“[M]any analysts question whether these initiatives really embody the ‘laboratory of democracy’ ideal of state tinkering or rather reflect a centrally directed model in which states, often at the prodding of national interest groups, serially fall in line behind their party’s national agenda. [Former Arizona Governor Bruce] Babbitt expresses a widespread concern that states have diminished their capacity to genuinely innovate because their every choice is framed through the national partisan struggle. ‘The divergences in the laboratory-of-democracy idea ought to grow out of grassroots experience’ in the states, he says. ‘It’s not the case now. It’s a top-down divergence being driven by national ideological arguments. It’s not an experimental model, and it’s not a very productive exercise.’ Rather than ideas rising from the states to Washington, he says, governors are being ‘conscripted and corrupted into the national political debate.’”
Speaking of conscription: would this be the same Bruce “Grassroots” Babbitt under whose leadership the U.S. Department of Interior engineered a gargantuan expansion of the Endangered Species Act, with the result that tens of thousands of farmers, ranchers, loggers, and other landowners found their property “conscripted for national zoological use” (as Justice Scalia memorably put it in a terrific dissent, see Babbitt v. Sweet Home Chapter (1995))? Yup, that’s him.