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This dynamic is much less powerful at the national level, because individuals are much more reluctant to leave their country than their state.When it comes to social policy, the preferences of individuals loom even larger than with economic policies.
Some people are “fair weather federalists” who only assert the virtues of federalism when they lack the votes in Congress for the national policies they prefer. The federalism of our constitutional order has yielded some enormous advantages for protecting the rights retained by the people. If the federal government only has the power to provide for the common defense as well as to protect the free flow of commerce between states, along with a few other specific tasks, most of the laws affecting the liberties of the people will be made at the state level.
Not only is it next to impossible to influence any particular policy by casting one’s individual ballot, it is also impossible to separate that policy from others in the “package” offered by one of the two contending political parties.
By contrast, as Ilya Somin explains, when voting with one’s feet by moving to another city or state, one has far greater control over the results. Each person can individually control the state in which they live by selecting from among fifty choices, not just two.
To garner an understanding of American federalism, American water policy, and the relationship between them, I utilized a comparative analysis of both the history of water policy and federalism in America.
Following this history, I offer an analysis for understanding the state and federal levels of water policy.