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Federalism, Confederation and Political Ideology

1. Explain the reasons why federalism was chosen instead of either confederation or a unitary system in 1787.

2. How does federalism keep government closer to the people? Is state government necessarily more responsive to the people than the federal government?

3. Distinguish between inherent, implied, and express powers. Give an example of each.

4. Will interstate compacts become more important with the development of new technologies? Give examples to support your answer.

5. What values are shared by most Americans?

6. Distinguish between "liberal" and "conservative". How useful are these labels in today's political discourse?

7. How have various developments in American history modified the political ideology of Americans?

8. How are basic beliefs in both freedom and equality represented in American policies today? Give examples of policies where you think that these values are compatible and where you think that they may be incompatible?

9. Is American diversity becoming increasingly that of reinforcing cleavages rather than cross-cutting cleavages?

10. Research the last two presidential elections and look for evidences of candidates appealing to particular gender issues. What are these issues and how did candidates appeal to them?

11. Compared with many other countries, America is a relatively very diverse country. Why haven't American problems with diversity been as difficult as those encountered by Canada, India, or the former Yugoslavia?

12. What are the special concerns of older Americans? How are these reflected in political participation?

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RESPONSE:

1. Explain the reasons why federalism was chosen instead of either confederation or a unitary system in 1787.

Federalism is a political system that binds a group of states into a larger, non-centralized, superior state while allowing them to maintain their own political identities. Certain characteristics and principles are common to all successful federal systems: a written constitution or basic law stipulating the distribution of powers; diffusion of power among the constituent elements, which are substantially self-sustaining; and territorial divisions to ensure neutrality and equality in the representation of various groups and interests. Changes require the consent of those affected. Successful federal systems also have a sense of common nationality and direct lines of communication between the citizens and all the governments that serve them. It met the needs of the American people better than confederation or a unitary system, according to the Philadelphia Convention, for example. http://www.answers.com/topic/federalism

Why? Interestingly, Hamilton wanted a new national government that had complete political authority. He disliked state governments and believed that they should be eliminated entirely. In fact, Hamilton believed that the perfect union would be one in which there were no states at all. At the same time, however, Hamilton realized that eliminating the states was impossible, at least at the Philadelphia Convention, because there were too many other Americans who favoured the rights of the states over a strong national government. Hamilton drafted a proposal for a new national government that would centralize power but still allow states to retain many of their rights and individuality. Hamilton devised his plan so that the new government would combine the best aspects of different governmental systems throughout the world. He strongly believed that the best form of government was the British system, which consisted of a strong monarch, an assembly of aristocrats called the House of Lords, and another assembly of commoners called the House of Commons. http://www.sparknotes.com/biography/hamilton/section6.rhtml

Although Hamilton attended most of the proceedings at the 1787 Philadelphia Convention, he did not actually participate much in the drafting of the new document. Hamilton argued that a new and stronger central government was needed to correct the mistakes made in the government outlined in the Articles of Confederation, but many of the other delegates felt his ideas were too radical and labelled Hamilton an extremist. Nevertheless, when the new Constitution was presented to the delegates at the convention, Hamilton signed the document. Hamilton believed the Constitution was a step in the right direction, and also believed that if it was not approved, the entire union could collapse. With this in mind, Hamilton returned to New York, where he published a series of essays to encourage the people of New York to ratify the Constitution. Hamilton co-authored the essays with John Jay and James Madison under the pseudonym "Publius," and the collection came to be known as the Federalist Papers. The essays succeeded in convincing Americans to ratify the Constitution. http://www.sparknotes.com/biography/hamilton/summary.html

Examples of modern federal systems include the U.S., Brazil, Germany, and Nigeria. See also Federalist papers; Federalist Party. http://www.answers.com/topic/federalism

2. How does federalism keep government closer to the people? Is state government necessarily more responsive to the people than the federal government?

As mentioned above, Federalism is a political system that binds a group of states into a larger, non-centralized, superior state while allowing them to maintain their own political identities. Certain characteristics and principles are common to all successful federal systems, which keep government closer to the people. For example, it contained a written constitution or basic law stipulating the distribution of powers; diffusion of power among the constituent elements, which are substantially self-sustaining; and territorial divisions to ensure neutrality and equality in the representation of various groups and interests. Thus, the federalism is believed to keep the government closer to the people, through decentralized power across the states. That is, changes require the consent of those affected. Successful federal systems also have a sense of common nationality and direct lines of communication between the citizens and all the governments that serve them. http://www.answers.com/topic/federalism

Extra Reading:

As mentioned above, Hamilton strongly believed that the best form of government was the British system, which consisted of a strong monarch, an assembly of aristocrats called the House of Lords, and another assembly of commoners called the House of Commons. This system permitted the people to participate in government via representation in Parliament, but fostered national unity and centralized power under the king or queen. Hamilton's plan for a new United States government reflected this preference for the British system.

