Disadvantages and Advantages of Federalism

  • Created by: Isabella
  • Created on: 21-05-14 20:47

Disadvantages and Advantages of Federalism


  • Fosters state loyalties: Many Americans feel a sense of loyalty to their state, and federalism maintains this by giving power to the states.
  • Pragmatism. In a country the size of the United States, with a diverse population, it makes sense for local officials to have the power to do the job. State and local officials are closer to the problems in the area, therefore it makes sense for them to solve the problem.
  • Good testing ground. States can test policies, and other governments and the federal government can learn from their successes and failures
  • Creates politcal stability. By removing the national government from some policy areas, federalism allowed the early US government to have stability.
  • Encourages pluralism. Federal systems expand greatly on the roles of national, state and local governments, allowing there to be more opportunities for people to get involved with their governments and leaders.
  • Ensures separation of powers & prevents tyranny of the majority. If there is group in charge at the national level, federalism ensures the state governments are independent from this. This allows for the system that the Founding Fathers wanted; which has ensures liberty.


  • Prevents the creation of a single national policy. the United States has 51 different state policies, which can often led to confusion when states have different stances on issues. For example, same sex marriage may be legal in Maryland, but it is not in Indiana
  • Leads to a lack of accountability. Due to an overlap caused by federalism, it is hard to know who to blame for failed policies (eg state/local/federal?). For example, many did not know who to blame the failure of Hurricane Katrina response on.
  • Expensive. The federal government is very expensive, because people are elected not only on a national level, but also on a state level, often more then necessary.
  • Masks inequalities. The federalist system is able to hide the racial and economic inequalities within and between states.
  • Causes conflict. The federal- state is yet to be defined and continues to be a source of conflict. This especially came to a head in during the Civil Rights era, where Southern states were discriminating against minorities and claimed intereference if the federal government got involved.


Although federalism does have some drawbacks, it is overall beneficial to the United States. There are not many other systems which could caterer for the needs of the United States.


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