The Excellence of Federalism In The United States Constitution

Editor’s note: This essay by Los Alamos School student Isabella McTeigue took first place in a Constitution Day competition hosted by the Los Alamos Federation of Republican Women and was read Saturday evening at the RPLA Constitution Day event where McTeigue was awarded a $300 check.

Los Alamos High School

The first three words of the United States Constitution, “We the people,” are the foundation of the concept of people holding power about decisions that affect them. The United States Constitution establishes a balance of power between the state governments and the national government in a governing system known as Federalism. To ensure order and liberty, the Framers of the U.S. Constitution sought these goals: to avoid tyranny by applying the separation of powers, to encourage participation in politics by implementing a representative voting system, and to provide states the right to pass laws through a system of legislation. 

In order to avoid tyranny from a centralized government, Framers of the U.S. Constitution established the separation of powers. The young United States recalled that King George III had punished the 13 colonies, ultimately by dissolving them. The U.S. Constitution establishes under Article 1, Sections 1-3, that power be divided across three branches of government: Legislative, Executive, and Judicial. This balance of power is being challenged today through overuse of Executive Orders yet the Legislative and Judicial branches provide a check on those actions, thereby, avoiding oppressive governmental power. 

The U.S. Constitution ensures that the people participate in meaningful political decisions. One of the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation, which preceded the Constitution, was that each state, regardless of its size, had only one vote in Congress. Article 2, Section 1, of the Constitution establishes a system of electors, that we refer to as the Electoral College. Each state is represented by two Senators and a number of Representatives based on the population in the State. In U.S. history, five presidential elections have resulted in a candidate winning the election by the Electoral College yet not by the popular vote. Currently, the Legislature is considering changes to the Electoral College because some voters think the system is undemocratic. Our voting system, however, promotes that people in states with low populations participate in elections and are not overrun by states with large populations. The Electoral College encourages participation from the diversity of voters in each of the states. 

To provide for states to pass their own laws, the U.S. Constitution applies the separation of powers so that the national government and state governments share governing responsibility. Alexander Hamilton acknowledged that the United States of America was a “diverse country” through ideology, landscape, and beliefs. The early colonies experienced the rejection of their proposed legislation by the Crown, therefore their local needs were unmet. The Tenth Amendment of the Constitution sets forth that powers not specifically delegated to the national government are “reserved for the States.” The specific powers that the U.S. Constitution delegates to the national government include military, mail, and money. State powers include to provide education, create local governments, and conduct elections. In the past year, Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, and Oklahoma passed election interference laws, to deter voter fraud and make the voting process more secure for the citizens. The U.S. Constitution promotes the powers of the states in order to ensure our liberty. State participation is promoted by requiring ¾ of the states to ratify Amendments to the Constitution. The 26th Amendment upholds that citizens 18 and older “shall not be denied the right to vote,” which I shall exercise in the general election. 

The system of federalism as set forth in the Constitution has succeeded in avoiding tyranny, encouraging participation in politics, and allowing states to pass laws. The U.S. Constitution was created to protect the rights of the people. This ingenious document demonstrates excellence in providing structure to the government and balancing order with liberty. The authority of the Constitution must be restored in our Country as we reflect on how it has provided us, the American people, with liberty through the excellent system we know as Federalism.