Federalism and Types of Powers
How it works
The American Federal Government was created using the ideals of the people during the beginning of our countries existence. These particular ideals are still the ideals that are present in modern day America they include democracy, rights, liberty, opportunity and equality. These ideals are what influenced the creation of the separation of powers, check and balances and federalism. And they continue to impact working of the legislative, executive and judicial branch just like they have in the past. Due to these ideals, and the changes they have caused, it has impacted the American Federal Bureaucracy.
These ideals are what you think of when you think of the American government, from having a say in the government to the freedom of the people, they have played a significant role in our government throughout the United States history. What ideals are so powerful that they can change so much about our government? First is democracy, this is a form of government that most power is vested in the people and their power can be exercised directly or indirectly through the system of representation.
This is part of the reason as to why we have so many elections, it is because the people want their opinions to be heard and by selecting like minded individuals who are running for a position in the government it makes them feel as though their opinion will help play a role. For the people this means that we can vote for a lot of our representatives such as the president, congressmen or congresswomen, senators and many more. This system of electing people after a set number of years also helps the US from falling into a monarchy where all the leaders are descendants from one person and rule only because of their blood line and not their values. Democracy additionally helps prevent the case of the minority governing the majority like we have seen in history before with hierarchical caste systems. Minority governing the majority is when there are a handful of people that are at the top of the social class and they have more power than all of the people below them combined, this allows them to make decisions that only benefit themselves. Democracy helps the people be heard without the minority ruling, it keeps our government from falling into the hands of the corrupt and it lets the people be heard. What could change us more than democracy, the form of government itself? The rights of the people that the democracy governs, rights is something that a person has a just claim to.
There are numerous documents that state the rights of the US citizens, such as the bill of rights which contains the first 10 amendments, the US constitution and the declaration of independence all carry claims to rights of the people, the US citizens. Most commonly referenced when referring to the rights of the people is the bill of rights (Bill of Rights, Amendments 1-10). These amendments include the rights to freedom of speech, press and religion, the right to bear arms and more. These rights are so crucial because they give citizens the right to carry out actions to satisfy their needs or desires in an effective and efficient manner without depending in the government. Other than democracy and rights there is liberty, the quality or state of being free. Liberty is another ideal that is emphasized in the bill of rights and US constitution. It is very similar to rights but the difference between rights and liberty is the fact that liberty is not having, in this case it would be the government, oppressing your views, your outlook on life, politics or daily life in general.
Liberty in our government means that there are certain unalienable rights that we have as people regardless if we are , they aren’t granted to us like rights. With democracy, rights and liberty the citizens of the US have a lot of freedom and with all this freedom comes opportunity for new things, opportunity is a chance of advancement or progress. Everyone in their jobs hopes for a promotion or pay raise and this is exactly what the people mean when they say they want equal opportunities, two ideals to achieve a common goal of the people. Whether it is by means of gender, race or religion people want to be offered the same opportunities as those around them. This ideal basically boils down to people don’t want to be treated differently so to prevent this everyone must how the same opportunities as the next. Of course in certain cases there might be restrictions but we do not want to be discriminated against and held back because we didn’t have the same opportunity as the next person. Opportunity perfectly leads into the final ideal which is equality, the state of being equal.
Represented in the 14th amendment of the US constitution it clearly states “All persons or naturalized in the United Stated and subject to jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; now deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws” (US Constitution, 14th Amendment). This ideal also cracks down on ideas like racism or homophobia, everyone is equal to one another regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, loved ones or any other defining feature. All of the ideals, democracy, rights, liberty, opportunity and equality are all classic American ideals that you think of when you think of what do the Americans truly fight for.
All five of these ideals are very powerful but combined they are much stronger, these ideals exhibit what the American people truly desire. These ideals are what helped create the separation of powers, checks and balances, and federalism. What is the separation of powers and where did it come from? It first came from a similar idea from Ancient Rome and second from Baron de Montesquieu, an enlightenment philosopher (New Visions, The Enlightenment), both of their ideas were similar as they didn’t want one person or group of people to have too much power or control over others. As a result, there are three different branches of the government, legislative, executive, and judicial and each has its own separate sub-sections, such as congress or supreme court for example, along with individual roles and responsibilities. The legislative branch of the government consists of senate and congress, the senate is composed of two senators from each state and congressmen which is based on how many congressional districts a state has. This branch is responsible for making laws. The executive branch contains the president, vice president and cabinet members who all get replaced every 4 years, they oversee the signing of laws into practice, vetoing laws, appointing federal judges and much more.
Finally, the judicial branch which contains the supreme court, these nine members of the supreme court are appointed by the president and confirmed by the senate, their job is to decide if laws are constitutional or not and can overrule decisions made by other judges. The separation of power allows each branch to handle its own operations but now that each branch holds its own power there has to be a system that checks the power of each branch with the powers of the other branched to make sure no branch of government can gain too much power over the others. Considering that the powers of the government are separated they must be able to have some opinion on each other decisions in order to prevent unequal ruling. To prevent this unjust ruling from happening the checks and balances were incorporated into our government, this was around the late 1700’s (Checks and Balances, 2018).
Checks and balances exist for all three branches of government and each branch has their own unique power over the others, the checks the executive branch has over the judicial will not be the same checks as the legislative has over judicial. For instance, the executive branch, or the president, has the power to veto a law, in return the legislative branch, or congress, can hold a vote to override the president’s veto if two-thirds of congress votes for the law to be passed (Checks and Balances, 2018). Each of the three branches hold their own unique power over one another so there is no one branch that is too powerful or can make a ruling that can’t be reversed. With the checks and balances there is opportunity for each branch to put its own opinion forward before a bill gets signed by the president or a member of another branch gets appointed wrongfully. Checks and balances represent the ideals of equality, opportunity, and in a way democracy. Each branch of government is to be equal in power and checks and balances allows the government to regulate this.
