FEDERALISM: The Way The U.S. Was Supposed to Work


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By Jeffery Johnson

Most people who have been in any political conversation or debate about the size of government have heard words and phrases that point to the constitution as rebuttals, but what do they really mean?

Our system of government isn’t like most. Contrary to popular belief, the federal government isn’t where most of our legislation comes from, and historically federal legislation is the least likely to affect everyday people.

When the Constitution was ratified in 1788, the founding fathers created a unique system that gave power not only to the national government,  but it reserved more power to individual states knowing that state governments would be able to more effectively make legislation for their constituents. This system is commonly known as Federalism.

The Federal Government was created with a very limited scope of power. Most things that the government can do are found in Article I Section XIII of the Constitution. All things not listed in the constitution are reserved for the states to legislate under the Tenth Amendment.

As you may have noticed, this isn’t the way the government currently works.

Things like voting, healthcare, and consumer protection laws have slowly been taken from the states and are now at least partially controlled by the federal government.

So how do we fix this problem?

Congress needs to get rid of laws that aren’t in their constitutional jurisdiction. Let states legislate issues the way that their citizens want them fixed. An issue in Texas may not be an issue in California. Congress needs to stick to their constitutional powers instead of finding ways to broaden their own.

It’s also important to appoint federal judges who interpret the constitution rather than adding things they want from the bench. Judges have routinely upheld laws that Congress doesn’t have the right to make.

While both of these methods would technically work, only one of them even somewhat realistic. Congress is not going to give up power. In fact, they keep finding ways to expand their power. That leaves it up to the supreme court. While the Supreme Court does have a majority of originalist judges, it’s still unlikely that they will overturn precedent.

The only way that we can fix this problem is by electing leaders who will give power back to the states and will appoint and confirm judges who are willing to overturn precedent in favor of protecting the Constitution. We need to do this to protect our states’ governments because a state government actually understand its voters.

State politicians understand their constituents better than federal politicians because they are a part of the state that they are governing and they understand the problems that need to be fixed in their own communities. Federal politicians will never be able to solve problems for the whole country because every community is different, and what is a problem in one place may not be a problem in another.

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