Tag Archives: Federalism

Federalism and Ideology

What is federalism?  There are several definitions for it, but I like to think that 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.  For the purposes of this discussion, let’s examine two different views.  The first view, the decentralist 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.

Where do you stand on the idea of federalism?  Today’s centralists are more of the socialist and liberal variety while the decentralists are more conservative or libertarian in their thinking.

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Centralism and Decentralism

 

Federalism is the sharing and distribution of powers and resources between a central government and state/local governments.  This system differs from a unitary system where a central government exercises its authority the state/local governments.  A federal system of government is also different from a confederacy.  In a confederate system of government, state and local governments are autonomous in their decision making abilities from a central authority.  The United States, of course, has a federal system of government.  A federal system of government is not without debate.

At the heart of any federalism debate is the size and scope of government.  Those who are centralists favor more national action in regards to solving problems.  Supporters of centralism believe that the “centralization” of power brings about a more efficient way of handling problems when they arise.  Those who are decentralists believe in more state/local action when solving problems.  They also believe that decentralization checks tyranny and allows for experimentation.  By experimentation, we mean that state and local governments can decide what solutions work best for them without any national or central authority giving permission.

Where do you stand?  Are you a centralist or a decentralist?

Methods of Voting Madness

Below is a video explaining how New Yorker voters use the mechanical lever voting machines on Election Day.  New York was the last state to use these machines.  The city of New York, however, is going back to the mechanical lever voting machine for their upcoming Mayoral elections.

Even though mechanical lever voting machines are no longer in use, you will see from this Procon.org study, however, that not all state voting systems are the same.  Those systems include Electronic Voting Machines (DRE), hand-counted paper ballots, paper ballots with optical scan, and punch cards.

Do you believe that all states should have one method to follow?  Should the selection of voting method be made by the states or by the federal government?Which voting system do you prefer?

Recent Events and Federalism

The topic of federalism has once again popped up with the recent United States Supreme Court decisions relating to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and to the initiative passed by the voters in the state of California, Proposition 8.  In the case involving the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a key piece of the law was overturned as irrelevant to today’s society.  In the Act, officials from fifteen states would have needed to receive federal permission if they wished to change voting laws in their states.  Most of the states in question were in the South and had a history of discrimination at the ballot box.  That portion was overturned by the Court.
With regards to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), married same-sex couples can now receive federal benefits which were once prohibited by DOMA.  In the case of Proposition 8, two lower courts overturned a ban on same-sex marriage. The ban, which was Proposition 8, was passed in a public initiative.  The Supreme Court upheld the ruling in the lower courts.  Same-sex marriage will be legal once again in California.

Where do you stand on the topic of federalism in regards to “hot button” issues regarding race, culture, and morality?  Which level of government should decide the outcome to these issues?

States’ Rights Today

The Anti-Federalists of the pre-Civil War era staked their claim to the idea of “states’ rights“.  This means that the powers expressly reserved to the states are for the states and the states alone.  Anti-Federalists or decentralists base their arguments around the 10th Amendment.  Some have referred to this amendment as the “States’ Rights Amendment”.  The decentralist belief is that the state and local governments are closer to the people.

Name an issue that you see being handled by the federal government.  Then explain why you believe that issue would be served by state and local government.  (You can also look at from this point of view:  name an issue being handled by the federal government, but you believe it would not be handled very well by the states or local governments.)

What is Federalism’s Future?

As many political scientists point out, the debate regarding federalism still exists today in the form of centralists and decentralists arguing about the size and scope of government.  Those who are centralists favor more national action in regards to solving problems.  Those on the decentralist side of the debate believe in more state/local action in solving problems.

Which direction do you think the United States is headed in terms of federalism and the centralism vs. decentralism debate?  Why do believe your opinion to be true?

Federalism: Where Do You Stand?

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.  For the purposes of this discussion, let’s examine two different views.  The first view, the decentralist 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.

Where do you stand on the idea of federalism?