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How Trump is destroying the GOP

By Robert B. Reich, Tribune Content Agency on

States' rights used to be the second pillar of Republican thought.

For decades, Republicans argued that the Constitution's 10th Amendment protected the states from federal meddling. They used states' rights to resist desegregation; to oppose federal legislation protecting workers, consumers and the environment; and to battle federal attempts to guarantee marriage rights for gays and lesbians.

In 2013, when the Supreme Court relied on states' rights to strike down the heart of the Voting Rights Act, then-Sen. Jeff Sessions, the GOP's leading advocate of states' rights, broke out the champagne, calling it "good news."

But after a year of Trump, Republicans have come around to thinking that states have few, if any, rights.

As attorney general, Sessions has green-lighted a federal crackdown on marijuana in states that have legalized it. He and Trump are also blocking sanctuary cities from receiving federal grants. (A federal judge recently stayed Trump's executive order on the grounds that it violates the 10th Amendment, but Trump and Sessions are appealing the decision.)

Trump is also seeking to gut California's tough environmental rules. His Department of the Interior is opening more of California's federal land and coastline to oil and gas drilling, and Trump's EPA is moving to repeal new restrictions on a type of heavily polluting truck that California was going to ban in order to help meet its climate and air-quality goals.

 

Meanwhile, the Republican-controlled House has approved the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, which would prevent states from enforcing their own laws against concealed handguns in instances where visitors come from states that allow concealed weapons.

For the new GOP, states' rights be damned. Now it's all about consolidating power in Washington under Trump.

The third former pillar of Republicanism was a hard line on Russian aggression.

When Obama forged the New START treaty with Moscow in 2010, Republicans in Congress charged that Vladimir Putin couldn't be trusted to carry out any arms control agreement.

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