tyson114_MARK FELIXAFP via Getty Images_voting Mark Felix/AFP via Getty Images

The Local Threat to American Democracy

The interests of voters in predominantly Democratic-leaning US cities are being trampled by Republican state-level leaders and their business supporters. Through "preemption" measures, ballot and voting restrictions, gerrymandering, and other schemes, America continues to be threatened by entrenched minority rule.

BERKELEY – As Texas swoons under an unprecedented heatwave, its governor has signed a “preemption” bill to strip cities like Houston and Dallas from setting standards for local workplaces – including guaranteed water breaks for outdoor workers. The “Texas Regulatory Consistency Act” bars municipal governments from enacting policies that go beyond state law in eight broad areas and voids existing city and local laws that do so. Cities will be subject to lawsuits and damages for discrepancies between their policies and those of the state.

That means the interests of voters in the state’s predominantly Democratic-leaning cities are being trampled by Republican state-level leaders and their business supporters. Worse, the Texas bill is merely the latest in a series of measures by states to preempt the authority of local governments and overrule their voters.

The aim here is both to eliminate specific laws and to decimate local governments’ ability to regulate areas traditionally under their remit. Around the country, preemption is being used to force a deregulatory ideology onto liberal-leaning cities, with the number of such bills having soared from 140 in 2017 to more than 1,000 in 2022 (the number for this year has already hit 650).

To continue reading, register now.

Subscribe now for unlimited access to everything PS has to offer.


As a registered user, you can enjoy more PS content every month – for free.