For many years, the Republican Party touted federalist principles that stressed the importance of state control. The underlying idea is straightforward: the government that's closer to the people will be more responsive to the public's needs and interests.
There are about 1,000 good examples of GOP officials discarding these principles when it suits the party's purposes. As of this morning, there are about 1,001.
President Donald Trump on Wednesday barred California from setting its own vehicle emissions standards, kicking off a battle that is likely to last well beyond the 2020 presidential election.
"The Trump Administration is revoking California's Federal Waiver on emissions in order to produce far less expensive cars for the consumer, while at the same time making the cars substantially SAFER," Trump tweeted Wednesday morning, noting that the move will lead to "older, highly polluting cars" being replaced by "new, extremely environmentally friendly cars."
If you're new to this story, let's review how we got here because it's quite a story.
To address the climate crisis, the Obama administration created tough fuel-efficiency standards for the auto industry, to be phased in gradually. Manufacturers, not surprisingly, weren't thrilled, but there was a broad realization that the policy, in conjunction with a series of related efforts, would make a positive difference.
Then Donald Trump got elected. Last summer, the Republican White House announced plans to roll back the tougher standards, making it easier for the automotive industry to sell less efficient vehicles that pollute more.
The president assumed he was helping the industry at the expense of the environment -- a trade-off Trump was happy to make since he rejects climate science anyway. What the White House didn't anticipate was the fact that auto manufacturers concluded that Trump's anti-climate plans went too far. In fact, in early June, most of the industry urged the administration to change course, because its plan would produce "untenable" instability.
Why? Because Trump's plan to gut pollution safeguards was so drastic that many states announced plans to enforce stricter emissions standards on their own. That included California -- home to the nation's largest consumer base.
The result was a mess: car manufacturers, which had already begun taking steps to comply with the Obama-era policy, faced the prospect of having to make different vehicles to sell in different parts of the country. Not surprisingly, no one saw that as a sustainable business model.