Federalism

In late 2007, a call amongst conservatives rang out for a Fred Thompson for President candidacy.  Thompson, a former Republican United States Senator from Tennessee and character actor from such television and movie ventures as Law & Order and Die Hard 2, answered that call and ran for the Republican nomination for President in earnest in late 2007.  Despite the ballyhoo surrounding his entrance into the race, Thompson’s campaign sputtered along and by the end of January 2008, his campaign ended.

The following video is one of a series of talking point vignettes that were designed to introduce Thompson to the public who might have been unfamiliar with his political views.  This video deals with  the topic of federalism.  Federalism is the sharing and distribution of power and resources between the federal government and the states.  You can also add “…and the local governments” when you discuss the separation of powers between the levels of government.  In the video, Thompson speaks from a decentralist point of view.  This view contends that the Constitution is a compact among the sovereign states which gave the central government a limited framework to work from.  Those who oppose such a framework would be centralists.  Centralists see the Constitution as the supreme law of the land and that the states are not the representative of the people.  Centralists claim that the representative of the people is the national government.  Take a listen to what Senator Fred Thompson has to say on the matter of federalism.

Where do you stand on the idea of federalism?  What are thoughts on what Fred Thompson had to say in 2007 about federalism?  How do they relate to what is happening in the United States today?

28 responses to “Federalism

  1. I believe that federalism is important to keep the powers balanced between the national government and the states; however, Fred Thompson emphasizes federalism from a decentralist point of view. I agree with Thompson, because I think that the states should be allowed more power than the federal government. At the time that Thompson wanted to run people were a lot more focused on the centralist form of government, and I think that is why he didn’t last after January in 2008. It is still relevant today, because US citizens still want a stronger federal government and that is why Barack Obama was reelected into presidency.

  2. Stephanie Bialka

    As Fred Thompson states, today we nationalize every cause such as education, health care, criminal and court laws and much more. I believe that the national government is being given too much power and more power should be given to the states. I agree with what Thompson says at the end of the video about not looking at the federal government first but to decide if the issue could be categorized as a local or state issue. I feel the federal government can be too involved in some issues that can be handled at the state level.

  3. I don’t agree with the idea of Federalism because I believe there should be consistency in the laws of each state. When one travels outside a state there should be no confusion as to what is legal and what is not. Thompson’s speech makes me think of a 17 getting ticketed for having cigarettes and it being legal a week later when he turns 18. I do not believe the founding fathers wanted state governments to have more power than federal government. This idea seems like each state would be its own nation. Bottom line is that I feel the laws in each state should be consistent with each other.

  4. I feel that federalism is fair in that the federal government, state government, and local government share power. I agree with federalism because the power is evenly distributed and one party does not have more power than the other. I like what Fred Thompson had to say about federalism. Thompson stated that a key to freedom is to keep the federal government within its boundaries. He referred to the 10th Ammendment of the Constitution and how it states that whatever powers are not delegated to the federal government in the Constitution are reserved to the States. Thompson pointed out that the federal goverment is currently in control of healthcare, criminal laws, and education, to name a few. This relates to the current educational system today where states are required to meet the No Child Left Behind Act and schools are held accountable to standards that the federal government mandated. This takes the control out of the state’s hands and out of the teacher’s hands. I do not agree with the distribution of power leaning towards the federal government’s side on the issue of education.

  5. Federalism is very important in order to keep states in some control. I completely agree with Fred Thompson about questioning the level of authority in which should be involved in lawful situations. Not every state is the same and not every state has the exact same issues. Although general laws such as homicide, drug trafficking and curfews are extremely beneficial, there are other laws such as marijuana and traffic lights that really don’t need to go beyond state lines.

  6. Stephanie Navarrete

    Federalism is an important aspect in today’s society especially. It provides a sense of security and protect that the people may have without the interference of the federal government. Federalism delegates the amount of power and control that each individual state will have and that the people residing in that specific state will also have their equal and fair share to voice their opinion in national matters. I believe it is not up to the government to control each and every aspect of civilian life otherwise, this country did not set out on its’ original plan in which our founding fathers sought to be. Fred Thompson does an excellent job of explaining how much government interference is good and how much is bad. For example, providing education across the country is good while other laws including photo enforced lights do not need to go beyond a single state. The distribution of power of the federal government needs to be reasonable in the sense that it will provide a good cause for the people.

