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Humanities Libertexts

3: Federalism

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    • 3.1: Federalism as a Structure for Power
      The Constitution and its amendments outline distinct powers and tasks for national and state governments. Some of these constitutional provisions enhance the power of the national government; others boost the power of the states. Checks and balances protect each level of government against encroachment by the others.
    • 3.2: The Meanings of Federalism
      The ink had barely dried on the Constitution when disputes arose over federalism. Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton hoped to build a strong national economic system; Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson favored a limited national government. Hamiltonian and Jeffersonian factions in President George Washington’s cabinet led to the first political parties: respectively, the Federalists, who favored national supremacy, and the Republicans, who supported states’ rights.
    • 3.3: Why Federalism Works (More or Less)
      State and local governments are essential parts of federalism because the federal government routinely needs them to execute national policy. State and local governments adjust the policies as best they can to meet their political preferences and their residents’ needs. Policies and the funds expended on them thus vary dramatically from one state to the next, even in national programs such as unemployment benefits.
    • 3.4: Federalism in the Information Age
      Federalism gives the American political system additional complexity and dynamism. The number of governments involved in a wide sweep of issues creates many ways for people in politics to be heard. These processes are facilitated by a media system that resembles federalism by its own merging and mingling of national, state, and local content and audiences.
    • 3.S: Federalism

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