American Federalism Essay, Research Paper
American Federalism Publius, in the Federalist No. 31, argues effectively against any limits upon the federal government save for, “…a regard to the public good and to the sense of the people.” In fact, Publius is so opposed to the idea of limiting the power and authority of the federal government, that he and Malcom X would have agreed splendidly on the catch phrase, “…by any means necessary….” Publius’ argument that, “…the means ought to be proportioned to the end…” sums and simplifies the entire argument at hand. To what extent should governmental power be unlimited? To an extent equal to the task it is asked to accomplish. If one were to seek justice, the government should be able to provide laws, judges and consequences. If one were to seek assistance, the government should be able to provide help, comfort or relief. And should one ask for protection, the government must possess the ability to attack, defend and preserve life. In short, it is as necessary to provide the government with the means to accomplish the tasks it is assigned- as it is to provide grain to a farmer that is expected to grow wheat. Therefor, the logical limit to governmental power should be easily calculated by determining the uppermost limit of what might be required to perform the most serious task it is charged with. Arguably, this task could be assumed to be national defense. Given a serious enough threat to national defense, it is foreseeable that a time might come when the government would have to utilize all of the nations’ resources to defend it’s own borders and protect it’s own citizens. In that case, the government would need the right to take land, institute martial law, and even institute a draft. Certainly a government could ask no more of an individual than to give all of his possessions and even his life. No reasonable person would argue that the
citizens of any nation would be better off if the borders were left defenseless with intruders knocking on the door. The question is not whether or not a government requires unlimited powers, but whether or not it is wise to then give unlimited power to it. After all, it would seem reasonable to assume that putting all of your eggs in one basket is dangerous. Publius points out,”I repeat what I have observed in substance in another place that all observations foundedupon the danger of usurpation ought to be referred to the composition and structure of thegovernment not to the nature or extent of its powers.” So if you might one day have tocarry all your eggs at one time, make sure you consider all the possible perils and design abasket capable of surviving them. In continuing this train of thought, a government with unlimited powers has the ability to and runs the risk of abusing its powers. However, Publius’ overriding theme throughout the Federalist Papers has been that the people of America will choose the brightest and most worthy representatives. And that must negate this concern. In Federalist 55 Publius says,”I am unable to conceive that the people of America in their present temper, or under anycircumstances which can speedily happen, will choose, and every second year repeat thechoice of sixty-five or an hundred men, who would be desposed to form and pursue a scheme oftyranny or treachery.” Finally, it all boils down to one simple point: eventually the people must put their trust somewhere. If the government is to be charged with the most serious of tasks, it must be provided with enough power to complete them. Likewise, if the people are really capable of choosing the best and the brightest from among themselves to rule, then who is more trustworthy then those chosen?