  7. I believe that Federalism is a great way to keep the balance of power equal between the states and the federal government. However, i feel that social issues such as: gay marriage, gun control, and abortion should be decided by states only. The federal government has bit off more than it can chew when it comes to these social issues and we are 17 trillion dollars in debt because of it. The main job of the federal government in my opinion should be to protect the citizens of America from harm (defense) and fiscal issues.

  8. Thompson states a very valid reason. The federal government does have the ultimate power however, the state government should ultimately have the say so in the policies or new laws. I believe in government and federalism but too many times the federal government tends to have the upper had. For example, when the drinking age in Wisconsin was 18, the federal government refused to grant funds in order to repair the federal roads. Even though we think that if the states are given more “power,” they are not. There are so many loop holes and ways that the federal government can jump though in order to have its way it is ridiculous. Couple other things people should think about is the gun ban, gay marriage and legalization of marijuana. These should be all decided by each state and not the federal government. And to top this off, if more gay marriages were allowed, more guns were sold and legalization of marijuana happened, the government would profit from that even more because of taxes. And if one thinks about legalization, that would also out gangs out of business. This is what I think about federalism and I also believe the best for the state is not decided by Congress but the state itself.

  9. Michaela Sheeran

    There are advances and disadvantages to federalism. An advantage being certain social and economic problems pertain to a region itself . State representatives live in their state so they are more aware of their constituents needs and or problems. For example, traffic congestion in New York would be best solved by local government rather then someone who lives in Alaska. A state government will formulate policies for local needs that central government might over look while catering to the rest of the country.
    A disadvantage would be an overlapping of work which leads to confusion regarding who is responsible for what, for example when Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005 there was a delay in the rescue work because of confusion between state and federal government as to who was responsible for rescue management. the result was the loss of many lives. It can cause a state government to become concerned only about it own states needs which may effect neighboring states. For example, pollution from a very industrialized state can effect a neighboring state which could depend on farming.
    However I don’t agree with Fred Thomson when he states that federal government want to nationalize every cause deemed worthy education , healthcare and criminal laws.There needs to be standards, in education healthcare and criminal laws that are country wide. Children must be educated, the sick need to receive healthcare regardless of there financial status, & people need to be protected from the insane who want to blow their heads off with assault weapons.

  10. Michaela Sheeran

    There are advantages and disadvantages to federalism. An advantage being certain social and economic problems pertains to a region itself, State representatives live in their state so they are more aware of their constituent’s needs and/or problems. For example, traffic congestion in New York would be best solved by local government rather than someone in Alaska. A state government will formulate policies for local needs that central government might overlook while catering to the rest of the country.
    A disadvantage would be an overlapping of work which leads to confusion regarding who is responsible for what. For example, when Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005 there was a delay in the rescue work because of confusion between state and federal government as to who was responsible for rescue management; the result was the loss of many lives. It can cause a state government to become concerned only about its own states needs which may affect neighboring states. For example, pollution from a very industrialized state can affect a neighboring state which could depend on farming.
    However I do not agree with Fred Thomson when he states that we have nationalized every cause deemed worthy such as education, healthcare and criminal laws. There needs to be standards, in education, healthcare and criminal laws that are country wide. Children must be educated, the sick need to receive healthcare regardless of their financial status and people need to be protected from the insane who want to blow their heads off with assault weapons.

  11. In fact of having the system of federalism allowed civil rights activists to file federal lawsuits ,such as brown versus board of education. Because they knew that filing state lawsuits would never get them anywhere. On the other hand, state government has a hand in much of the governance that touches individuals on an every day basis such as policing, local government, roads etc. In my opinion i think that Thompson did a perfect job of explaining how government is good and bad.

  12. I agree with how Thompson believes the states should have more power. America is different in pretty much every state which makes a need for different laws. I think that because of this, it makes more sense for the states to decide. For example the Federal government can’t exactly keep tabs on what is going on in every state and what their needs may be. Other states also have different economies and may need to have different minimum wage limits. This can’t just be decided by the Federal government because it wouldn’t be fair to other states where the price of living is either higher or cheaper. I think Thompson is right in this situation.

