In chapter 8 of The Thirteen American Arguments, Howard Fineman discusses the tensions between local and national authority. (a) List three issues that Fineman deals with directly in the book and briefly describe how each of those issues creates tension between local and national authority. One of the more recent issues fashioning local v. national authority is Hurricane Katrina. The government’s response to the natural disaster was poor, and locals claimed the federal government did not do enough.
The people wanted more help. Like Finman said, “It was the national government’s duty to build and maintain the dams, locks, and levees…”. Slavery caused severe tension between the states and federal government. Knowing that they would lose hope for creating a constitution if slavery was abolished, the founders in Philadelphia postponed the date of ban for 20 more years, and until then, slaves could be imported. This ban eventually led to the Civil War.
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The attacks on the Trade Center in 1993 raised questions about the national authority’s ability to protect its citizens within the states. It was claimed that local police forces did a much better job than the FBI at the Trade Center site reacting to the attack. This is an example of how states might have some role of local civil protection. (b) Choose three more issues not listed in the book that also demonstrate this tension between local and national authority and briefly describe them; Immigration is a prominent local v. ational issue in today’s society. Border states like Arizona and Texas are getting a lot of illegal immigrants crossing over their borders. Those states desire assistance from the federal government to stop the immigration, but the federal government might not want to stop the immigration or put the resources into it. Other states are saying let us deal with it, but the federal government does not want the states to handle it by themselves. Gay marriage is another popular topic of debate.
Some states want to make their own decisions on whether gay marriage is legal and may not want the federal government to get involved. Due to the failing economy, the federal government printed new money and granted it to individual states. The money is for states to spend on projects that will put people to work. Some governors of some states do not believe the government should be printing money to create jobs, therefore, some governors did not accept the stimulus money. c) Choose one of the issues you listed in (b) and describe a reasonable solution that honors the principle of federalism while providing equal justice to all Americans under the law. The solution to border control could be that the individual states abide by the federal government’s laws regarding illegal immigrants and protecting the borders. In return, the federal government should help the states enforce the laws if the states do not have the resources (i. e. police, border control agents, guns) to enforce the laws.