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Federalist VS Anti-Federalist?  
User currently offlinefuturepilot16 From United States of America, joined Mar 2007, 2035 posts, RR: 0
Posted (3 years 9 months 3 weeks 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 5471 times:

So, I had to write a Poli-Sci paper where the base question was "which theory of gov't better protects individual liberty, Federalist, or Anti-Federalist"? This question is based off the debates between federalists and Anti-federalists during the birth of our constitution. Anyway....I made the argument that federalism better protects individual liberty. I know this is hard to believe since federalists originally advocated for big gov't and Anti-feds were concerned about the gov't having too much power.

The reason I made this argument was based on two things.

1) The Bicameral Legislature.
-It created the house and the senate, under the context of the "double security of federalism", that is, the bicameral legislature provides a series of checks and balances that reduce power in the gov't

2) The Bill of Rights.
-Originally an Anti-Federalist idea, created a laundry list of ideas that represent individual liberty. Some federalists felt that the bill of rights would regulate freedom to those only in the bill of rights, however, the elasticity of the constitution made this argument invalid.

I also made the argument that had it not been for federalists, making the federal gov't the way it is, that the states would have had too much power. In looking at certain examples, specifically that of civil rights, certain states would still, possibly to this day, be segregated, something that is unconstitutional under the 14th amendment. There are also numerous other examples where the federal gov't had to step in order ensure equal rights under the law. Some might argue that this currently happening in Arizona and their immigration law.

So, what do you think my grade will be?

Also, what do you consider yourself, Federalist or Anti-Federalist?


"The brave don't live forever, but the cautious don't live at all."
7 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineMir From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 21530 posts, RR: 55
Reply 1, posted (3 years 9 months 3 weeks 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 5450 times:

Quoting futurepilot16 (Thread starter):
The reason I made this argument was based on two things.

Neither of these seem to support your position, though, at least the way you've worded them. The bill of rights originally being an anti-federalist idea doesn't explain why federalism better protects individual liberty. And the creation of a bicameral legislature doesn't have a whole lot to do with federalism or anti-federalism - you have to go into what powers are given to that legislature to get to that issue. The reason the legislature is bicameral is to be fair to large and small states alike. You could still have a unicameral legislature that was more federalist or more anti-federalist based on the powers granted to it in the Constitution - ultimately, that says a lot more about a legislature than how many houses it has. So I think you miss the main point with that one.

Quoting futurepilot16 (Thread starter):
I also made the argument that had it not been for federalists, making the federal gov't the way it is, that the states would have had too much power. In looking at certain examples, specifically that of civil rights, certain states would still, possibly to this day, be segregated, something that is unconstitutional under the 14th amendment. There are also numerous other examples where the federal gov't had to step in order ensure equal rights under the law. Some might argue that this currently happening in Arizona and their immigration law.

This argument is a whole heck of a lot better, and the SB1070 reference is something that your professor will probably want to see (making a connection to present issues).

And unless the instructions specifically forbid it, I wouldn't be afraid to put some stuff in about other countries and their governmental powers. The US has traditionally been far more anti-federalist than other countries (even now, when people decry larger government, the constitution still restricts its powers a great deal). Take a look at Germany and their federal structure, and try and compare it to the US. Do Germans have more individual liberty than Americans, and why or why not? You might argue that neither system is optimal, and that there is a middle ground somewhere. Stuff like that.

-Mir



7 billion, one nation, imagination...it's a beautiful day
User currently offlineDreadnought From United States of America, joined Feb 2008, 8795 posts, RR: 24
Reply 2, posted (3 years 9 months 3 weeks 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 5432 times:

Interesting topic for a paper - I just hope that your teacher is fair to both opinions.

Quoting futurepilot16 (Thread starter):
I made the argument that federalism better protects individual liberty. I know this is hard to believe since federalists originally advocated for big gov't and Anti-feds were concerned about the gov't having too much power.

It's an uphill argument - not saying impossible, but uphill. How does increased government rights protect individual rights?

