Chapter03-Federalism - A.P Civics Notes Chapter...

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A.P. Civics Notes: Chapter 3 “Federalism” I. Governmental Structure 1. The   single   most   persistent   source   of   conflict   in   U.S.   politics   since   the   adoption   of   the  Constitution  has been the relations between the national and state governments. 2. Today, an effort is underway to reduce national gov’t powers, giving more strength to the states;  this effort is known as  devolution . i. Some proposals give states   block grants   in which states get money that they can  spend in any way they want—as long as it is within broad guidelines set by Congress. 3. Federalism  is the political system in which local units of government and a national government  make final decisions with respect to at least some governmental activities and whose existence  is specially protected; both local and national forms of government have their own sovereign  powers and some powers that overlap, thus making the two share authority. i. The United States, Canada, Australia, India, Germany, and Switzerland have federal  systems. ii. France, Great Britain, Italy, and Sweden have  unitary systems  in which the national  government can abolish local governments at will and have the final say in all important  gov’t matters. iii. Federalism works in practice due to the people; the USSR technically had a “federalist”  gov’t, but in reality, the Kremlin controlled the “states.” a. It takes the commitment of the people to support a slightly independent local  gov’t and the same desire from the Congressmen to allow local governments to  exist. iv. The national government, while owning sweeping powers, actually exercises most of  those powers through state, county, and city governments. 4. To some, federalism means allowing states to block actions, prevent progress, upset national  plans, protect powerful local interests, and cater to the self-interest of hack politicians; to others,  it   means   developing   mechanisms   vital   to   governmental   strength,   political   flexibility,   and  individual liberty. i. Federalism allows people to pass laws according to local interest, and even though  some may pass bad laws, others may pass laws to counteract the previous “bad” laws.
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ii. EXAMPLE: In England and France, local groups would have no success in trying to  ban the landing of Concorde jets in local airports, but in the U.S., such groups have  actually won. 5.
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This note was uploaded on 04/07/2008 for the course USHIST 102 taught by Professor Smythe during the Spring '08 term at TCU.

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Chapter03-Federalism - A.P Civics Notes Chapter...

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