The founding of the United States gave rise to competing approaches to federalism. The first, dual federalism, emphasizes the following four points: (1) The national government may rule only by using powers specifically listed in the Constitution, (2) the national government has only limited purposes, (3) national and state governments are sovereign in their own spheres, and (4) the relationships between the state and national governments are marked by tension. This view places importance on states’ rights; the state and national governments are as distinct and separate as the layers of a cake.
The second approach, cooperative federalism, highlights the following three elements: (1) National and state agencies perform joint functions, not just separate ones, (2) they routinely share power, and (3) power in government is fragmented rather than concentrated at one level. The functions of the state and national governments are intermixed, like the different flavors in a marble cake. Cooperative federalists stress the Constitution’s elastic clause, which has allowed the national government to stretch its powers.
Cooperative federalism has been associated with liberalism and the tendency to centralize power in the national government. Conservatives have tended to favor dual federalism, returning power to the states.
Changes to our federal structure have come about during times of national crisis: the Civil War, World Wars, the Great Depression, and September 11, 2001. Most of the significant changes occurred during the Great Depression, when no one but the federal government could offer relief to Americans. The Great Depression changed how we thought about our government and what it could do for us. Further changes were made due to 9/11 and the passage of the USA Patriot Act.
One significant change came about through the Voting Rights Act of 1965. With this legislation, the national government forbade various practices used by the states to disenfranchise African Americans. Through judicial interpretation, the Supreme Court forced state and local governments to meet demands they were otherwise unwilling or unable to meet. The Court extended the Bill of Rights to the states, outlawing segregated schools, providing minimum standards of due process, and forcing the reapportionment of legislative districts according to the one person, one vote principle. Recently, the Court has shifted the balance back to the states with the exception of the decision involving the 2000 presidential election.
The balance of power between the national and state governments continues to shift. In the early nineteenth century, in McCulloch v. Maryland, the Supreme Court backed an interpretation of federalism that favored a strong national government. The states’ rights issue later stood at the heart of the dispute between the North and South that led to the Civil War. In the 1930s, the power of the national government expanded enormously as President Franklin Roosevelt coped with the problems of the Great Depression. The Supreme Court still held fast to a dual-federalist approach, however, and struck down many New Deal programs. By the late 1930s, the Court had altered its views about the balance of power between the national and state governments and sustained acts that expanded the power of the national government. The general welfare became an accepted concern of the national government, and thus our government started practicing cooperative federalism in all branches.
The national government also uses financial incentives to extend its power over the states. Grants give the national government substantial power to induce states to comply with national standards. Categorical grants, targeted for special purposes, leave recipients with relatively little choice about how to spend the money; block grants, awarded for more general purposes, allow the recipient more discretion.
One of the more overlooked areas of federalism is the role of state government. Recently, state government has grown enormously, and it has professionalized itself as well. More professionalized jobs, more active legislatures, higher salaries, growing state revenue, and more capable bureaucrats have all contributed to the rise of state government as a vital component of federalism.
Although the national government now provides states with a smaller fraction of the funds they need, it still tries to tell state and local governments what to do. Since the mid-1960s, Congress has used preemption to take over functions that were previously left to the states. Preemption works through mandates (which force states to undertake activities) and restraints (which forbid states to exercise certain powers). It results in shifting costs to states for nationally imposed policies. The Republican-led 104th Congress enacted legislation to limit the national government’s ability to pass unfunded mandates on to the states.
Theoretically, one advantage of having so many governments is that they allow citizens the opportunity to decide their own fate in their local community, which they know intimately. However, people are less likely to participate in local elections than in national ones. A decentralized federal system gives more points of access to groups representing special interests. The multiplicity of governments also permits experimentation with new ideas and flexibility in responding to the diversity of conditions that exist around the country. But some argue that the profusion of governments makes government less comprehensible to the ordinary citizen.
In reality, the expectations of neither the liberals nor the conservatives have been fully met as federalism has evolved over the last decade. Greater professionalization in the state governments has made them more like big governments, ready to take an active role in solving problems. Sometimes this has meant that states have been willing to set higher standards than the national government for welfare, product safety, and the like.
