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Evolving Federalism Essay

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Evolving Federalism
Pre-Class Assignment

Federalism by definition is the division of power between a central government and its participating members. How that power is divided is the subjective aspect of federalism that was before the framers of the United States. Through compromise and necessity the seeds for a strong central government were planted alongside already strong state governments. Over time the seeds for strong central government grew; wars, economic fluctuations and national growth established a strong central government. As America’s idea of federalism changed the central government grew more powerful, the state’s government gave more power away, and local governments were established.
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Schreiber’s fifth and final stage is the post-World War II era. Here, “creative federalism” is born. Creative federalism points to a strong centralized government that initiates federal programs to fight poverty, hunger, crime, and other social issues. This stage sees a noticeable increase of power given to the national government by the Warren Court.
Schreiber concludes by describing a struggle between cooperative federalism and creative federalism. He sees these two models of federalism in competition with one another on how power will be distributed between the three levels of government. This is best described by Russell Hanson, in Governing Partners, as “competitive federalism”, which is the idea that the three levels of government must compete for power in a “zero-sum” game.
It can be argued that we now are in a sixth stage that can be defined as competitive federalism. Recent struggles involving gay marriage, education, tax reform, and anti-terrorism funding prove that a struggle for power between the three levels of government is ongoing.
The issue of education best exemplifies the changing nature of intergovernmental relations. State and local governments run their own school systems, and for the most part, fund them as well. States differ from one in another
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