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Lesson 5 - What is"Federalism I often tell my students that...

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What is "Federalism"? I often tell my students that  reading  about American federalism and  working  with issues that  involve either providing federal funding to states for certain projects or shifting greater  responsibility for some programs like welfare back to the states are two very different things. Like most things in life, experience is everything! Watching federalism in action is fascinating.  It continually amazes me how foresighted our "founding fathers" were in recognizing the  importance of going one step further in limiting the power of the national government by  granting powers to states to operate within their own sphere of influence. It might make it  easier to think of the states and national government as "dancing partners"- arguing who is  going to take the lead. Federalism is defined as a : "division of powers between a national government and state  governments." As the authors of your textbook point out, what makes it a federal system is the fact that a  constitution divides power between a national government and state governments (Magleby  57). In a  federation  (which is what a federal system is), both the national and state governments  have  direct authority  or control through laws  over the people  in their states and the nation  as a whole. Why Did the Framers Establish a Federal Republic? James Madison believed that establishing a federal republic helps to prevent tyranny by  having the  states  at the end of the day  check the power of the national government . If a majority did take "control" of the national government, states could provide alternative  ideas and candidates for public office ( Magleby 60 ). For example, in the 109th Congress, the  Republicans were in the majority with a Republican in the White House. However, the  Republicans did not control all Governorships and statehouses around the country.  Democrats offered their own agenda as an alternative to the American public. Also, if a majority of people in a state wanted to promote a particular issue, the idea would not  necessarily be adopted by all the states or the U.S. Congress. It might be only important to  the residents of that particular state (Magleby A-4). You may remember from reading  Federalist #10  that James Madison was concerned that some states had passed laws that 
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favored debtors at the expense of creditors. He wanted to protect the interests of property  owners, in part, by dividing power between the national and state governments.
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