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History of the American Constitution

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  • Michael Dean
  • Jalal Nejad, Ph.D.

When the United States won freedom from Great Britain after the American Revolution they adopted the Articles of Confederation. Twenty-one years the United States was ruled by the Articles until they adopted the U.S. Constitution in 1787. This made it so that the nation was rules by a sovereign national government, but also the states were sovereign as well. Some advantages that this system has over a strong national government in a highly centralized system is that it encourages competition between the states, as well as it gives sovereignty to the states to run themselves how they best see fit. Some disadvantages of the current system in the United States are that due to federal funding of state budgets if the role of national government was more limited it would have a drastic economic effect on the state. Also due to the aggressive nature of many federal programs the states cannot effectively run these programs themselves and depend on federal support.

During the Articles of Confederation the national government was incredibly weak in power, this lack of national power left the nation not running as a whole unit but rather the states as separate organisms. After twenty-one years the United States rewrote their laws, and called it the U.S. Constitution. Under this set of laws the national government was sovereign but still getting its power from the people, and the states were sovereign as well and got their power from the people. Under the U.S. Constitution many different forms of federalism came and went, evolving to where the country is today, which is a marble-cake system of federalism. Marble-cake federalism is the cooperation between different levels of government, whether national, state, or local (Champagne Harpham 43).

An advantage this system of government has over a strong national government in a highly centralized system is that it inspires competition amongst the states. Every state has policy issues but most states try to fix that problem their own way. If a state is successful in correcting the issue, then the policy would adjusted nationally to replicate what the state did in order to fix the problem. Another advantage of this system is that it gives states freedom to govern how they best see fit. This goes from gun control laws, traffic violations, and even the death penalty.

Disadvantages to the current system in place would be that due to funding from the national government to states budgets if it were to be cut off or diminished, it would have a very profound effect on the economy of the state. This means that too much reliance on national government when it comes to money is a bad thing because some states rely very heavily on the federal government to help them balance their budget. Another disadvantage would be the reliance on federal support for different programs throughout the states, without their support many of these programs would suffer heavily or even fail completely. Due to this crutch that the states have they cannot fully be sovereign.

To conclude, this country has gone through many different types of federalism from complete separation of power between the different levels of government to where the country is now which is call marble-cake federalism. There are both advantages and disadvantages that this system has over a strong national government in a highly centralized system. Some advantages would be that it invokes creativity and competition throughout the states (Champagne Harpham 44), as well as giving the states freedom to govern how they see fit. Some disadvantages would be that the states rely too heavily on federal government for funding, as well as leaning too much on the national government when it comes to implementing and maintaining different programs.

Works Cited

  1. Champagne, Anthony, and Edward J. Harpham. Governing Texas:. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2013. Print.

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