Federalism And Political Participation Essay

1186 words - 5 pages

Since the founding of our nation, government has constantly been changing and developing as the United States has been evolving. What started out as thirteen colonies rules by another country expanded into fifty states of an independent country each with its own ideas and people to look out for. With this expanding country it was important that the government expand but also that the American people felt like they had a voice. Their voice can be heard in the varying types of participation of the political process at the national, state, and local level. Mona Field’s California Government and Politics Today and Ann O’M. Bowman’s State and Local Government: The Essentials both discuss the ...view middle of the document...

The federal government eventually followed suit…” (Bowman 7). State governments are more closely in contact with their residents and can create legislation based on what they see that their constituents need as demonstrated in the Bowman text.
As the nation changed, federalism has evolved with it. Federalism can be defined as “a system of government in which powers are divided between a central (national) government and regional (state) government” (Bowman 4). After the American became an independent nation, the system of government set up was a confederacy in which the states had almost all of the power and the federal government was quite weak. It quickly became apparent that that type of government wouldn’t work which is when federalism was chosen instead at the Constitutional Convention. At the convention two plans were proposed: the Virginia Plan in favor of a strong central government with a bicameral legislature and the New Jersey Plan in support of a one house legislature composed of states being equally represented regardless of population. The Great Compromise was agreed upon by both sides and was composed of a two house legislature where one house would be represented based on population and the other would have the states all equally represented. Since the ratifying of the Constitution, the United States has gone through three types of federalism according to the Bowman text. The first model was dual federalism where both the national and state government had clearly defined powers and responsibilities that didn’t interfere with each other. This model lasted from 1787 until 1932 when cooperative federalism entered the political system. “Roosevelt’s New Deal buried dual federalism by expanding national authority over commerce, taxation, and the economy” (Bowman 35) which had previously mostly belonged to the states but with the Great Depression it was important for the federalism to evolve to deal with this national crisis. Cooperative federalism from Roosevelt’s presidency lasted until 1964 when it was altered into what is called creative federalism where the federal government gave away many grants in an attempt to fight the problems facing the nation from poverty to poor health care. Finally, new federalism came after creative federalism and gave some of the power taken from the states during the Great Depression back to them.
The ability to participate in government is considered an important part of being American. Not everyone takes advantage of this opportunity though which is why the Bowman text describes four different types of participation. The first is an active...

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