· As mentioned above, Hamilton strongly believed that the best form of government was the British system, which consisted of a strong monarch, an assembly of aristocrats called the House of Lords, and another assembly of commoners called the House of Commons. This system permitted the people to participate in government via representation in Parliament, but fostered national unity and centralized power under the king or queen. Hamilton's plan for a new United States government reflected this preference for the British system. http://www.sparknotes.com/biography/hamilton/section6.rhtml

· However, Hamilton believed that the new American government should be divided into three branches: the executive branch, the legislative congress, and the judiciary branch. Dividing the government into three segments would provide checks and balances to prevent any one branch from becoming too powerful, and Hamilton also believed that by working together, the three different branches could centralize their power over the states. The executive of the government would be the President of the United States, and would be elected by a system of electoral colleges to serve a life term.

· Hamilton thought that serving for life-or rather, during good behaviour-would give stability to the executive office. He reasoned that if presidential terms were limited to a few years, the president would have difficulty achieving policy goals for the good of the country and would probably accomplish very little. Hamilton also thought that short service terms only encouraged politicians to focus on re-election, rather than ruling the nation. The Congress, Hamilton thought, should be bicameral: the upper chamber, called the Senate, would consist of the nation's elite aristocrats, while the lower chamber, known as the Assembly, would be the seat of democracy for the American people. Senators would be elected for life and Assemblyman would be elected for a term of three years. Finally, the judiciary system would consist of a Supreme Court and a series of smaller national courts. All national court justices would serve life terms.

· Clearly, Hamilton's system closely mirrored the British system of government, but it also closely resembles the form of government that the delegates in Philadelphia eventually agreed upon.

· The United States Government under the Constitution is tripartite, with executive, legislative, and judiciary branches. The Congress consists of two houses, the upper designed as a distinguished body, while the lower is more populist and democratic. A Supreme Court and a series of smaller circuit courts exist as well, and the justices are appointed to serve life terms. In the end, the delegates chose to abandon the Articles of Confederation and draft a completely new document to outline the new government of the United States. The committee that drafted the Constitution presented the finished draft to the assembly on September 17, 1787. Although Hamilton held deep reservations about the new government, he signed the Constitution because he felt that it met his basic requirements for a central government. Hamilton also knew that in order for the fledgling United States to survive, this new government had to be approved. He therefore not only signed the document, but encouraged the other delegates to do so as well. The delegates at the Philadelphia Convention approved the new document and then presented the Constitution to the states. According to the laws in the Articles of Confederation, nine of the thirteen states had to ratify the Constitution in order for it to become law.

· Hamilton rushed home to New York to begin his campaign to convince the people of New York to ratify the Constitution. This task was the most difficult of the entire process, because many state leaders and citizens feared that a strong national government would violate the freedom they had recently won from Great Britain. The campaign was particularly difficult for Hamilton in New York, where his former colleagues Robert Yates and John Lansing had been working with Governor George Clinton to campaign against ratification of the new Constitution. New Yorkers were essentially convinced that any new and stronger national government would eliminate their liberty.

· To combat the Anti-Federalists in his home state, Hamilton decided to write a series of essays to convince the people that the Constitution was essential to their liberty. Hamilton enlisted John Jay and James Madison to assist him in writing the essays, which were eventually published as pamphlets and magazine articles throughout the United States. On the average, four essays were published each week, and these became collectively known as the Federalist Papers. All three authors used the pseudonym Publius to make it seem as if a single common man had written all the essays. Historians therefore do not know exactly how many essays Hamilton wrote, but from the tone of the essays, it is believed that he authored fifty-two on his own, and have assisted in writing at least fifteen others. http://www.sparknotes.com/biography/hamilton/section6.rhtml

3. Distinguish between inherent, implied, and express powers. Give an example of each.

The three types of Federal Power are:

1. Expressly Delegated Powers

These are the powers we speak about in the Constitution. The federal government, we normally say, consists only of delegated powers, except for a few inherent powers in foreign affairs. When we say delegated powers we mean, people of the United States, through their chosen representatives, got together back in 1787 and held a constitutional convention and decided to delegate the federal government certain powers. The federal government would have those powers and not others with the exception of inherent powers in foreign affairs.

2. Impliedly Delegated Powers (McCulloch)

McCulloch Case - Two issues: (1) Whether or not the Constitution authorizes Congress to create a national bank; and (2) whether the state can tax that bank. The court says that the government is a government of delegated powers. Marshall did not depart from that concept at all. The question is really whether delegated powers means only expressly delegated powers or also include some powers that are impliedly delegated. Marshall reasoned that the delegated powers included implied powers, based in part on the necessary and proper clause (Art. I, Sec. 8), and in the Articles of Confederation they had language similar to the 10th Amendment, . . . powers not delegated to the United States are reserved to the states, in the Articles it said powers not "expressly" delegated. When the framers of the 10th Amendment chose not to use that word "expressly" was an implied recognition on their part that the authors of the 10th Amendment clearly meant that ...

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