Opportunity because each branch has an opportunity to prevent a law from passing or make sure a law does pass or declare a law unjust, regardless of what action they must take each branch has a way to approach things they might see wrong and correct them. And democracy because the representatives that the people are electing are making these decisions of whether to pass or hold back something. Checks and balances isn’t the only thing that ideals have inspired within our government Federalism is different than checks and balances and separation of power, but it has a similar role to play when it come to the grand scheme of things. There are three significant types of federalism that have existed in the United States, dual federalism, cooperative federalism and new federalism (The Evolution of American Federalism). Dual federalism had been around since the beginning of the united states and ended with the enactment of the New Deal signed in by president Franklin D. Roosevelt, this type meant that the national governments and state governments were separated. At the time the state held more power than the national government, this needed to be changed because if a state were to become corrupt in values the national government must have a way of preventing this and that includes holding some power over the states head.
Cooperative federalism is a system that started in the early 1900’s and ended later in the 1960’s, this was where the national government encourages state governments to engage in goals set by the national government. To encourage the states to do what the national government wanted them to do they gave grants, states can apply to receive these grants to then help fix the issue. However new to cooperative federalism is rules and regulations that the national government can place on the state government like regulations about factory emissions. Almost a decade after cooperative federalism came to an end new federalism came into the spotlight. This was a type of federalism that allowed for more engagement from the state and local governments, it was very similar to cooperative federalism with a few differences. Separations of power, checks and balances, and federalism are all early examples of the American ideals at work. People didn’t want the government to maintain too much power over them , so separation of power and federalism were created.
Separation of power so to make sure each branch of government was responsible for different things a division of the labor of government instead of having one almighty power. To then make sure that the three branches of government didn’t have too much power over each other checks and balances were created so each branch could check the powers of others. Federalism was to make sure that the national government could not control too much or too little of the state and local governments. These ideals have been a part of the US since the beginning and they are very much still alive with recent activities. The ideals that helped shape the American federal government in the beginning are still alive and well now but in different ways with more recent problems. More recently the equality and opportunity ideals have been playing a huge role with both the LGBTQ+ group and women. Gay marriage was legalized on June 26th, 2015; this was once a concept that was widely discriminated against. In 1996 former President Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act which stated that marriage was between a man and women (Implementing Marriage Equality in America, 2015).
In the following six months after the act was signed caused a variety of emotions, three states either declared that the act was unconstitutional or recognized and four states give out same-sex marriage licenses regardless the act, California even gave out 4,000 gay-marriage licenses. Now we see a dramatic increase in support for gay marriage, according to PEW research center (Support for Same-Sex Marriages Grow, 2017) on one of their studies on gay marriage support shows that there has been an almost 21% increase in support from people who are both white evangelized protestants and are from either generation x and millennial or the silent generation and the baby boomers (Support for Same-Sex Marriage Grows, 2018). We also see these ideals at work when it comes to women and the ongoing movement to close the wage gap and get equal opportunities as men. This movement has been going on for some time in fact the Equal Pay Act was passed in 1964, this act states that it is unlawful to discriminate based off of a person’s race, religion, color or sex.
Despite this act being so old most women believe it is not being enforced, we have seen numerous studies showing that women get paid less than men, another statistic from PEW research center is that in 2017 women from ages 25 to 35 earn about 89 cents per a man’s dollar (Gender Pay Gap Has Narrowed, 2018). We also see opportunity playing a role in equal opportunity employers where employers must meet a certain diversity quota. These American ideals have helped the people realize what they truly want, whether it be the separation of powers or equal opportunities the ideals have been there for it all. So how much more can these ideals change? Bureaucracy is another of many things affected by the ideals set by the American citizens early in the creation of our country. A bureaucracy is, according to Merriam-Webster, of two definitions; a body of nonelective government officials, an administrative policy-making group, and: government characterized by specialization of functions, adhere to fixed rules, and a hierarchy of authority. These specialized offices could be anything from the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) to the DRL (Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor), each has its own topic of focus and can create regulations that apply to all who wish to do something through their bureau. They are equal in the rules they set, everyone signs the same forms the same amount of times to do the same procedure, it’s equality in its most frustrating form.
The goals of the organizations are set for the benefit of the people who use these bureaus, where there is opportunity for bureaucracies to make the citizens life safer the bureaus will take it and create regulations to enforce the new found safety (The Bureaucracy, 2018). America and the five values find their way into a lot of scenarios including the bureaucracy. In summary American ideals have and will continue to change the way America thinks and runs. Democracy, rights, liberty, opportunity and equality all have and continue to change the way America governs their people, all the ideals construct a steady and reliable government the people feel they can partake in. Democracy will keep the people happy, their voices will be heard, and majority will rule. Rights of the people will continue to be protected and fought for just as they have been in the past. Liberty will still be upheld, and we will see people who aren’t able to have liberty in their countries and be reminded of what we did to get our freedom.
We will have opportunity to be born poor and rise above to become a CEO or president, America is full of opportunities for people to advance themselves. And equality, discrimination is slowly escaping the minds of the people, there will be no racism or homophobia and there will be no discrimination against certain sexes for certain jobs. Due to these ideals America’s government will be affected, the three branches will be split and they will rule with equal power over one another so no one branch gets too powerful or corrupt. Furthermore, these ideals will make sure the state and federal governments power are balanced in a way the people see fit. These ideals will continue to change and affect the workings of the three branches and the bureaucracy. The people will see the ideals help determine outcomes in court and decisions in law making, more agencies and departments will come about in the bureaucracy to protect and observe specific areas of concern within the government. American ideals change a great number of things in our government and they will continue to be represented throughout America’s existence.