Though Americans rarely appreciate it, federalism has profoundly shaped their nation’s past, present, and future. Federalism—the division of government authority between the national government and the states—affects the prosperity, security, and daily life of every American. In this nuanced and comprehensive overview, David Brian Robertson shows that past choices shape present circumstances, and that a deep understanding of American government, public policy, political processes, and society requires an understanding of the key steps in federalism’s evolution in American history.
The most spectacular political conflicts in American history have been fought on the battlefield of federalism, including states’ rights to leave the union, government power to regulate business, and responses to the problems of race, poverty, pollution, abortion, and gay rights. Federalism helped fragment American politics, encourage innovation, foster the American market economy, and place hurdles in the way of efforts to mitigate the consequences of economic change. Federalism helped construct the path of American political development. Federalism and the Making of America is a sorely needed text that treats the politics of federalism systematically and accessibly, making it indispensible to all students and scholars of American politics.
1. Introduction Part I: Bringing American Federalism to Life 2. Federalism at the Founding 3. Federalism, Political Parties, and Interests Part II: Enduring Fault Lines of American Politics 4. Federalism and Race 5. Federalism, Capitalism, and Economic Growth Part III: The Construction of Active Government 6. Progressive Reform 7. The New Deal 8. Liberal Activism and Intergovernmental Relations 9. Federalism and Conservative Governance after 1980 10. American Federalism in the Twenty-first Century