American Federalism: A Concise Introduction / Edition 1

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More About This Textbook


Understanding federalism - the form of political organization that unites separate polities within an overarching political system so that all maintain their political integrity - is central to the study of democratic government in the United States. Yet, many political scientists treat federalism as a set of abstract principles or a maze of budgetary transfers with little connection to real political life. This concise and engaging book boils the discussion down to its essence: federalism is about power, specifically the tug for power among and within the various levels of government. Author Larry N. Gerston examines the historical and philosophical underpinnings of federalism; the various "change events" that have been involved in defining America's unique set of federal principles over time; and the vertical, horizontal, and international dimensions of federalism in the United States today. The result is a book examining the ways in which institutional political power is both diffused and concentrated in the United States.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765616715
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 2/15/2007
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 197
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface     ix
Creating a New Nation     3
The Great Political Experiment     5
Defining Federalism and Organized Power in the "First New Nation"     5
Endless Nuances     8
The Four Characteristics of Federalism     9
Fluidity and Continuity     13
Outcomes of Federalism     14
Follow the Bouncing Ball-The Uncertainties of Federalism     16
Looking Ahead     18
Reordering the Rules on Power and Governance     19
Questioning the Traditional Rules on Power and Governance     19
New Theories and the Old Regime: Sowing Seeds of Change     21
The Articles of Confederation: The First Effort at Self-Governance     24
The Constitutional Convention: The Second Effort at Self-Governance     26
From the Past to the Present     32
Organizing a Federal System of Government     33
The Appeal of Traditioa     35
Tradition: The Conservative Ethic in America     37
To Trust or Not to Trust the People-Conflicting Themes     37
The Constitution: Assigned Powers and Early Interpretations     40
Pitting Liberty against Equality?     46
Tradition, Yes, But What Tradition?     50
Institutional Change Agents: Political Wellsprings     51
The Courts as Change Agents     52
The President as a Change Agent     62
Congress as a Change Agent     66
National Institutions on the March     72
Informal Pressures on the Power Flow     73
Political Parties     74
Interest Groups     78
Bureaucracy: Pushing from the Periphery of Power     83
Public Opinion     87
Informal Pressures: Ambiguous but Real     89
The Dimensions of Modern Federalism     91
Vertical Federalism     93
National/State Relations     94
National/Local Federalism     103
State/Local Relations     106
Federal Grants-in-Aid as a Catalyst for Control     107
National/Private Sector Relations     112
Vertical Federalism in Perspective     116
Horizontal Federalism: Arrangements Among the States     117
State Political Cultures in the Federal Framework     118
Public Opinion and Policy Differences     121
State-to-State Competition     131
Regional Cooperation     136
Horizontal Federalism in the Twenty-first Century     139
The International Dimension of Federalism     141
The Many Faces of Globalization     142
Immigration     147
Security     151
International Dimensions in a Domestic Context     155
Continuity and Change     157
Explaining American Federalism in the Twenty-first Century     159
Problem-Solving in a Defined Political Structure     160
Emerging Themes, New Directions, Unanswered Questions     164
The Future of American Federalism     168
Notes     171
Index     189
About the Author     197
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