Most conservatives would like to return power to the states and reduce the role of the national government. But as the national government worked to reduce its size and trim the tax burden it imposes on citizens, state governments grew and raised their taxes. Both liberals and conservatives now sound the theme of smaller, more efficient government.
. Next, select four states in different parts of the country, and profile each of them using a common set of characteristics you suspect might have political importance. (For example, you might look at net migration, ethnicity of population, indicators that show the importance of industry or agriculture, or military contracts.)
20. Tour websites of several state governments. Compare the types of information they make available.
30. Compare congressional election results for two states in 2004 and 2006. How many seats did each state have in the House of Representatives in 2004 and in 2006? How many votes did each major party receive statewide in 2004 and 2006? How many seats did each major party win in each state? Did one of the major parties benefit from redistricting?
One of the great advantages of pluralist democracy is that it provides lots of opportunities for you to get involved. If you would like to learn more about the inner workings of government, you need not go to Washington, D.C. With over eighty thousand governments in our system, there are bound to be possibilities for internships right in your own backyard, in state and local government. It is not possible to provide detailed information for all fifty states, but here are a few examples of what is out there.
The Citizens’ Forum on Self-Government offers an eight-week program for interns to work on matters concerned with the structure and function of state and local governments. There is a small stipend. The application deadline is in mid-April. For further information, write the Intern Coordinator, Citizens’ Forum/National Municipal League, 55 West 44 Street, New York, NY 10036, or call 212-730 7930.
Like their Washington counterpart, several state legislatures have internships available. In Indiana, for example, the Democratic and Republican Caucuses in each house of the state legislature offer paid internships to students who help during the legislative session. In addition, the caucuses sometimes help place internship candidates in positions with interest groups or think tanks in the area. Some other states offering internships include Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New York, and Rhode Island.
Finally, many cities (including Oakland, California; Phoenix, Arizona; New York City; Detroit; and Los Angeles) offer internship possibilities. Try calling the local government personnel office in your own area to find out what is available near you.
0Sample Exam Questions
0Multiple Choice Questions0
10. What term best describes the quality of being supreme in power and authority?
a0. eminent domain
b0. stare decisis
20. What do we call the view that the Constitution is a compact among sovereign states, so that the powers of the national government and the states are clearly differentiated?0
b0. marble cake federalism
d0. cooperative federalism
e0. dual federalism
30. Which of the following is not an element of cooperative federalism?0
a0. National and state agencies rule jointly.
b0. The nation and the states routinely share power.
c0. Power is not concentrated at any one level.
d0. Congress and the executive work together to solve problems.
e0. None of the above; all are elements of cooperative federalism.
40. In early America, majorities feared that people from different regions with different values would rule them. What was the solution to this problem?0
b0. national sovereignty
d0. eminent domain
50. What does the Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution concern?
a0. states’ rights
b0. due process
c0. right to bear arms
d0. right to reasonable bail
e0. exclusionary clause
60. Which of the following is most closely associated with marble cake federalism?
a0. cooperative federalism
b0. dual federalism
c0. New Age federalism
d0. stratified federalism
e0. territorial federalism
70. What clause is used as the basis for Congress’s implied powers?0
a0. free-exercise clause
b0. elastic clause
c0. exclusionary clause
d0. supremacy clause
e0. all of the above
80. 0Block grants can
a0. require state or local governments to match funds.
b0. leave little discretion to recipient governments.
c0. leave substantial discretion to state or local governments.
d0. rely exclusively on strict formulas to allocate aid.
e0. expand federal control over states.
