What Is Federalism?

What Is Federalism?

(RoyalPatriot.com) – The United States is the first country to have Federalism. This is also why Federalists were one of the first political parties in the United States. For a time, the US went from federalism to confederacy but has never been unitary, the third main type of government.

Federalism, Confederacy, and Unitarism

Colonists had no desire to come to a new land and do the exact same things that created such misery in their homelands. The first document to govern the land was the Articles of Confederation, but soon after, came the US Constitution. This one document changed the face of the nation and created a new form of government: federalism.

A confederation is a form of government where the states or otherwise named territories held the majority of the power. For a time, the United States operated under just such a system. For the most part, it looks a lot like each state is its own country, with any form of federal government loosely trying to manage between them.

The United States has never used unitarism as a form of government. Under such a government, the states have very little power, if any at all. The country is run by one centralized government, that makes, executes and interprets all the laws.

Benefits of Federalism

In federalism, there’s one national government and various stages of government below it. This prevents any one level of government from holding too much power, but it also has other benefits. For one thing, the real power lies in the hands of the people.

When a system of government is broken down into multiple levels, like state, county, city, etc., people have the freedom to choose their location based on the laws of the location and to participate in the election process that creates the leaders who govern the areas. Such a system also puts specific responsibilities in specific hands, so that hopefully, no one system is too overburdened. In a perfect world, this would mean that all the moving parts work together to create a streamlined process.

Challenges of Federalism

Just as there are benefits to any form of government, there are also challenges. In the case of federalism, much of the challenge lies in the same line as the benefits. Federalism works because of the separation of power, and the checks and balances that keep it in place. The challenge, then, is often when those with equal power, but differing opinions collide. In such cases, a higher level of government may step in.

This is where the judicial process is especially helpful. The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the most powerful court in the nation. Among its many duties and burdens is to settle disputes between states, should they arise. Most of these disputes involve boundaries, which was especially true in the early years of the US. That also extends to how one state’s use of natural resources might affect the ecology of another state, such as how the use of a river might impact the state downstream of the one using it.

There are those who think that federalism would serve the world best as a form of world government. One central government would hold the keys to laws impacting humanity as a whole, while the various countries, states, and so on, could establish their own laws within their power. The downside to this theory, of course, is the potential for such a far-reaching system to become corrupt. However, in the right hands, such a system would also have the potential to create a more unified world, set on the success of humanity as a whole.

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