Gerken’s Vox article actually underscores this point very well, even if perhaps unintentionally. Many of her suggested strategies for resisting Trump implicitly depend on constitutional limits on federal power for their effectiveness. For example, her (and my) recommendation that sanctuary cities should refuse to cooperate with federal deportation efforts relies on Supreme Court decisions forbidding federal “commandeering” of state and local governments. Otherwise, Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress could simply enact laws ordering the states to comply, and potentially imposing severe punishment on officials who refuse to do so.
Ultimately, the greatest threat to both unpopular minorities and many other groups is a largely unconstrained federal government dominated by their political enemies. In a diverse and increasingly polarized society with deep reservoirs of partisan hatred, both right and left have much to fear from such concentrated power. Recent political history shows that neither side can hope to stave off the threat by establishing a stranglehold over Washington that eliminates the possibility that the other will return to power. Rigorous enforcement of tight constitutional constraints on federal authority cannot completely eliminate the danger posed by the combination of polarization and the vast power of the modern state. But it can make it less menacing than it would be otherwise.
I don’t expect Gerken and myself to reach a complete meeting of the minds on constitutional federalism questions. Still less do I expect the emergence of a more general cross-ideological consensus on the subject anytime soon. But it should be possible to narrow some of the differences, and to recognize that many on both right and left from keeping a tighter constitutional leash on federal power.