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History

Federalism: Is It Ending?

No one can argue that our federal government is growing larger. But the problem is that it’s growing at the expense of the states.

One of the important issues in the US Constitution is the concept of federalism — the way in which power is shared between the federal government and the state governments. Over the years since the constitution was written, our federal government (the US Government) has grown larger, taken more power. Meanwhile, the states have lost more power over its own affairs.

In the past, states were responsible for overseeing the establishment of schools and regulating businesses, but this has changed recently.

The common core curriculum has taken precedence over the states controlling education within their borders. Our leaders in Washington D.C. believe that a one-size-fits-all curriculum is what’s best for school districts across the country. At state and local levels, however, officials are willing to debate that issue: that the localities know best what type of education their children need. Some states have opted out of common core since its establishment and some school districts have held protests against the curriculum.

President Obama has issued tens of thousands of regulations on businesses over the past eight years. In fact, this year will have a record number of regulations added to the Federal Register. This leads to centralization and more federal control over business and the economy. This is why it’s more difficult to open a small business today.

The fight between the states and federal government has been an ongoing one, and is always subjected to how the constitution is interpreted. The only thing that’s new in the attempt at government power grabs is the time we live in and a different realm of society that the US government is out to control or regulate. In other eras of American history, the issue of federalism took place with industry, civil rights, and slavery.

By the late 1800s, the growth of industry scared Americans who believed that the formation of trusts and monopolies would lead to colossal corporations that would take advantage of consumers. And they were right. As industries grew, prices rose, sometimes to levels that consumers couldn’t afford. President Theodore Roosevelt put his administration to work regulating trusts and monopolies, which the individual states were unable to do. Because of that, Roosevelt was nicknamed “the Trust Buster.’’

The slavery issue was a very contentious era in US history. As you know it led to the Civil War, but it was an issue that caused fighting as far back as 1820 as new states were entering the union. When a new state was established the fight began over the number of free states versus slave states. The number had to be equal because if there was one more free state or slave state, slavery could either be abolished nationwide or spread North to the free states and then westward depending on which faction held the majority in congress.

Throughout the first half of the 1800s, the Southern states argued that slavery was a state’s rights issue while the abolitionists of the North argued for ending slavery with the belief that it was immoral, and the US government should prohibit it nationwide. When the Civil War started, slavery was no longer a state’s rights issue.

The concept of federalism is an issue that is constantly evolving, sometimes for good intentions. But looking at its evolution the US Government seems to be the side that keeps gaining power while the states keep losing it.    

About pm

Teacher, writer, and freedom lover.

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