Federalism Cycle And States’ Coping Mechanisms

Federalism is a governing system in which two divisions of government oversight the same region. Federal systems accomplish this by enabling basic policies to be developed and executed through some type of discussion so that all members may participate in making and carrying out choices. As a result, the structuring concept of federalism in the United States distributes authority between the national federal government and the state governments, both of which have written legal systems and, therefore, can significantly impact people. The current paper discusses the cyclical pattern and states’ coping mechanisms under federalism.

The federal system of the United States is a phenomenon that declines and cyclically resurges in power, while its meaning changes over time as well. For example, many politicians believed that states’ rights permitted states to defy any national authority that, in their opinion, exceeded its powers during the early decades of the republic (Paletz et al.). Such a decline in federalism was caused by economic and social differences between the South and North. Slavery declined after the Revolutionary War in the North, wherein enslaved people worked as household servants or farmhands. Labor-intensive crops grown on fields were the foundation of Southern wealth, mainly relying on slave labor. The Civil War loss of the South invalidated the strengths of federalism, and state authorities’ efforts to ignore national commands have been unsuccessful since then. However, this stage was followed by dual federalism, which established a distinct division of work between federal and state governments due to differences in thoughts regarding taxes (Paletz et al.). As seen from these illustrations, federalism has risen and declined in power in a cyclical manner, which is caused by the country’s political, social, and economic changes.

The challenges thrust upon states by shifts in federalism have called upon local governments’ abilities to cope with them. Generally, the states rely on the legal system and regional courts to promote their needs and rights when the national government is pressing. In turn, the federal government uses national emergencies as a reason to cooperate with the states. For example, McCulloch v. Maryland case dealt with an inherent federalism conflict. Namely, the Chief Justice admitted that the Constitution did not explicitly grant Congress the authority to charge a national bank (Paletz et al.). However, the solution was that when a state’s laws conflict with the functioning of the federal government, the latter takes priority. The other example concerns the recent COVID-19 crisis. The significant pressure mounted at the governance faulted lines inherent in the distinctive cultural federal form of government (Benton). Nevertheless, national, state and municipal levels collaborated as separate, independent entities to encourage and support the general welfare (Benton). Therefore, the balance between the state and the federal government is upheld due to legal and administrative cooperation, which is especially important during a crisis.

To conclude, federalism is a rising and declining phenomenon due to political, economic, and social changes in the country, which subsequently cause discrepancies. The cases of upsurge and downgrade of federalism, thus, are determined by the events in a particular society. In view of the constant change, states develop and use mechanisms to balance their and federal power, which include legal and administrative structures. However, in times of crisis, the national and states governments try to collaborate to achieve acceptable welfare for the citizens.

Works Cited

Benton, J. Edwin. “Challenges to Federalism and Intergovernmental Relations and Takeaways Amid the COVID-19 Experience.” The American Review of Public Administration, vol. 50, no. 6–7, SAGE Publications, 2020, pp. 536–42.

Paletz, David, et al. American Government and Politics in the Information Age. FlatWorld, 2021.