Federalism encourages states to act as “laboratories of democracy,” wherein states experiment with untested ideas and policies to gauge their effectiveness and potential value elsewhere, including at the federal level. Over the decades, state-level innovations have made dramatic improvements in the lives of millions of people in the areas of social insurance, child labor protections, and health care reform. States continue to take up the mantle of innovation by experimenting with various economic and election-related policies.
However, this mantle of states being laboratories of democracy has not always been used for the public good. Unfortunately, states can also be used as a testing ground for policies that skew political and economic power toward corporations or billionaires and away from everyday Americans. In too many states, this is precisely what is happening today.The above excerpt was originally published in Center for American Progress.