John Donahue

John D. Donahue is an associate professor at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Recent Articles

The Devil in Devolution

Turning power back to the states has gained wide support. But there's a reason for national decisions: One state's solution may aggravate another state's problems.

Adapted by the author from Disunited States , © 1997 John D. Donahue. Published by permission of Basic Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. T he shift in government's center of gravity away from Washington and toward the states—a transition propelled by both popular sentiment and budget imperatives, and blessed by leaders in both major parties—reflects an uncommon pause in an endless American argument over the balance between nation and state. That argument got underway when the Framers gathered in Philadelphia to launch a second attempt at nationhood, after less than a decade's dismal experience under the feeble Articles of Confederation. The Constitution they crafted was a compromise between those who wanted to strengthen the ties among essentially autonomous states, and those who sought to establish a new nation to supersede the states as the locus of the commonwealth. While anchoring the broad contours of state and federal roles, the Framers left it to their...