Posted by: sponyak | February 2, 2008

Federalism

This is something I have been thinking about quite a bit recently, and I am working on a essay I will post on our blog/forum, but first I wanted to see what the group as a whole has to say on this subject.

As someone who is very much interested in all things related to Human interaction, and as someone who invests a great deal of their time in politics and government, I have been considering the role and possible future evolution of Federalism within our society. To clarify the topic, I offer the initial paragraph from Wikipedia’s entry on the subject: Political federalism is a political philosophy in which a group of members are bound together (Latin: foedus, covenant) with a governing representative head. The term federalism is also used to describe a system of the government in which sovereignty is constitutionally divided between a central governing authority and constituent political units (like states or provinces). Federalism is the system in which the power to govern is shared between the national & state governments, creating what is often called a federation. Proponents are often called federalists. The United States is the second largest and oldest Federation, with India being the most populous; Germany,Russia, Austria, Belgium, Netherlands,Switzerland, Bosnia and Herzegovina being European Federations; Nigeria, Sudan, Ethiopia being the only African Federations; Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, Mexico and Canada joining the U.S. in the New World; Australia, Malaysia, Iraq, Nepal, and the United Arab Emirates from Asia.

You can see the diversity here. It seems to me that Federalism is the governmental system of choice for nations with a tenacity for change. The African countries aside (as, sadly, they always seem to be), the countries that have adopted Federalism as their government structure appear to have three traits in common: they lack long-term historical and cultural independence, (in the way the French, Chinese, British, Iranians and Spanish have had, for example); they have all seen significant changes as far as their wealth and security are concerned; and, thanks to innumerable factors that cannot be listed here, have a great deal of exposure to outside influences that are reflected in their modern day culture.

So, my questions for you are: Do you feel, as I do, that the Federalist structure of Nation->State->Individual is effective and beneficial to our well being? What role should each element play within this system, and what power and rights should each posses? Where do corporations, churches, organizations (ours, the NRA, MADD, the many guilds and groups of Hollywood, etc.), hospitals, colleges and universities fit in, and how should they function within the Federal system, and what authority should each of them posses on their own?

I will post this on our blog, and in our forum, as well as with several other groups that I am a part of. My intent is to clarify for myself specifically, and those around me who are interested, just what direction our government should be heading in. I appreciate everyone’s input, and look forward to reading what you have to say.

Michael

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Responses

  1. Not everybody agrees on what rules should be used to govern a society. But there are some rules that most people agree on, and others that many disagree on. This is the basis of Federalism. Those laws that most agree on are passed at the federal level and affect everyone. The laws that people don’t agree on are handled on a regional basis, which makes it easier for people to live in a place where people hold similar values.

    First I would say that the United States has come a long way from the Federalism envisioned by its forefathers. The reasons why are actually good indications of some of the problems caused by Federalism. The problems are most evident in the US Civil War. One natural product of Federalism is division. People divide by region as they align themselves with people with similar values. When the people become too divided, they begin to think that their values should be right for everyone, which leads to contention between the states/regions, and sometimes war. The US civil war happened for just this reason. The divisions in the US became so great that sides could no longer coexist under the same government. The aftermath of the civil war was the death of true federalism in the US with the 14th Amendment:

    All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

    The 16th Amendment also dealt a blow federalism by ending tax apportionment by state.

    It’s clear that true federalism has its problems, but the original argument for it is still valid. If we don’t have any federalism, we end up with a kind of mob rule, where minorities are crushed by the populous. A clear example of this problem is seen in California’s legalized Marijuana laws. Here you have a state of 36 million people that think Marijuana should be legalized enough to pass a law to do so. The federal government however has banned the use of Marijuana. The result is legal Marijuana dispensaries (according to California law) being raided and shut down by Federal agencies.

    So, in conclusion, I think there needs to be some level of Federalism to prevent mob rule, but it needs to be flexible because to much federalism leads to divisiveness. In times where people become too divisive, we need to bring them back together, and in times were minorities loose there rights to popular will, we need to separate power a bit more

  2. In all honesty, I’m not sure what the U.S. system of government (as it stands now) should be called. I realize that we’re supposed to be a democracy, a republic, and a federation… this is confusing in itself.

    These days, our governmental structure appears to be either:

    corporations>nation>state>special interest groups>individual, or

    nation>corporations>state>special interest groups>individual, or worst of all,

    corporations>nation>state>special interest groups!

    …(in which the individual or groups of individuals really have no say-so at all, unless they’re a moneyed special interest individual or group).

    Ogliarchy?

  3. Corporatocracy


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