From the Right



States' rights are so last month

Debra Saunders on

WASHINGTON -- On Wednesday morning, President Donald Trump did what he does worst -- he took to Twitter to type two tweets that threatened to withhold federal funds from Michigan and Nevada because he doesn't like what state officials are doing to facilitate mail-in voting.

Where to begin?

For one thing, it's odd to watch a president claim that states can't manage their elections after he just spent the past two months telling America that only governors have the authority to mandate social distancing policies during a pandemic that has taken the lives of more than 94,000 Americans.

On the coronavirus response, Trump was right about the proper role of states versus Washington. It was refreshing to see a president not engage in executive overreach, but instead, let each state find its own way through the coronavirus storm.

But when it comes to Trump and states' rights, we conservatives can't have nice things for long.

No coincidence: Trump's regard for states' autonomy died at the border of two states that could be pivotal in the 2020 election.


Trump beat Hillary Clinton in Michigan in 2016 by a nose of 0.3 percentage points. Clinton beat Trump by 2 percentage points in Nevada, but the Nevada GOP is banking on a robust hi-tech get-out-the-vote effort to flip Nevada red.

The law is not on Trump's side. As election lawyer and Las Vegas native Allison Hayward told me, "States run elections and, yes, federal elections get consolidated with state and local elections, but states run elections subject to any laws Congress would pass."

Fun fact: There is no federal law against mail-in voting.

That's a good thing. If Washington decided to mandate how America votes, I don't think it would improve the experience.


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