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Federalism and Government Styles in the United States Report (Assessment)

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Updated: Dec 29th, 2020

What is federalism? What are the advantages and disadvantages of federalism?

Federalism is a type of government in which the sovereignty is shared between a primary governing center and the political units (such as states) that form its foundations (Lacroix 2010, 1-19). In this regard, power is divided between the central national government and local authorities. Federalism is advantageous because it provides a balance of power and, in this way, avoiding situations of individuals abusing public offices.

It is because the individual at the top is held accountable by the leaders of the local authorities. Secondly, federalism allows for the proper distribution of government resources. If the entire country is administrated by one central heading body, some regions may end up not receiving a proper share of the available government resources because the leaders at the top may not realize the situation on the ground.

Therefore, the county/provincial/state heads step in to advocate for their regions to receive the deserved amount of the public resources. Federalism also encourages innovation. For instance, a number of the local governments may be supporting different reform strategies in a given public domain. An analysis of the available approaches can provide a clear indication of which policy could be better applied in the situation as well as leave room for changes if the need arises.

Even with these positives, federalism also has some downfalls. Top on the list is the fact that the division of power between the central government and local authorities can lead to a mix up occasioned by an overlap of various elements. For instance, in times of crisis, there can be a delay in addressing the situation owing to confusion as to whether the central or local government should assume responsibility.

Federal governments are also very expensive to maintain. It is because they require that more individuals are elected at both the central and local governments. In this regard, it is only the wealthy states that can afford it. Another weakness of federalism is that it leads to unhealthy competition between regions. With all the states, provinces, and counties forming the various local governments competing for the largest share of the resources, there may be continuous public debates and cajoling by the regional heads seeking allocations that they may not even need. Federalism also brings about regional inequalities.

The distribution of resources is uneven in any given country. In the federal systems, the states that have more natural and man-made resources provide more opportunities for their citizens compared to regions with fewer resources.

What other styles of government exist? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each?

Aside from federalism, there are two other principal systems of government, unitary state, and confederation. The unitary state systems are governments in which the supreme authority is vested in central power. All the other administrative authorities can only operate within the frameworks established by the central government. The unitary state system has several advantages. First, is the fact that these types of governments are lean and therefore require the election of a small number of allowances. It translates to fewer government resources being spent on salaries and allowances.

Secondly, the process of decision making is effective because the number of individuals to be consulted is reduced. The main disadvantages of this system of government stem from the fact that there is no direct linkage between the government and the constituent regions. It may, therefore, lead to some areas developing at the expense of others. Aside from this, it is difficult to maintain accountability as the number of individuals leading the government is reduced.

A confederate government is an association of sovereign states whereby the local governments have more power than the central government. These types of governments have a parliament, a judicial system but do not have the executive. The primary advantage of the confederate system of government is that there is economic stability within the region. It is because the member states can create their trade barriers and tariffs, in a way ensuring that they keep all the commercial benefits within the region. Secondly, there is both political and social stability within the regions because all the member states can support each other in times of disagreements and calamities.

What is the Federal debt, and how is it related to the deficit?

Federal debt is the total amount of money that a federal government needs to pay to its creditors. The deficit, on the other hand, is the difference between a government’s earnings and its expenditure. Federal debt is used to topping up the deficit.

What is an interest group, and how does it differ from a political party?

Interest groups are associations that advocate for particular policies, while political parties are organizations whose main aim is to acquire political supremacy in congress through capturing the highest number of seats.

What is the right to privacy? Where is it found?

The right to privacy is the right that accords the individual’s freedom against unwarranted intrusion (Prosser 1960, 383). There is no mention of the right to privacy in the constitution. However, the Supreme Court has provided an analysis of the amendments as essentially stipulating the creation of this right. One such amendment is the fourth, which offers individuals protection against unauthorized searches by the policy.

Reference List

LaCroix, Alison L. 2010. The Ideological Origins of American Federalism. Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States: Harvard University Press.

Prosser, Dean. 1960. “Privacy”. California Law Review 48: p.383.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Federalism and Government Styles in the United States." December 29, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/federalism-and-government-styles-in-the-united-states/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Federalism and Government Styles in the United States'. 29 December.

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