Quoting futurepilot16 (Thread starter):
1) The Bicameral Legislature.
-It created the house and the senate, under the context of the "double security of federalism", that is, the bicameral legislature provides a series of checks and balances that reduce power in the gov't

That was the original intent, but has been short-circuited by the 17th amendment that eliminated the States' voice in appointing Senators. Now both chambers are just a popularity contest, and there is NO voice in Congress representing the State governments, who can say, "Wait a second, that is not our job", or "Our state government can do a better job at that than the federal government". Unemployment benefits, for instance is something that would be much better managed on a more local level.

Quoting futurepilot16 (Thread starter):
-Originally an Anti-Federalist idea, created a laundry list of ideas that represent individual liberty. Some federalists felt that the bill of rights would regulate freedom to those only in the bill of rights, however, the elasticity of the constitution made this argument invalid.

Elasticity worked in other ways also, and not so well. Consider that the U.S. Supreme Court has often stated that every word in our Constitution holds equal weight. Therefore, when one reads the words "All legislative Powers" granted to the federal government "shall be vested in a Congress," a couple very inconvenient questions quickly come to mind: How is it that over one hundred federal agencies are also allowed to make law? And, how can the President and Supreme Court make legally binding law --- they call those laws rules, regulations, and executive orders?

James Madison, the Father of teh Constitution, clarified the authority of the federal government in Federalist Papers #45:

Quote:
"The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State."

If the federal government's powers are "few and defined," how, then, can the federal government make laws on subjects that are not defined by the Constitution? Madison continued:

Quote:
"The operations of the federal government will be most extensive and important in times of war and danger; those of the State governments, in times of peace and security. As the former periods will probably bear a small proportion to the latter, the State governments will here enjoy another advantage over the federal government. The more adequate, indeed, the federal powers may be rendered to the national defense, the less frequent will be those scenes of danger which might favor their ascendancy over the governments of the particular States."
Quoting futurepilot16 (Thread starter):
I also made the argument that had it not been for federalists, making the federal gov't the way it is, that the states would have had too much power. In looking at certain examples, specifically that of civil rights, certain states would still, possibly to this day, be segregated, something that is unconstitutional under the 14th amendment.

That is a poor example, as the 14th Amendment was, well, an Amendment - a properly formulated addition to the responsibilities of the federal government to protect the rights of minorities. Even under a strict constitutionalist government, such amendments must be adhered to.

If a subject is important enough and the morality is clear enough, then there should not be a problem in passing an amendment.

As you are studying the Constitution, what do you think of the fact that over the past several decades, which have seen a huge increase in the power and scope of the federal government, there have been virtually no significant constitutional amendments to support these increases?



Veni Vidi Castratavi Illegitimos
User currently offlinefr8mech From United States of America, joined Sep 2005, 5370 posts, RR: 14
Reply 3, posted (3 years 9 months 3 weeks 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 5429 times:

After you recieve your grade, would you mind posting the paper. I'd be interested in reading it. I'm just now starting to re-read the Federalist Papers and will follow them with the Anti-Federalist papers (which I have not read). I'm just waiting for my birthday (a mere 16 days) for my Kindle.


When seconds count...the police are minutes away.
User currently offlinePPVRA From Brazil, joined Nov 2004, 8944 posts, RR: 40
Reply 4, posted (3 years 9 months 3 weeks 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 5405 times:

There are many examples in US history of the Federal government doing a terrible job of protecting individual rights. Under the Articles of Confederation, I don't think the US government would have amassed nearly such a bad track record, largely because its power was so restricted. Basically, if it ain't there, it can't infringe your rights. That's not to say states had wonderful governments, though.

Quoting futurepilot16 (Thread starter):
I also made the argument that had it not been for federalists, making the federal gov't the way it is, that the states would have had too much power. In looking at certain examples, specifically that of civil rights, certain states would still, possibly to this day, be segregated, something that is unconstitutional under the 14th amendment. There are also numerous other examples where the federal gov't had to step in order ensure equal rights under the law. Some might argue that this currently happening in Arizona and their immigration law.

See you could say, well states watch over cities so that they don't become too powerful. Then you have a federal government, to watch over the states, so that they don't become too powerful. But who watches over the Federal government? Some people would like the UN (starts getting into "world government" territory). But the who watches over the UN? This can go on and on and on.

