The Framers Laid A Groundwork That Has Stood The Test Of Time

Editor’s note: The following is an essay written by Colton Scott for the Federated of Republic Women of Los Alamos in recognition of Constitution Day. Scott was awarded $200 for his essay in the High School division. “Seeking to balance order with liberty, the Founding Fathers chose a federal system of government. Their goal were to avoid tyranny, to allow more participation in politics, and to allow the states to pass their own laws that could test new ideas and programs. Discuss how the system of federalism has been successful in promoting one of the goals. Support your ideas.”

High School Student
Los Alamos

After years of oppressive rule under King George III, the Framers were very concerned about the possibility of tyranny if the national government were too strong. Their solution to this problem was to give the national government just enough power for it to be effective while also giving states enough power to solve local issues. The system they created is known as federalism, a plan to share power between national and state governments. Federalism has achieved the Founder’s goals of preventing tyranny from the national government and securing the rights of states by clearly defining national and state powers, and providing states with the freedom to pass their own laws.

Federalism was used by the Founding Fathers to stop the national government from becoming too powerful. The constitution clearly defines all power given to the national government such as regulating interstate commerce, declaring war, collecting debts and more. The states have powers such as controlling education, implementing welfare, and protecting people from local threats. The 10th Amendment says all power not specified is “reserved” to the individual states. Over the years even though the national government’s power has grown past our Founders’ expectations, the system they laid out has proven it can maintain the balance between giving states freedom and limiting the national government’s power.

Another way federalism achieves the Framer’s goals is by giving states the right to make their own laws. Federalism allows local governments to pass laws for their people based on their state’s specific needs, which is what the Framers envisioned for our country. They wanted the people to control their own laws locally. For example, each state gets to regulate their own education system, so students in New Mexico learn New Mexico history, but students in Texas study Texas history. 

Another example is the state of California passing a law to legalize marijuana, and other states following suit, while still others have decided to keep it illegal, all based on the states’ individual needs. Laws passed by states serve as an experiment before being adopted nationwide. For example in 1912 Massachusetts implemented a minimum wage, and in 1933 the national government implemented one nationwide. This shows federalism working just as intended.

In conclusion, federalism prevents tyranny by making all state and national powers explicit, and it also allows states to meet their people’s individual needs as they pass their own laws. The Framers laid a groundwork that has stood the test of time.