Michael Doonan

Michael Doonan teaches at Brandeis University's Heller School and is executive director of the Massachusetts Health Policy Forum

Recent Articles

Opportunistic Federalism and a Liberal Resurgence

Conservatives have long used federalism to their advantage. Progressives should too. 

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, left, touts his proposal for free tuition at state colleges to hundreds of thousands of low- and middle income residents. Cuomo is joined by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, center, and Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of The City University of New York William C. Thompson. C ivil, political, and economic rights need to be protected nationally. It is absurd to live in a nation where fundamental safeguards are contingent on state residency. When progressives hear federalism and “states’ rights,” they cringe and rightfully so. Historically, arguments for states’ rights were used to thwart civil rights and maintain racial oppression. Conversely, since the progressive era, through the New Deal and the Great Society, federal governmental power was used to expand these rights and broaden social opportunity. But today, American federalism has changed. Today conservatives use government power opportunistically. When it’s convenient to...