political science professor at the University of Virginia. “But, in fact, that historical record doesn’t support the idea that states, at least on a political level, are any sort of ‘all-purpose’ democratic-political-society-stewardship tool for addressing poverty, economic inequality, health care, education, immigration and so on.
For instance, states don’t have a “right” to enact laws restricting abortion, Wasserman says — but they do have a right to not be compelled to do so by the