In America, Federalism came into practice when some states rejected the thought of a unitary government. Due to the large size of the country, the founding fathers allowed states to form powerful governments. State governments are used as a training ground or political labs for policing, where new ideas can be implemented and evaluated (El Camino College N.pag). In Federalism practicing states such as Florida, state government possesses the power of providing safety and public health, regulate interstate commerce, form government and conduct elections. However, Washington still carries the power of printing money, declaring war, establishing an army and creating laws. There are some shared powers too, which includes tax collection, borrowing money, chartering corporations and banks and building highways (Rush 118-184). Federalism in essence means use of dual sovereignty in a region. Both, central and state governments have direct authority and shared responsibilities to govern the state (Ciano N.pag).
How Federalism Helps
Since, the central government tends to cater to national majority, regional government help in ensuring the rights of the minorities remain protected. When the central government threatens the right and beliefs of some of the states, Federalism can be used intervene and provide a counterbalance. Citizens of a state can take pride in being state citizens, having a clearly defined character and culture. In Florida, this applies to the ethnic Latino community who are densely populated in the state. Also, State government and local politicians can respond to the demands of their citizens when the central government keeps them waiting (Dautrich & Yalof 70-71). For example, even though abortion is legal in the United States. Florida outlawed abortion in case the pregnancy has crossed 24 weeks and the fetus can survive outside the womb. Also, bilingual education is practiced in some part of Florida, especially in South Florida that has a large Latino population.
Adaptation to Changing Circumstances
The central government has significant responsibilities and there are times when they could take more time in responding or acting, and the citizens might need a quick solution. In such cases, Federalism intervenes and provides citizens with quick fix. Simply put, local government has the time and resources to handle local problems in a better manner. In the last decade, social welfare has become the forte of the Florida’s state government. Having state controls provides greater flexibility to the officials who wrestle with many ways of addressing problems related to policing. State control helps in providing circumstantial legislative reform, rather than development of a bureaucratic problem that could be difficult to manage with prolonged delay. For example: migrating welfare recipients to the state, requires flexible and swift solution from the government. In such cases, the state government can act in a much faster way that the central government (Dautrich & Yalof 72).
Fosters Innovation through Experimentation
Federalism also helps in carrying out experiments of laws and regulations, making the state a laboratory of democracy. The states get authority of crafting policies for experimentation and giving the central government proof of success or failure of policies at the state level. For years, Federalism has been used as a means to experiment new regulations in the country by means of practicing them in individual states. One such example where Florida was used as the laboratory of democracy was in 1987 over regulation of concealed handguns in public. The basic idea behind concealed-carry reform is that the citizens are given the right of defending themselves against any criminal attack. Before 1987, almost all American states either permitted citizens to conceal-carry under a licensing or prohibited carrying concealed handguns. In October 1987, Florida launched their experiment of concealed-carry, which was enacted by 23 states all showing positive results (Snyder N.pag).
How Federalism Hurts
Lack of Accountability
Division of power between the center and state can create several problems in terms of accountability. Since, both centre and state government share power they might not respond fast enough when tragedy or national problems strike the state. They might end up entangled and blaming each other for the responsibility, leaving the public without anyone to count on. In such cases, practicing federalism leaves citizens without any support from the governments who were deciding their fate in terms of sharing of power (Dautrich &Yalof 72). Such a problem was experienced in Florida during Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Rita and Hurricane Wilma, where the state government ended up blaming the delay of services on the central government and failed to rake up the responsibilities.
Each state differs in terms of its per capita income and causes a difference in the taxable resources made available to them. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2014, the per capita income in Maryland was $73,971; in comparison Florida’s per capita income was $47,463 (U.S. Census Bureau N.pag). This is a major fiscal difference for the state government and leaves them significantly short in front of the rich states such as Maryland. Due to these differences, the government spending on states that generate lower tax revenue is reduced by the central government and the range of programs offered is limited. In addition, when the central government requires the state to fund their own development and welfare programs, these financial disparities causes them to drop many of the possible services they could have offered to the citizens with a unitary government (Dautrich &Yalof 72).
Expensive System and Unclear Rules
One of the biggest concerns with Federalism is that it highly expensive in nature and due to that many state governments can reject national policies, just because they do not have the economic resources for affording them. Too many people are elected at the national and state level, which makes the process highly expensive to run for some states. The system is based on the political compromise between the center and the state, making the rules highly confusing. In addition, the ambiguities make the role of the courts highly critical in the federalist system. The problem with the role is the possibility of rejection coming from the judicial branch over a reform. In such cases, the state government can be left in a limbo over legislations, as the rules are very unclear on such issues (Dautrich &Yalof 73).
Florida is one of the several Federalist states in the United States of America that support dual sovereignty of both state and central government. There are advantages and disadvantages of the Federalism that are witnessed in several cases in the state of Florida. Federalism helps Florida to accommodate diversity, adapt to changing circumstances and fosters innovation via experimentation. But, federalism hurts Florida too with the lack of accountability, fiscal disparities and developing an expensive system with unclear rules.
Ciano., K. Federalism, immigration and deciding who can practice law. R Street Institute. rstreet.org. 14 October 2013. Web. 6 February 2016.
Dautrich, K., and Yalof.. D.A. American Government: Historical, Popular, and Global Perspectives: Brief Version. Boston: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2011. Print.
El Camino College. Defining Federalism: Chapter 03. El Camino College Compton Center. Compton.edu. n.d. Web. 6 February 2016.
Marks, T. C. "Federalism and the Florida Constitution: The Self-Inflicted Wounds of Thrown-Away Independence from the Control of the U.S. Supreme Court." Albany Law Review 66.3 (2003): 701. Print.
Rush, S. E. "Federalism, Diversity, Equality, and Article III Judges: Geography, Identity, and Bias." Missouri Law Review 79.119 (2014): 118-184. Print.
Snyder., J.R. Fighting Back: Crime, Self-Defense, and the Right to Carry a Handgun. CATO. Cato.org. n.d. Web. 5 February 2016.
U.S. Census Bureau. Median Household Income. Census Bureau. census.gov. 2014. Web. 5 February 2016.