Federalism-The New Science Of Politics Essay, Research Paper
When discussing the new science of politics laid out in the Federalist papers, it is imperative to understand that proponents of the Constitution had various reasons for writing these papers, not the least of which was convincing critics that a strong central government that would not oppress but actually protect individual freedoms as well as encouraging the state of New York to agree to ratify the Constitution.
The Federalists had a genuine belief that a strong central government was essential to the protection of what they saw as God given rights and freedoms, as well as protection from abuse from the states concerning these freedoms. The founders embodied three key concepts into the Constitution that would serve as the framework and engine for delivering the ideals of liberalism (the idea of natural rights, liberty, equality, consent of the governed, and the idea of limited government), to the American people under a union of the states: the idea of separation of powers, individual rights, and federalism.
“This inquiry will naturally divide itself into three branches- the objects to be provided for by a federal government, the quantity of power necessary to the accomplishment of those objects, the persons whom that power ought to operate,” writes Alexander Hamilton in the Federalist #23 in reference to the separation of powers. The basic concept here is the idea of the federal government being divided into three separate branches that would balance excessive democracy through a system of checks on each other. The three branches, respectively known as the legislature (Article I), the executive (Article II), and the judiciary (Article III), were designed to entice the opponents of the Constitution to ease the threat of misuse of power by strong central government.
The first ten amendments to the Constitution, also known as the Bill of Rights, was designed to protect individual rights of the people. Articles 1-8 describe the limits on all three branches of government, and articles 9 & 10 describe the limits on the national government. This again was to serve, as further proof of the founder’s intent to limit the possibility of an oppressive central government.
The third concept, federalism, is the relationship of power between the states and federal government. The fundamental argument was where the power would lie between them. The states were always very concerned that the central government would pose a threat to their way of life, particularly the large states in regard to representation in the legislature, which was the most powerful of the three branches.
The text states that, “emphasis on government programs in the early years of democracy revolved around assistance, promotion and encouragement- the allocation of land or capital where they were insufficiently available for economic development”. The results of ratification left the federal government with only a small amount of power which included the sponsorship of supplying the public goods, encouraging the settlement of western land, raising and maintaining a nation army, regulation of tariffs on imported goods, and regulation of currency. Almost no coercion on the part of the national government directly affected the colonists.
Essential to the framework of the Constitution was the idea of dual federalism, which dictated that both the states and the federal government had dual sovereignty under the Constitution. In fact, the states ended up with a considerable amount of power retained after ratification.
The idea of an extended commercial republic was one in which the power and freedoms would be extended to the people under a federal system. The commercial republic was the people under a representative democracy. Under the states before ratification, the people were subject to the will of the states, with no recourse. For example, before Article IV, which describes the full faith & credit and privileges and immunities clauses, the laws varied from state to state with no limits on the ways states chose to determine consequences and rights for the people. The concept of an extended republicanism was to create a “higher” law of the land, which would provide union and consistency between the colonies, as well as encourage a free marketplace of ideas.
The exchanging of ideas in a free system allowed the republic, whom the founders knew were motivated by self interest first, to feel that all who entered the political arena would have a shot at presenting ideas that would become a representation of the national self interest. The framers sought this extended commercial republicanism within the union and the Federalists continued to strongly
support a Constitution of this design that created factions of ideas that would protect the nation from the spector of excessive democracy, as well as abuse of power.
Madison felt that this idea of extended commercial republicanism served as a second safety net to the protection of the rights of individuals. Madison states in the text that, “The power
surrendered by the people are first divided between two distinct and separate governments (federal and state), and then the portion allotted to each subdivided among distinct and separate departments (the legislative,
executive and judicial branches). Hence a double security arises to the rights of the people, The different governments will control each other, at the same time that each will be controlled by itself.”
In the framers view, the protection of individual liberties as well as the expression of self interest were of the highest importance when creating the Constitution and a new system of government. The idea of separation of powers along with checks and balances, coupled with an encouraged environment of expression eventually led to the ratification of the Constitution with a Bill of Rights in 1791 and the birth of dual federalism.
Although today in the twenty -first century we have more of a regulated federalism, the basic concepts of protection of individual rights along with free expression of ideas is still at the core of our current political philosophy. The founders intentions, primarily fueled by the Federalists, sought to create a national system under which the new area of democracy would thrive in the shadow of what they perceived to be an oppressive past with mother England.