Advantages and Disadvantages of Federalism
Federalism is a system where final decisions are dispersed among local governments representing specific and sometimes overlapping geographical areas. These governmental units have, as constituents, people of different social, political, moral and economic persuasions.
Together with the idea of locally elected officials, self government, and diversity of interests, the federal system can be susceptible to manipulation by narrow local interests and legislation diluted by compromise at the expense of national or regional interests. On the other hand the strength of the federal system lies in its ability to provide access to governmental decision making by those affected. It provides power to all levels of government, requires political flexibility and protects individual liberty.
As James Madison argues in the Federalist papers: the smaller the unit of government, the easier it would be for a single interest to dominate it. But these units in a large republic would be so many that they would actually provide more opportunities for relevant issues to be recognized and heard.
The system of federal government has, therefore, resulted in a disparity in equality and participation. Citizens are treated differently depending on where they live and the dominating sentiments. Criteria for welfare, legal sanctions, spending programs are quite different among the states and sometimes even among counties. Thus, it was not wholly irrational that blacks were treated differently in the south than in the north, even after emancipation. But these differences are a result of participation in the decision-making process, albeit for conflicting and opposite results.
On the up side, there is a competition of sorts among the states in the area of public policy, a market place of social experimentation. Some states are far ahead than others in changing social policy to serve the needs of it...