The Advantages of Federalism

Powerful Essays
The Advantages of Federalism

Federalism was selected as the most appealing system of government in 1787, primarily because of lack of feasible alternatives. Confederacy had been tried by the 13 states under the Articles of Confederation, and found to be lacking, in that it did not provide adequate cohesiveness between the individual nation-states. However, widespread loyalty to state government and identity prevented the adoption of a fully unitary system. Instead, founders chose federalism as a moderate option which could best meet the needs of a people desiring national unity, but demanding local representation and authority as well. Further consideration revealed the multiple benefits of a federalist system. Federalism provides a significant obstacle for absolutism. The various levels of government and their allotted capabilities provide firewalls against the rapid spread of extremism and radical political mutation. The national government has the ability to check such a transformation as it moves from state to state. Each comprises a separate entity, which can be influenced independently of its neighbors. On the flip side, if a certain political party is ousted from the national government, it is still likely to carry support on the state level, preventing ideological annihilation. Thus the capacity for tyranny is curbed no matter where it originates. Federalism supports union without destroying state identity. Issues can be debated on a state level, before they are addressed on a national scale. Local proceedings affect the position which state legislators take on a national scale. Not all states or parties must be in agreement on the national level, and the conclusions reached by individual states can be compared as they relate to the nation as a whole. With federalism, the results of policies enacted on a state level can be examined before being applied on a nationwide scale. This allows states the opportunity to pioneer reform and to take steps in desired directions ahead of the remainder of the country. Again, federalism provides a firewall affect, by limiting the destructive potential of original legislation. If the experiment goes awry, its negative impact is limited to the parent state. Successful enterprises can be readily inspected and adopted by other states as they see fit. Solutions to nationwide issues can be tested on the state level be...

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This bill has many points in common with the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, the Smith Act of 1950, the McCarren Act of 1950, and the Executive Order of Feb.19, 1942 that led to War Relocation Authority. Each one of these actions were taken when fear controlled the public and an agenda controlled the people in authority. Thankfully, the American people have the Constitution and the Bill of Rights to bring them back from the edge, and to force those in positions of responsibility to accountability.

The responsibility of government lies with the governed. If the American people react to trying situations and events in fear, then a general malaise and sense of helplessness will permeate the collective American consciousness. The abdication of personal responsibility erodes liberty, creating an atmosphere of dependency, that leads to bigger government and its pseudo security. Edward Livingston's statement, "If we are ready to violate the Constitution, will the people submit to our unauthorized acts? Sir, they ought not to submit; they would deserve the chains that our measures are forging for them, if they did not resist," serves as a timely warning to Americans today.