Describe the main features of American federalism. Essay

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American federalism is constantly used as a benchmark for democratic societies. Having been successfully implemented along with the constitution, it has shown that it has been able to adapt to the changing environments throughout history. One scholar has claimed, “Federalism – old style – is dead.” However I disagree. In the following paragraphs, I will show how federalism is a part of the United States but how some problems make it seem like it is failing in the modern environment.

American federalism is a system of dual-sovereignty between two levels of government. It is a constitutional feature that power is divided between the national government and the governments of the states, and that both are mutually dependant on the other
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Extend the sphere and you take in a greater variety of parties and interests; you make it less probable that a majority of the whole will have a common motive to invade the rights of other citizens

By introducing a federal system of government, the power is diffused between the states and the national government. Because this system takes in a large number of people, it is better than a centralised government as “…you take in a greater variety of parties and interests” meaning minorities are protected, as there are too many interests for any one majority to have power. Following on from this, it prevents centralised power. As both the states and the national government share the power, one cannot act without the support of the other. There is a common understanding between the two as to what each is responsible for – it is outlined in the constitution. It would be impossible for one to intrude upon the other’s control. Because of this, the national government cannot become more powerful than the states. Indeed, Hamilton voices fears in Federalist No. 17 that “It will always be far more easy for the State governments to encroach upon the national authorities than for the national government to encroach upon the State authorities.” Even if this became the case, the power would still be divided between the individual states, so power could still not be centralised. Federalism preserves the
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