Free «American History: Federalism» Essay Paper

American History: Federalism

Federalism in the USA is the governmental type characterized by power shared between the local and the federal governments. The USA Constitution gives certain power to the federal government. The states are allowed to enforce laws since they do not violate the Constitution. American states have their own branches of legislative, executive, and judicial power. The federal government determines the issues of national concern such as foreign policy, controls the country’s economy, declares war, etc. American states as sovereign entities are free to control affairs that do not extend beyond their borders. However, many governmental responsibilities are shared by federal and state governments and include taxation, civil rights, business control.

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1) Federalism is a governmental system in which supreme power is constitutionally divided between a central (federal) government and smaller subdivisions (i.e. states). In conformity with the Constitution, governmental power is shared between national and state governments, which create a federation. To begin with, the first years of the country development were characterized by political disputes about the nature of federalism in the USA. The Articles of Confederation gave little power to the federal government that is why federalism was a solution to this problem. For instance, these Articles granted the Congress the power to ratify agreements and announce war, but it was unable to raise taxes to pay for an army and all major resolutions required a like-minded vote (Gerston, 2007). Later, the Constitution was adopted, which was supported by the Federalist movement. The colonies had their government and political system. Every state exercised its own government by unique regulations that might not be applicable to citizens of the other states (Bohm & Haley, 2007). The Federalist party (1792- 1824) left a lasting influence as it formed a strong government with a stable financial base and shaped the policy of Supreme Court for the next decades (Shafer, 2001). Federalism in the USA was first implemented in 1787, with the domination of two kinds of federalism. This is another example of the evolution of the USA federalism. The first one is dual federalism when power is shared between central and state governments in distinctly defined terms, without interference from the central government. The other type of federalism is cooperative federalism when national and state governments act cooperatively to resolve collective problems. After the implementation of the USA Constitution, the state governments were not abolished on condition that states will lose their independence to some degree (Wilson & DiIulio, 2014). A new movement called “New Federalism” appeared at the end of the 20th–in the early 21st century. It was initiated by Ronald Reagan and was characterized by transfer of definite powers from the federal government to the states.

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American Federalism has changed in a way during the USA history, For example, eventually, the power to declare war, sign treaties with international governments, and print money has been transferred to the federal government (Longley, 2012). The states could not any longer control the above mentioned actions. The duties of the state government include the conduction of state elections, establishment of local governments, issues of marriage and driving licenses (Longley, 2012). Both the state and federal governments share coexisting powers, which include taxes, law enforcements, and justice proceedings, but both act within the jurisdiction boundaries. The laws which are created by the state governments are not interfered by the federal government unless they do not violate the Constitution of the USA.

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2) The first and very important issue is that the Constitution of the USA played a very important role in forming of federalism and political behavior. American Constitutionalism helped the USA citizens to value civil rights and democracy. When the federal government was first established, the politicians started to investigate the power limitations of the government. The USA Constitution became the basis of American constitutionality of the politics and the major rule of law in terms of sharing of power between the federal and state government (Wilson & DiIulio, 2014). Political system which is based on federalism fostered respect to democracy in American society. The citizens expect free will and justice from the governments. The second factor is that different political parties have a will to support incompatible ideas, for example, both conservative Republican Party and liberal Democrats are the main political parties in the USA. Another important aspect is that both the governments and the citizens contribute in cultivating federalism and shaping of political changes. Americans also displayed changes in their voting points of view. For instance, the Sothern US States was nicknamed “Solid South,” which meant solid support of the Democratic Party. American Constitution obliges both federal and state governments remain consistent. In addition, with the democracy in the USA, the federal government empowers amendments of the Constitution according to certain political conditions. Also, state governments are enabled to create policies while state government supervises these policies in accordance to the Constitution.

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3) In pursuing policies, state governments may expect ratification or amendments to the Constitution with the help of people’s voting. First, the federal government through Congress will decide if there is a need for votes of the states in suggested amendments. Similar to the state legislative bodies, groups of certain interests may also lobby the legislatures of federal government (Bohm & Haley, 2007). Another factor is that federalism is displayed in both federal and state judicial systems. Similarly, state laws implement driving speed rules in accordance with federal policy in order not to lose the privileges of federal budget. The powers of the federal government cover the national issues and some state affairs. Although state governments have their own constitution, they are obliged to follow the Constitution of the USA. Both governments work together to implement the main concepts of federalism (Wilson & DiIulio, 2014).

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To conclude, federalism is the oldest form of government in the USA. It is a political solution for such large nation with cultural disparity as the USA. The present-day system allowed to build a relationship between the USA states and the federal power and has led to a move towards centralizing government.

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