What is Federalism?

Assignment Instructions

Write 4 pages paper on American federalism in which you:

  1. Provide three (3) examples of how federalism has evolved from its origins to the American political system in place today.
  2. Examine three to five (3-5) factors that have allowed the concept of federalism to shape American political behavior.
  3. Discuss at least two (2) factors that illustrate how the relationship between the states and the U.S. federal government influences the creation of American policies overall.
  4. Use at least three (3) quality academic resources in this assignment. Note: Wikipedia and other Websites to not qualify as academic resources.


Your assignment must follow these formatting requirements:

  • Be typed, double spaced, using Times New Roman font (size 12), with one-inch margins on all sides; citations and references must follow APA or school-specific format. Check with your professor for any additional instructions.
  • Include a cover page containing the title of the assignment, the student’s name, the professor’s name, the course title, and the date. The cover page and the reference page are not included in the required assignment page length.





Federalism is referred to as a political system where by power is shared and divided between the states and central or national governments. The national government powers have been enormously increased over the years, at the states expense. The Supreme Court has contributed a great deal in describing the powers and association of the national government via its extensive interpretation of the commerce and supremacy clauses. This paper reviews the evolution of federalism and the factors that influence the molding of federalism concepts as well as the factor that influence the association between state and national government in making policies.

Examples of Federalism Evolution

Federalism has gone through four main stages that include dual feudalism, cooperative federalism, regulated federalism and new federalism. Dual federalism is defined as a stage of federalism in which the national and state government functions remained greatly separated. In this stage, there was a clear cut line and limits between the state and the national government, appearing like a layered cake. Therefore, the two governments did not interfere with each other. This stage took place from 1789 to 1937 (Csun.edu, n.d.).

Cooperative federalism was the second stage of federalism in which the ‘New Deal’ programs needed cooperation across all governmental levels. In this stage the role of national government was increased, an aspect that changed the power balance. This resulted to an integrated power such that the ruling during this time resembled a marble cake. This stage existed between 1937 and 1968.

The third stage was regulated federalism that was experienced between 1963 and 1981. In this stage there was further intervention of the national government on matters regarding the decision making in the state government by intimidating to suppress federal grants for particular purposes. This limited the growth and the expansion of the state government. This also expanded the power of the national government further suppressing the state government power.  The end of this stage gave birth to the new federalism which rules in the American government up to now.

The new federalism reduced the size and the power of the federal government and increased that of the state governments. Since then, the states government is gaining more and more power, with President Bush devolving the power further to the state government. This period was also characterized by the formation of supremacy law where the article VI clause 2, supremacy clause define the association between the state and national government an aspect that defines their union. The clause guides the federal and the constitution treaties and laws should take superiority over state law and forces all judges to follow this principle (Csun.edu, n.d.).

Factors that have allowed the Federalism to Shape the American Political Behavior

Federalism has basically been changing based on the ruling regimes with some government preferring to remain on control while others preferring to share the power with the state government. This basically means that federalism has managed to shape the political behaviors based from the voting system. If voters consider a more power centered leader the federalism changes to support more power for national government and vice versa. Some of these factors include race and ethnicity, region and religion. American has for a long time been divided in races especially when it comes to political affairs. Although the racial has greatly declined, the voting behavior is still defined by races with most black Americans and a considerable amount of Latino Americans having a history of voting for democracy while most white goes for libels. This determines the majorities in the parliament and thus, the kind of legislation to be formed. Voting in America is also influenced more on the geographic location of the voters. More individuals follow the regional trends that were practice long time ago where racism was the key to the definition of the American society. Currently most individuals residing in All American cost are libels while others are democratic. Finally, the religion also highly influences people political behaviors. Most Jews are said to be democratic and thus, they tend to vote to promote democratic candidates. On the other hand, most Catholics as well as Protestants are libels and they always support leaders with their ideologies. All the three factors ensures that the population defines the character of the majority in the legislative and thus, influencing the political direction of the country (UShistory.org, 2014).

Factors that Determine the Relation between the State and the Federal Government in defining the Policies

The making of policy between the national and the state government is basically defined by their power limit. Some of the factors that determine this include the constitution and the Supreme Court. The sharing of power and duties in making policies is currently defined in the Constitution. Each government has its own limit and no government should interfere with the other. Therefore, policies regarding issues faced in a state should be made there and rule only in that state. However, policies focusing on solving issues related to the nation are defined by the federal government. The Supreme Court is also used to resolve any disputes experienced between the two governments. This could be necessary when a national matter affect every state differently such that an individual national policy cannot comprehensively resolve the problems experienced in a certain state. This is also common when the issue at hand is considered differently in different regions based on their values and norms (Nga.org, 2011).

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