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date: 30 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Federalism has influenced American political development deeply because it has been used as a powerful, enduring weapon in battles over politics and policy. The Constitution authorized the national government to exercise the tools of national sovereignty, but authorized the states to govern most of everyday life. This constitutional arrangement has encouraged interstate competition and market-driven economic growth, while it has impeded policies aimed at mitigating economic hardship and inequality. Federalism encouraged fragmented political parties and a pluralistic interest group system, splintering both organized business and trade unions and thus many political conflicts. State policy initiation has left domestic policy profoundly fragmented and unequal. Decentralized power allowed states to implement separate and inferior citizenship rights for different categories of citizens, most prominently, racial minorities and women. In turn, state laws and their legacy frequently shape national efforts to mitigate these inequalities.

Keywords: federalism, U.S. Constitution, grants-in-aid, political parties, trade unions, corporations, public policy, race, gender

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