Essay on Federalism

Essay on Federalism

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Federalism has played a large role in our government since the time that the Constitution was ratified. It originally gave the majority of the power to the states. As time went on, the national government gained more and more power. It used the "necessary and proper" clause of the Constitution to validate its acts, and the Supreme Court made decisions that strengthened the national government creating a more unified United States. Finally, the recent course of federalism has been to give powers back to the states.
Federalism was needed in the Constitution to make sure that the national government did not gain too much power. After the revolution, many people feared a monarchy or any form of government in which the central ruling body had too much power. The framers wanted the states to have much more power than the national government, and allowed the national government power only in areas that concerned the nation as a whole. Areas such as war, negotiation, and foreign commerce were some of the only circumstances in which the national government had absolute power. By limiting the national governments power in this way, the writers felt that they had ensured the sovereignty of the individual states. Also, people have a tendency to feel more connected to their state government than they would a national government. Therefore, by giving the states more power, people are more likely to be happy with their government. Federalist papers 45 and 46 are both arguments by James Madison as to why the people should not be afraid of the proposed Constitution and the powers it entailed regarding the national government. In paper 45, he shows that without the state legislatures a president cannot be elected. The same is true for the Senate and the House of Representatives. Madison also stated in paper 45 that the number of tax collectors that the national government will have compared to the number employed by the state governments is very small. The powers given to the national government under the Constitution would be few in number and their purpose would be specifically defined so that those powers could not be overstepped. At the same time, the powers of the state governments are abundant and not specifically defined, clearly swaying the balance of power towards the states. Federalist paper 46 is essentially an extension of the points made in 45. It say...


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...nt that that person receives. This is one more way that the national government has allowed the states to gain more power. Many national programs were eliminated or changed by the Welfare Reform Act, such as Aid to Families with Dependant Children, and the Food Stamp Program. Child welfare and child protection programs kept funding during the whole process. Mandates granted to states that act in ways desirable to the national government in the Welfare Reform Act get more funding. It also said that states could not allow people to stay on welfare for more than five years.

Federalism has evolved a great deal since it was first incorporated into our Constitution. Many court cases; acts of Congress, and presidential policies have changed the shape of Federalism in the last 200 years. It seems as if the United States version of Federalism will be an ever-changing institution whose structure relies on Supreme Court decisions and many other factors. It is even changing as we speak, due to the result of the recent terrorist attacks on our country. Although a drastic change in the United States form of Federalism in the near future may not seem evident, the possibility is always present.

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