Реферат: American Federalism in 1990s

AmericanFederalism in 1990s.

Whileit would be an overstatement to suggest that the average American has a clearconcept of meaning of federalism in 1994, there is some evidence than issues,involving locus of governmental power are important to many. For example,polling organizations frequently ask citizens — which level of government mostenjoys their trust and confidence. The results consistently indicate, thatpeople trust their local governments most and their national government least.The states drift along in the middle. So, most Americans  view local government the most favorably.

          However,as is the case in most areas of our political life, attitudes changesignificantly when citizens are faced with specific issues. Even thoughAmericans  appear to be committed tofederalism in the abstract, they always seem to have lengthy list of problemswhich they want the federal government because state and local governments havefailed to resolve them, or a list of services which are perceived as poorlyprovided or not provided at all. It is common for individuals and groups torespond to such perceptions by demanding that the national government createnew standards or mandates  or providedirect or indirect expenditures of money. Sometimes, they seek both.

          Whileit is traditional to expect demands for increased national government activityfrom more liberal, so-called «big government», elements in American society,conservatives, who see themselves as a defenders of state’s rights and localself-government also may jump on the bandwagon and demand national action.  Thus it is quite unsurprising  that recently liberal elements in Americansociety have sought national legislation controlling access to firearms, asreflected in recently-adopted Brady Bill, which requires dealers to run checkson purchasers. On the other hand, it seems unusual, from a federalismperspective, that conservative elements have sought national government actionto eliminate or restrict access to abortions or to permit the introduction ofprayers in the public schools.

          Perhapsthe best recent example of such a demand for national action may be found inpublic safety area. There is a general perception, that high levels of criminalactivity made the persons and property of the average citizen in this countryunsafe. In general, however, the definition and control of criminal behaviorhas historically been a state and local responsibility. Our national officialssense that there is a demand for them to do something in response to state andlocal failures. The result is anti-crime legislation at the national levelwhich has been proposed by the President and which is largely supported bymembers of Congress. While many of us doubt the effectiveness of the specificlegislation, few people have seriously objected to this activity as destructiveof basic fabric of our federal system.

          Theresult is an inconsistent and often confusing approach to solving governmentalproblems in a federalist concept.  Interms of practical politics, the system provides multiple forms of access.Various groups, no matter what ideological view of the federal  system, take a pragmatic approach. That is,when their preferred level of government fails to produce policy results, thatare satisfactory, they seek action at another level. None of the models ofthe  federal systems seems to describethis state of affairs very well.

          Thereis also confusion about federalism at another level in the US. We often observethis best when trying to teach about the system in our American Governmentclasses. For some, federalism is equated with democracy. This is to say that they believe that unitary systemsare by definition undemocratic. These patriotic souls are skeptical ofevidence  which demonstrates that someunitary systems are quite democratic, and that some federal systems are quiteautocratic in nature.

          Still,others confuse federalism with the concepts of separation of powers andchecks  and balances which are soimportant in understanding American government. While federalism does indeeddivide governmental powers and involve some checking and balancing, separationof powers is a term, normally reserved to discussions of the relations betweenthe executive, legislative, and judicial branches of our governments. Thisdistinction is troublesome for many of our students.

          Dueto my limited time I would like to state some most nuisance problems, thatbecame a heavy burden for every American, involved in active politics in anyway.  First, we should  mention the so-called «unfunded mandate»,that became the biggest bone of contention in American intergovernmental rules.An unfunded mandate can be said to exist when the national government requiresnew or improved services or level of regulation, but leaves funding largely tostate and local governments. This permits national level officials andinstitutions to establish their own policy without any considering costs. Whilethat seems a poor way to operate, it fits in well with some traditionalAmerican political attitudes in which costs of government services are eitherignored or assumed to be borne by someone else.

          Someexamples may illustrate the reasons for state complaints. In 1993, the Congresspassed a law requiring the states to provide a system of voter’s registration whichwas

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