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Political Education

My Problems with Federalism

My Problems with Federalism

My problem with Federalism is in 2021 is Federalism creates more problems than it solves. 

Federalism is a mixed or compound mode of government that combines a general government (the central or “federal” government) with regional governments (provincial, state, cantonal, territorial or other sub-unit governments) in a single political system. Its distinctive feature first embodied in the Constitution of the United States of 1789

Wikipedia page on Federalism

In an easier-to-digest form, in the United States, there are Federal Laws, and there are state laws. Fifty different sets of state laws. This comes from the Bill of Rights. 

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Amendment 10 United States Constitution

Why Federalism?

In 1776 individuals saw themselves as Virginians and New Yorkers more than they saw themselves as “Americans.” Most historians will concede the “American” identity was solidified in the years after the US Civil War. I am not saying at all that people aren’t proud of their state anymore. On the contrary, some United States regions have a strong heritage and cultural identity in the United States. But in 2021, the average person doesn’t think about how widely their rights vary from state to state.

What does it all mean?

Federalism allows states to control anything that there isn’t a Federal Law for. For example, the Constitution gives the Federal Government the right to control “interstate commerce,” so the FDA can control the food and drugs going on store shelves. On the other hand, the Constitution says nothing about marriage. States can control how someone gets married. This includes, what a person needs to do to get married, and at what age a person can get married. There are federal laws against discrimination based on race and gender. The Supreme Court ruled that states cannot prevent people from marrying because they are two different races or the same gender. The Federal government cannot ban weapons, but states can control who can sell weapons. Schools are usually funded by property taxes leaving some states underfunded and some states with great schools.

These differences in laws across different states usually hurt poor people more than anyone else. For example, suppose abortion is illegal in one state. In that case, a person with means will just fly to another state to obtain an abortion. While a person with fewer means will be stuck in a situation that they may not want to be in. If a state has strict gun laws, a person or criminal can drive to another state and buy the weapon they want. 

We live in a world with high-speed internet, cars, and planes. So why should Americans live in a country with a different set of rules for Californians than for Texans? We need to drop this notion of “states rights” and realize that we live in one country that should have one set of rules for all of its citizens. 

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