Great post on Tacitus on state’s rights, and the rising tide of states excercising power and taking policy issues into their own hands.
I’ve been a huge supporter of this idea, though not for political reasons as most of the (dozens of) people who commented at Tacitus did. One reason is diversity, which was spelled out rather nicely by a number of commenters. This is both support for diversity of individuals, as well as the ability for states to react to their own, differing circumstances.
The other reason is more darwinian. We’ve got hard problems to solve and we’re better off having a number of groups try to solve them and see if anyone succedes, rather than have one giant attempt and pray that it works. As a country I believe this approach makes the US much more robust and allows it to progress at an overall faster rate, though individual states may stumble momentarily on specific issues.
A good example of this was welfare reform, where Wisconsin and other states took some radical approaches which led the way to some new ideas on how to make welfare better.