  13. Federalism permits to have a balance of power between different government levels as soon this power is distributed between the governments, this power cannot go beyond their boundaries. Limiting the consequences of decisions made within its territory. Sometimes, federalism is not convenient since in the solution of problems that we have to ask this first as Thompson says what level of government is responsible for resolving the problem which prevents the quick fix until you define what level of government is responsible.

  14. Matt Kaczorowski

    I feel that federalism is pretty fair for the most part, but I do think we need to take the burden off the federal government for everything. It seems that whenever the state or local government has a problem, they expect the federal to take care of it or help them out. The state and local governments want the power to do things, but when they get a chance to do something, the federal government always has to step in and help or even take care of the full problem. So logically, most people expect the feds to help them out. I don’t mind having a decent sized government and I don’t think a big government has to be evil or corrupt, everyone just needs to get their priorities in order first.

  15. The federal government does have the most power but, the state government should have the say so in the policies or new laws. The main job of the federal government in my opinion should be to protect the citizens of America from harm and terrorist threats. The only down side to a federalist government is the work overlapping with each others and nothing gets done. Example, the federal government cannot keep tabs on what is going on in every state and what their needs are. Overall the federal government showed keep track of their responsibilities and let the states handle their problems. If the state cannot handle their problems then the federal government should step in.

  16. I believe that federalism is a beautiful thing. It keeps things balanced but, I agree with Fred Thompson. The national government needs to have their power reduced a bit. Not every issue needs to be nationalized some issues regaurding education, health care, etc. need to be handled by the states because they have more of an insight on what needs to be done to fix or maintain a good status with the issue. The government needs to realize there are different problems and different solutions to those problems in each state and once they have recognized that I feel that all governments will have more of an equal say in such matters.

  17. Federalism allows for an equal distribution of control to local and federal governments and to those being governed. That said, I believe the notion of federalism which enables local and federal governments to work well separately, and jointly within their own bounds is a fantastic idea. Some interesting thoughts Fred had on federalism were, the idea of checks and balances, the 10th amendment, and how congress and the courts often forget about the distribution of powers from state and federal governments. He moved me with his statement on nationalizing causes that, “deem worthy”, giving government too much power. It’s sad that today, 6 years later, we see these problems growing ever so quickly. The government has been attempting to put it’s “two cents” into solving most problems or issues that rise. The approach of federalism enables states to, as Fred mentioned, move forward in accountability, economically, and structurally. Fred is right on the ball with his mention of asking ourselves if the issue or problem can be solved by local or by federal government, and I think we need to do that more often,

  18. I believe that the United States are much too large for the Federal Government to be more powerful than the states. The states are so different and unique that a centralist government could not govern them all properly in my opinion. We as the melting pot of amercia have many different customs and views, we cannot place the law of the entire united states on the shoulders of a few politicians in D.C. Though they represent this state, I don’t think that there is enough of a personal view from an average joe living in that state. Doing a 9-5 job, and raising an average joe family. There needs to be a stronger hold on states with the state government and less of an influence from a nation-wide power. those in office probably do not understand the views of average joe as fully as someone in local government does. so why should the decisions be left to them?

  19. Michael hernandez

    Federalism allows for the necessary involvement of the federal government with the states. This will give both the state and local government the appropriate authority to do what is necessary, such as dealing with health care. The Federal Government does have certain clauses such as the interstate commerce clause which allows for the feds to regulate trade between the states. This being said, their are federal clauses that give the feds certain powers in which the involvement of them is possible. I agree with what Fred Thompson said about the courts loosing focus on the powers that the state and local government are allowed to have after delineated powers are given to the feds by the tenth amendment. We can see this through the courts, as well as congress trying to change certain aspects of which only the states and local government should be allowed to control.

  20. I believe that federalism is very important and that we need it in our government to keep a fair balance of power. Personally i think that Fred Thompson had very good point in trying to limit where the federal government really needs to voice their opinion on. There is a reason why we also have a local and state government, these two forms of government know what is actually going on in there perspective states and i believe have a better understanding on which laws should be in affect. I think especially how things are currently going in the United States that the federal government wants more control over local and state. Which complete goes against everything this nation is built on, we should never have one type of government that has more control over another it should still be an equal partnership for all forms of government working together in any situation.

