The Importance of Federalism

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The Importance of Federalism

By | December 2012
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Why is Federalism important?

What exactly is Federalism?
Federalism is a way of establishing a nation so that two or more ranks of government have the proper authority of the same territory. Authority is shared between divisions of government. Neither level, acting alone, can change the basic division of powers the constitution makes between them. Each level operates through its own agencies and acts directly on the people through its own officials and laws. Like most governments in the world, Great Britain, are unitary governments, meaning all power belong to the central government. The American states are unitary governments with respect to their local governments. Out of 190 countries in the world, only 11 of them have federal systems.

How it all started...
To create a better union, George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and other nationalist leaders called upon the states to send delegates to a constitutional convention to meet in Philadelphia in May of 1787. It was that convention that produced the Constitution of the United States. The framers of the Constitution rejected both confederal and unitary modes of government. Instead, they based the new government on something very different, Federalism. In a confederation, the member states make up the union. Sovereignty remains with the states and individuals are citizens of their own states, not of the national government.

How it all started… (cont’d)
In a unitary system, the national government is sovereign and the states are just administrative branches of the central government. In the American Federal system, the people retain their basic sovereignty and they delegate some powers to the national government and reserve powers to the states. Individuals are citizens of both the general government and their separate states. This moment in history is important for two reasons: First, the American Federal system is not purely a distributed hierarchy. The states are not...