What is Federalism?
The United States of America is known globally for its economic independence and leadership. This state of the country is often attributed to the struggle of our forefathers and a few distinct people (Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Morgan, Carnegie et al.) that helped shape our America following the industrial revolution. USA is known for its long running government unity which many countries have often built inspiration on. However, the constitution was not always as it is now. Amendments and other radical changes were made as our leaders see fit during their time. With this, the American constitution (or system of government) has effectively evolved to serving its purpose of catering the nation’s people.
America is an example of a ‘federalist’ government. It is distinguished as having central government of the nation whilst having regional governments. These governments or authorities are able to demonstrate their separately powers within their area of responsibility. Other countries that have a federal government are Canada and Germany.
The evolution of American federalism has left political scientists and historians sometimes confused for interpretations of the American constitution are said to be different from the perspectives of those who originally wrote it. Nonetheless, political scientist and historians are able to arrive at some agreed interpretations, descriptions, and analysis of how the American federalism had been in the past centuries.
Since the creation of the American constitution in 1787, it was ratified shortly after in 1787. It was then that the ‘first stage’ of federalism came into being. The Dual Federalism (or layer cake federalism) mainly lets the state and the central government exercise their powers separately, the central government being only an overarching policy to the whole. This federalism type was exercised from the constitution’s ratification up to the 1930s. Because of the ‘blurry’ definition of this Dual Federalism, interpretations of it prevented politicians from questioning and developing the system.
However, the World War II required the national government to develop its existing policies. The dual federal system only iterates that the state and the nation can act on their own accord. The stresses of WWII generated extensive cooperation between the states and the central government. This cooperation still is the considered the great factor unto forming the Cooperative federalism.
Although the dual federalism also entails cooperation within each government, the supports are relatively minor as compared to their actions in WWII. This event resulted to written collaboration on national policies and a comprehensive detail of the states’ sharing functions.
After the acclaimed end of cooperative federalism in the 1960s, creative federalism came up. It was the envisionment of then President Lyndon Johnson to his ‘Great Society’. This creative federalism entailed the mobilization of the state, the central government, and the private sector to provide the public better governance in a cooperative basis.
Creative federalism has opened up to the neoliberal policies of the central government. Although the efforts of the private sector have greatly influenced the nations’ policies, it has never been a ‘standard’ or a written theory. Raegan had introduced to the Americans the radical and most effective cooperation of the governmental factors.
Following this event, the American political behavior has evolved towards the orientation (and often an intention) of the private sector. Policies are developed towards the benefit of the upper bourgeois. These cooperation ideals of creative federalism have somehow influenced leaders to become independent from their citizens. The national government had also spearheaded the international governance by forming international groups and organizations led by different ambassadors or president of contributing countries. Moreover, federalism is often credited to the violent and deteriorating behavior of the politicians. It was a great contribution to the uncertain tension above the state but below the central government. These factors: neoliberalism, an international leading, and violence due to competition and federal confusions are by themselves the influence of the creation of American policies.
The relationship between the Federal parties and the State often influence the creation of the laws being imposed throughout the country. For example, environmental issues and problems that has no definite boundaries in terms of jurisdiction of the States. As a result, such jurisdiction overlaps these issues about which law must be imposed. This complication could be why and how the existing environmental laws were created.
It’s not only that the Federal government is being influenced by states when it comes to the creation of law. Every state has its own laws, and it could be safe to say that every state has its own needs and perceptions towards the federal law. Therefore, not only states influence the creation of federal laws, but the federal law itself influences the creation of laws in every state. Moreover, the United States Constitution did not mention any units of the government in local level. Since the states were established as individuals, the local government units have restrictions that are placed on them by the United States Constitution. Therefore, State governments control the existing powers of every local government in their respective states.
3. Federalism: U.S. v. The States, Topic Overview. (n.d.). Retrieved May 16, 2014, from http://www.learner.org/courses/democracyinamerica/dia_3/dia_3_topic.html
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