90. What element of the U.S. Constitution gives Congress the power to supersede state voting qualifications and pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965?0
a0. First Amendment
b0. Tenth Amendment
c0. Fourteenth Amendment
d0. Fifteenth Amendment
e0. Nineteenth Amendment
100. Which Supreme Court case upheld the doctrines of national supremacy and implied powers?0
a0. Marbury v. Madison
b0. South Carolina v. Katzenbach
c0. McCulloch v. Maryland
d0. United States v. Butler
e0. Hammer v. Dagenhart
110. Which of the following events is most responsible for the end of dual federalism and the beginning of cooperative federalism and more reliance on the federal government?0
a0. American Civil War
b0. Spanish American War
c0. World War I
d0. Great Depression
e0. Vietnam War
120. How did the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education affect the country?0
a0. increased the freedom of the states to regulate school attendance
b0. radically limited the scope and power of the federal government
c0. promoted equality by outlawing segregation in public schools
d0. upheld the role of the states in maintaining the traditional social order
e0. promoted majoritarian democracy by protecting voting rights
130. Which Supreme Court case concluded that Congress could not require local officials to implement a regulatory scheme imposed by the national government?0
a0. Prinz v. United States
b0. United States v. Lopez
c0. Gibbons v. Ogden
d0. Bush v. Gore
e0. Atkins v. Virginia
140. What term is used to describe government money used for a specific purpose or project?0
a0. clarified grant
b0. block grant
c0. projection grant
d0. categorical grant
e0. mandated grant
150. Which of the following is not generally advanced as an argument in favor of federalism?0
a0. States, acting as laboratories of democracy, may experiment with new policies.
b0. People are free to vote with their feet by choosing the state whose laws suit them best.
c0. Federalism acts to promote racial equality.
d0. Federalism promotes access for a variety of groups and interests.
e0. Federalism recognizes the diversity of conditions in different states.
160. What term is used to describe government money used for general purposes?0
a0. block grants
b0. clarified grants
c0. formula grants
d0. neighborhood grants
e0. mandated grants
170. Preemption has involved the use of 0
c0. increased federal power over the states.
d0. cost shifting to states.
e0. all of the above.
180. Which of the following is not one of the six categories of gubernatorial power?0
e0. party control
190. What program did Richard Nixon use to decentralize national policy and combine categorical grants into block grants?0
b0. New Federalism
d0. unfunded mandates
200. On the basis of a review of White House positions on cases before the Supreme Court, which of the following is most true?0
a0. President Reagan was more likely to support states’ rights than President Clinton.
b0. President Clinton was more likely to support states’ rights than President Reagan.
c0. The White House always supports the expansion of federal power.
d0. The White House always supports states’ rights.
e0. The White House never stakes out a position on states’ rights.
210. Water is becoming a major problem in the U.S. West. Why?0
a0. aging infrastructure
b0. overallocation and overuse
c0. continuous land development
d0. higher than expected population growth
e0. all of the above
220. Which of the following are some of the diverse elements of a country that the French Philosopher Montesquieu argued lawmakers should consider in formulating the laws of society?0
e0. economic resources
230. Which of the following would conservatives in Washington be more likely to favor?0
a0. expanding the use of categorical grants
b0. concentrating power in Washington
c0. returning power to the states
d0. expanding the use of unfunded mandates
e0. reducing the authority of state government relative to Washington
240. Congressional district boundaries are typically drawn by 0the
a0. Supreme Court.
c0. House of Representatives.
d0. state legislatures.
e0. attorney general of the United States.
250. The Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Lopez suggests a more narrow construction of which source of national governmental power?0
a0. commerce clause
b0. unfunded mandates
c0. revenue sharing
d0. full faith and credit clause
e0. home rule
10. Compare the different aspects of the two competing views of federalism discussed in this chapter. Justify your position with examples.
20. Discuss the factors and events that have led to the growth of our national government’s power.
30. Discuss how government has changed recently and how preemption and mandates have accelerated under the USA Patriot Act. Use specific examples of gaining and losing power.
40. Use the case of state building in Iraq to discuss the benefits and disadvantages of locating the principal powers of government at the regional level or in a central government. What types of tradeoffs and challenges does the state-building effort in Iraq represent?
50. How have the various federal grant programs helped or hindered government power at the federal level?
0Answers to Multiple-Choice Questions0
Copyright © Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.