A.P. Civics Notes: Chapter 3
The single most persistent source of conflict in U.S. politics since the adoption of
has been the relations between the national and state governments.
Today, an effort is underway to reduce national gov’t powers, giving more strength to the states;
this effort is known as
Some proposals give states
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.
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.
The United States, Canada, Australia, India, Germany, and Switzerland have federal
France, Great Britain, Italy, and Sweden have
in which the national
government can abolish local governments at will and have the final say in all important
Federalism works in practice due to the people; the USSR technically had a “federalist”
gov’t, but in reality, the Kremlin controlled the “states.”
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
The national government, while owning sweeping powers, actually exercises most of
those powers through state, county, and city governments.
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
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.