Now consider that every time you add a new level of government, it becomes more distant from the very people it is supposed to represent. Instead of having thousands or a few million fellow voters, you are now talking tenths or hundreds of millions, perhaps even a billion, by going "federal". Going world-wide adds billions of fellow voters. The impossibility of having a single institution that understands such a multitude of people becomes apparant. In fact, it's impossible to track the US government as is today and any time in the past couple of decades or maybe even longer: the GAO has refused to issue an opinion on the government's financials because it is simply far too large an organization. It has never said "everything looks good, no cooking the books going on". It just says, "sorry, we refuse to even try, it's too much"

Quoting futurepilot16 (Thread starter):
Also, what do you consider yourself, Federalist or Anti-Federalist?

Federalist, but both of them have pros and cons. If you look at Canada they seem to be doing pretty well as a confederacy.

[Edited 2010-10-14 17:38:53]


"If goods do not cross borders, soldiers will" - Frederic Bastiat
User currently offlinefuturepilot16 From United States of America, joined Mar 2007, 2035 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (3 years 9 months 3 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 5385 times:

Quoting Dreadnought (Reply 2):
Interesting topic for a paper - I just hope that your teacher is fair to both opinions.

He is. He pretty much stated that we could choose whatever side we wanted, as long as the argument made sense, and as long as we connected our topic to our discussions in class.

Quoting Dreadnought (Reply 2):


As you are studying the Constitution, what do you think of the fact that over the past several decades, which have seen a huge increase in the power and scope of the federal government, there have been virtually no significant constitutional amendments to support these increases?

Well, I as any other American are worried about the size of federal government. But when you speak of size, in what way are you referencing it to? There are a lot of things i'm concerned about in retrospect to the size of the government, but none more important than the way they've taken this sort of "big-brother" approach against the American people. My professor actually brought up this point, asking us what we think of the American public's general assertion that the government is too powerful, and I told him seriously that I thought politics is now just a big competition, and I sort of compared it to the super bowl in terms of its freakish growth in the last few years.

Quoting fr8mech (Reply 3):
After you recieve your grade, would you mind posting the paper. I'd be interested in reading it. I'm just now starting to re-read the Federalist Papers and will follow them with the Anti-Federalist papers (which I have not read). I'm just waiting for my birthday (a mere 16 days) for my Kindle.

No I wouldn't mind

Quoting Dreadnought (Reply 2):
That is a poor example, as the 14th Amendment was, well, an Amendment - a properly formulated addition to the responsibilities of the federal government to protect the rights of minorities. Even under a strict constitutionalist government, such amendments must be adhered to.

You're right. However, State governments even after the reconstruction amendments, continued to deny fair voting practices to blacks as well as not providing equal protection under the law for blacks. Is it then not the right of the federal government and the supreme court to step in and make sure that the states were following the law under the constitution?



"The brave don't live forever, but the cautious don't live at all."
User currently offlineLTU932 From Germany, joined Jan 2006, 13864 posts, RR: 50
Reply 6, posted (3 years 9 months 3 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 5377 times:

For me, who's a citizen of a country with a federalistic system, it's difficult to say. Things like criminal law should be IMO passed by the federal government and therefore make sure that all states rule under the same law. In Germany, there has been a federalism reform a few years back, where certain things changed in terms of authority. For example, the states now have their own laws with regards to opening hours of commercial stores, while the federal government took over the legislation of e.g. gun control and nuclear energy law.

The federalist vs anti-federalist debate is a can of worms that perhaps you don't want to open, especially in a loose union like the United States. States probably don't want to renounce their own authority over things and keep federal intervention as low as possible. Things like a single federal crime code valid universally in all states with no state specific exceptions would likely be unthinkable.


User currently offlinefuturepilot16 From United States of America, joined Mar 2007, 2035 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (3 years 9 months 3 weeks 14 hours ago) and read 5335 times:

Quoting Mir (Reply 1):
Neither of these seem to support your position, though, at least the way you've worded them. The bill of rights originally being an anti-federalist idea doesn't explain why federalism better protects individual liberty

It doesn't. However it was James Madison, a federalist, who wrote the the bill of rights, so to me, the kudos points go to federalism on that one.



"The brave don't live forever, but the cautious don't live at all."
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