American Federalism

American Federalism
Federalism is a governance system that is based on overlapping, sharing and competing powers among different state levels. The system creates a division of authority as well as power governing between regional and central (national) government. Government powers in the United States of America are divided between states and central (federal) government that make up the state.

The system of government is therefore credited for making the US one of leading democracies and an economic powerhouse across the globe. This paper focuses on the state and nature of American federalism and it also offers examples of how the states federalism shaped political behavior in the country. The paper finally discusses the relationship between the states and US federal government as well as how it impacts creation of policies in the country.

Government powers in the American federalism are divided into states and central (federal government). Authority within federal government is then distributed among the different branches of the government. Authority distribution between the state and federal government also creates a connection that supplies balances and checks, thus allowing them to restrain them from each other and misusing powers bestowed on them by the United States constitution (Mattern, 2006 p. 70-71).

Through American federalism, state and local governments can also control activities of the federal government more especially in the use of power. The federal government additionally has power to prevent state and local governments from abusing their constitutional powers. Federalism at the national level offers checks and balances through the three arms of the government including the legislature, executive and the judiciary.

The executive branch is made up of the administration and the president. The legislative branch (Congress) is made up of two chambers including the Senate and House of Representatives. The judicial branch on the other hand comprises of the courts. Since the three branches share power, each of them can limit the powers of the other branches to some extent.

American federalism has grown considerably from its beginnings to the present political system. The balance of boundaries and powers between state and national government has also been changing over time since it was introduced. During the inception of this system of government, the states were not seen as administrative units for policy implementation made by central government.


The states therefore fully operated as independent constitutional polities that were also tasked with different policies for their citizens. Framers of the US constitution aimed at making the states to be the central policy makers in the federal system, not the central (federal) government (Gerstone, 1997, p. 87).  They also achieved this by granting limited powers to the central government that mainly focused on the nation’s national economic issue, military affairs and national economic issues, for instance free flow of commerce across the US boundaries.

The States were tasked with addressing many domestic policy issues in ways that were perceived excellent as it relates to their exceptional needs, history and culture. They dealt with matters of local importance including criminal law and economic regulation. Federal government presently is the key policy maker and the states have taken a lot of responsibility in federal policies implementation.

The 2010 Health Care Reform Act is an excellent example of an act created and passed by federal government even though its partial implementation was carried out by state governments. It is also clear that local and state governments are presently involved in many issues having ramifications, international aspects or consequences, a field that the federal government previously dominated.

Country, municipal and states governments have also been employing many nonbinding resolutions and referendums pertaining to foreign relations for example, creation of sister city relations as well as trade governments with foreign countries to encourage foreign direct investment and exports. Council of State Governments among other state and municipal associations held an annual meeting in 1999, Quebec City in Canada offering logistical and financial support for the conference (Michelmann et al., 2009, p. 307).

In the concept of New Federalism, attempts have also made to help reduce federal government power expansion and to revive powers and authority of state and local governments for example, those relating to environmental regulation at state and county levels (Sarat, 2008, p.47-49). American Civil War is among many factors that have enhanced the concept of federalism the American political trend.

Between 1790 and 1865, the nature of American federalism was also characterized by political and constitutional conflict regarding interpretation of federal authority. In nation cen 

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