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What is the significance of how the American federal system decentralizes our politics ?

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msawyer123 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 12, 2011 at 1:05 PM via web

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What is the significance of how the American federal system decentralizes our politics ?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 12, 2011 at 1:20 PM (Answer #1)

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There are a number of significances to this fact.  Among them are:

  • It protects against tyranny.  One reason for the creation of a federal system was to prevent any one part of the government from having too much power.  By decentralizing power, our federal system helps to protect us from having one part of the government become too strong at which point it could tyrannize us.
  • It offers more points of access to government.  Because there are multiple levels of important governmental actors (federal, state, etc), there are more points at which citizens can try to affect what government does.  If power were centralized, there would be fewer points at which citizens and interest groups could hope to talk to governmental leaders and try to influence them.
  • It offers more opportunities for policy innovation.  States have been called the "laboratories of democracy."  With a federal system, we have multiple states that can try different approaches to solving problems.  In a more unitary system, we would not have this advantage.

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