  21. Samantha Garcia

    I agree with the comments that Thompson says, we should begin by looking at our local government. Federalism is what keeps our government balanced and allows them to work together while also enforcing their own laws. We should look at the federal government to protect our financial needs and our state and local government to protect us. Although the federal government has the biggest responsibility we have to keep in mind what the issues is and who will be the most adequate in solving it.

  22. After watching this video, I would say I definitely agree with Fred Thompson. I would have to side with the decentralist point of view when it comes to federalism. Although I do believe that a strong central government is of great importance, I believe that because America is so diverse and controversial in so many ways yet so many different places that one central government could not possibly be able to understand any issue enough whether it is big or small to decide how it is to be governed. Furthermore, it is important that people feel safe knowing that someone who lives and works in the same state as they do has a say in what happens; some of those things may personally affect their lives (and have completely no affect on people across the country). All in all, American is still struggling when it comes to agreeing on anything – and that is why Obama’s healthcare act is getting so much attention with both negative and positive feedback from peolpe from all over the country.

  23. I think when it comes down to it that it really all depends on what the government is discussing to decide who has power over what. cause really some things such as education and gun laws all depend on the enviornment and the factors that go into it. But the federal government should always put restrictions and have states meet certain criteria and then let the state build and/or a add on to the law, or whatever may the case be.

  24. I believe that federalism is very important. It gives an equal part to the federal, state and the locals. The role of government does have a very important role in our lifes says Fred Thompson, which is very true. He explains how the heart of the deal to any problem going on or conspiracy is freedom and freedom is keeping the power of federal government within it’s boundaries. There are many problems going on in the United States that give a major debate on what should have control over them. For example, Fred Thompson gives a list and education is one of them. He says we need to nationalize every cause that is deem worthy and education was one of them. There are many causes that need to be controlled and that is where federalism comes into action. I think Fred Thompson explains very well how the government is very important in our lives whether we like it or not. That leads to what is happening in the U.S. today. Federalism should be in action whether it is local or federal.

  25. I believe that the idea of federalism is beneficial for the well-being of the United States. It divides powers between government, states and the people through our system of checks and balances. With the separation of powers, no one branch can become too powerful. With every decision made it is passed along for approval. It is a long process and few proposals make it through and become laws, or acts. It seems that Fred Thompson believes that people within our government have too much power and make decisions that he feels affects the people more than themselves. I feel that the issues he is referring to are still relevant today. He begins to talk about the idea of federalism and how it works, and then goes into depth about key issues.

  26. I believe that federalism is very important in our nation. Fred Thompson explains how the role of government is very important in our nation whether we like it or not. He also explains how the heart of any cause or deal is freedom and freedom is keeping the power of federal government within its own boundaries whether its federal, state, or local. I think he means that whatever cause is being dealt with, it should be taken care of by the proper branch of federalism. The 10th ammenment provides that after power is given to federal government all the other powers are reserved for states or for the people. Fred Thompson explains very well about how federalism helps major causes in the United States. For example, he explains about education. There are many conflicts with education that need to be controlled by the federal government and all that is taking care of it is states which means there are 50 states competing or going after eachother. That leads into today’s society. Every cause or conflict should be controlled by the federal government and federalism should be taken into action alot more.

  27. Chris Chaparro

    I feel Mr. Fred Thomas made some great points. Helped bring people to understand much of the history dealing with politics and federalism, which is more helpful than people think. It is always a good idea to explain what is going on to help the audience feel comfortable and know what is being said. Great points were made especially the last questions he made, is the problem one that the government needs to deal with and if so local, state of federal. All states need to ration the Federalist aspect and how all roles, not just politicians, can have a say in government discussions and decisions.

  28. James Savaiano

    Federalism is a very important aspect to have in our nation. It keeps everything at a fair balance of power between the states, government, and people of the nation. Fred Thompson has a good understanding of how the government can be very important in our society, but also states that they may have too much power that can have a bad affect on the people of this nation.

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