Until recently, federalism was described almost entirely in terms of the relationship between state and federal government. States, we’ve been told, are the “laboratories of democracy,” developing policies and ideas that might eventually be replicated at the national level.
Today, the laboratories of American innovation in business, society and policy are increasingly at the local level. On everything from transportation policy to infrastructure funding, cities have led the way in recent years. Federal policymakers paying attention to local innovation stand to gain by looking at outcomes of local elections and at the policies, ideas and leaders tested and produced locally.