Federalism Primer

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Imagine you live on a busy street, and you have small children. You want to get a stop sign put up on one of the cross streets near your house to slow people down. You just need to know whom to talk to.

In a country like the United States where federalism has been replaced by Big Government, you probably need to get hold of your U. S. Congressman. If he’s so inclined, he’ll attach an amendment that authorizes the placement of the stop sign to some bill. Several years later, if the bill makes it through Congress and the amendment isn’t stricken by procedure before the final vote, the bill passes and the president signs it. Chances are, you’ll get your sign two years later. Your little kids, 4 and 6 at the time you started the effort, are closing in on high school–or they’ve been hit by a car.

Under federalism, the most important decisions to a family like yours are made by your family or by your local, municipal government. In a federalist system, you’d need to contact your city council member. If your neighbors don’t object, you can get your stop sign in a month or two, while your kids are still young enough and alive enough to benefit from it.

Here’s the difference: in modern America, your opinion is in competition with 300 million other Americans. In federalism, your idea competes with the people who live in your town or state. If you can’t handle your town’s politics, move to the next town; if you can’t live with your country’s politics, move the next country?

I prefer federalism. Don’t you?

Why a piece on Federalism? It’s all over the blogs:

Kicking Over My Traces

Keith D. Milby

Politics Lobby 4

Bill Hennessy 1 and Bill Hennessy 2