The pros and cons of federalism have been the subject of debate since the creation of the republic.
Proponents argue that federalism does the following:
- Fosters state loyalties: Many Americans feel close ties to their home state, and federalism maintains that connection by giving power to the states.
- Practices pragmatism: Running a country the size of the United States, with such a diverse population, is much easier to do if power is given to local officials. Likewise, state and local officials are closer to the problems of their areas, so it makes sense for them to choose policies to solve those problems.
- Creates laboratories of democracy: State governments can experiment with policies, and other states (and the federal government) can learn from their successes and failures.
Example: California has frequently led the nation in environmental regulations: Many measures adopted by California are subsequently adopted by other states. And during the 1990s, Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson experimented with welfare policy, and those experiments influenced federal welfare reform.
- Leads to political stability: By removing the national government from some contentious issue areas, federalism allowed the early U.S. government to achieve and maintain stability.
- Encourages pluralism: Federal systems expand government on national, state, and local levels, giving people more access to leaders and opportunities to get involved in their government.
- Ensures the separation of powers and prevents tyranny: Even if one person or group took control of all three branches of the federal government, federalism ensures that state governments would still function independently. Federalism, therefore, fulfills the framers’ vision of a governmental structure that ensures liberty.
Critics argue that federalism falls short in two ways:
- Prevents the creation of a national policy: The United States does not have a single policy on issues; instead, it has fifty-one policies, which often leads to confusion.
- Leads to a lack of accountability: The overlap of the boundaries among national and state governments makes it tricky to assign blame for failed policies.
Democracy is a type of political system that requires a popular vote (representative election) to take place to elect the leader of the country and other officials. Simply put, the leaders are chosen by the people.
Many of the most successful countries in the world, including the US, operate under a democratic form of government. While democracy is noted as one of the most efficient government systems ever, it is, however, not without any downsides. Let us take a look at its advantages and disadvantages.
List of Advantages of Democracy
1. It protects the interest of citizens.
As previously stated, the citizens in a democratic country are given the right to vote on political, social and economical issues, particularly the representatives they want to be in charge of making major decisions, such as the president. This can greatly protect the people from anything they would disagree to occur.
2. It prevents monopoly of authority.
Due to the fact that the government is bound by an election term where parties compete to regain authority, democracy prevents monopoly of the ruling authority. And, the elected ruling party would make sure their policies will work for the people, as they will not be able to remain in power after their term with bad records—they will not be re-elected.
3. It promotes equality.
Generally, democracy is based on the rule of equality, which means that all people are equal as far as the law is concerned. Every person has the right to experience and enjoy equal political, social and economic rights, and the state is not allowed to discriminate him on the standard of sex, class, religion and property.
4. It makes for a responsible and stable administration.
When there are elected and fixed representatives, a more responsible government is formed. Thus, democracy can be efficient, firm and stable. Its administration is ruled and conducted with a sense of dedication, and people under this system discuss matters and problems thoroughly to come up with sensible decisions.
5. It brings a feeling of obligation towards the citizens.
The ruling authorities owe their success to elections by the citizens, so they would feel grateful to and socially responsible for them. This can serve as their motivating factor to work for the citizens, for they have the right of choosing their government.
6. It imparts political education to the people.
One argument in favor of democracy is that it can serve as a training school for citizens—they are driven to take part in state affairs. During elections, political parties propose their programs and policies in support of their candidates through public meetings, demonstrations, television, radio, posters and speeches by their leaders to win public favor. All of these can impart political consciousness among the people.
7. It helps make good citizens.
Democracy aims to create the ideal environment that is conducive to personality improvement, character cultivation and good habits. As per the experts, this political system seems to function as the first school for good citizenship, where individuals can learn about their rights and duties from birth to the time of death.
8. It allows a little chance of revolution.
Since this system is based upon public will, there will be little to no chance of public revolt. Elected representatives conduct state affairs with public support, and if they do not work efficiently or do not meet the public’s expectations, they will probably not do well during the next elections. Democracy or other popular governments often function with consensus, thus the question of revolution would not arise.
9. It promotes change.
This political system can promote changes in the government without having to resort to any form of violence. It tries to make citizens feel great and even provides them with a good sense of participation and involvement.
List of Disadvantages of Democracy
1. It might allow misuse of public funds and time.
Democratic governments can lead to wasted time and resources, considering that it takes a huge amount of time on formulating laws and requires a lot of money to be spent during elections. It is also highly possible that the country will be ruled by incompetent and irresponsible leaders who will just spend public funds for their own tours and recreation.
2. It instigates corruption.
Those who are elected to power might resort to unethical means for personal interests and engage in corrupt practices. During their tenure in office, they might take advantage of authority for personal gains, putting the interests of the masses at the backseat.
3. It risks the wrong choice of public servants.
Truth be told, not all individuals under a democratic government are aware of the political and social circumstances in their country. In a voting system, majority wins, and there is no distinction between the votes cast by the literate and the illiterate. People may favor a candidate based on other factors other than pure and required capability. Taking these things into consideration, the elected official may not always be the perfect person for the seat, leading to erroneous decisions.
4. It allows not exercising the right to vote.
Sadly, in some democratic countries, people fail to exercise their right to vote. Perhaps, they are reluctant to do it or are just less aware about the impact of their votes. Or, perhaps they do not see it as a privilege and take the process less seriously.
5. It may put more emphasis on quantity, rather than quality.
Another disadvantage of democracy is in terms of providing services—it tends to put more emphasis on quantity, rather than quality. Also, considering that the system might be governed by irresponsible and incompetent leaders, equality might be in question for only the rich and famous might be prioritized more than the poor.
6. It can take long to make decisions.
Because it takes long to make decisions, it will also take long to implement them. Unlike in a monarchy where one person is making decisions that are implemented quickly, democracy requires majority voting in implementation, thus it is relatively less prompt in taking actions.
7. It may involve immoral practices during elections.
To lure the masses, election campaigns might involve immoral practices, where candidates would use muscle power to draw the majority of votes, even trying to tarnish their opponents’ reputation. Money and power may be abused to influence the people to disregard opposing parties.
It is important to take note that political systems have their own downsides, and people have different views about them. But by weighing their advantages and disadvantages, which in this case is democracy, you can come up with a well-informed understanding if it is best for the people or not.