Federalism in the United States | US government and civics | Khan Academy
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Federalism in the United States | US government and civics | Khan Academy


– [Instructor] What we’re
going to do in this video is talk about the idea of federalism, which is core to the
United States government. Now federalism, the word originates, its root comes from the Latin word foedus, which I’m probably not
pronouncing perfectly, but it’s in reference
to things like a treaty, an agreement, a contract,
a league, or a pact. And federalism you can view as a pact between a national
government and its states. It’s referring to a government
that has various layers where you could have
the national government, often known as the federal government, and then you have the
states, and you’re gonna have multiple states over here,
and then you could have even further layers, and in the
United States you indeed do. You have the local governments, and even within the local
you have city governments, you have county governments. The analogy that’s often made
is originally the federal idea was kind of like a layered cake, so this is my best attempt at
drawing a quick layered cake, where you could view each layer as one of the layers of government. So when I cut open that
cake, maybe right over here this blue layer right over here, it’s blue flavored cake,
maybe it’s an ice cream cake of some kind, that might
be the federal government. Then this yellow, maybe
it’s mango-flavored, that would be the state government. And then you have your
strawberry-flavored local government. That is one view of
federalism, but it turns out in the United States, especially
over the passage of time this has gotten mixed up a little bit. So even though the United
States might have started a little bit closer to something
like this layered cake, today it is more of a marble cake where the different
layers and their powers are more mixed together,
and so this is my attempt to drawing the mixing
of these various powers. And not only do they mix, they overlap. That different layers of
our federal government, some have exclusive powers, which means that’s the
only layer that has them, while some of them, while sometimes there
are concurrent powers, which means these are
powers that multiple layers might actually have. Now to appreciate what these exclusive and concurrent powers are, here’s a Venn diagram
that shows some of them. So on the left-hand side
right over here you have your exclusive federal powers. So in the United States,
only the federal government can coin money. You can’t have money
from Texas or California. Only the federal
government can declare war, which is related to the idea
of conducting foreign affairs, which once again, only the
federal government can do. That’s also related to
raising armies, once again, only the federal government. Rules of naturalization,
who becomes an immigrant, who gets a green card,
who becomes a citizen, all determined by the federal government not by the states. And the federal government regulates not just foreign affairs,
but foreign commerce, trade agreements, and how is trade done. They’re regulating between the states. Now exclusive powers to the
states, they conduct elections. You might say, “Wait, wait, wait. “Hold on a second. “Aren’t there federal elections?” Well it turns out, even for
election for a president, the elections are conducted
by the state government. Remember, we have the electoral college. They want to figure out who should that state’s electors vote for. Establishing local governments;
what are the counties, what are the various
jurisdiction within a state? Similarly, intrastate
commerce, that’s regulated by the state, about the
commerce that happens within the state. And then the Constitution
allows the states to be the main power in ratifying
constitutional amendments. The Senate and House
can propose amendments, but 3/4 of the states
have to vote to ratify constitutional amendments. Now what we see in the
middle of this Venn diagram, these are concurrent powers, which means that they are common to both federal and the state governments. You can have federal taxes
and you can have state taxes. In fact, most of us have both. There are federal laws
and there are state laws. Similarly, there’s
federal law enforcement, you can think of the FBI,
Federal Bureau of Investigation, and of course you have state
police and local police. The chartering of banks, eminent domain, which we might do another
video on in the future, but this is the idea that
a government can view taking land as the interest
of the broader good in order to put down
power lines or a highway and ideally compensate the
people that it takes from if it’s for the greater good. Establishing courts, you
have a federal court system and a state court system,
which we’ll talk more about in future videos. And borrowing money,
they both can issue bonds if they want to have a large project or to finance their deficit. All of these things are concurrent powers. Now this list is not exhaustive
for any one of the three, for the exclusive federal
powers, the concurrent powers, I’ll do this dot, dot, dot here, and the exclusive state powers. And one thing that you will see, even certain exclusive state powers, so for example, education
is for the most part considered an exclusive state
power, but then you might say, “Hold on a second. “Isn’t there a federal
department of education?” I’ll do that over here. And the way this is a good example of how the federal government, even when something might be more of an exclusive state power
where the federal government can still influence it. And they do that through grants. So even though the states
and local governments might run the schools, the
federal government might say, “Hey, if you do X, Y, and
Z, which we want you to do, “then we will give you more
funding for your schools,” and so that might be
motivation for the states to listen to the federal government. So I will leave you there. This is super important to understand if you want to understand
how the United States works, and frankly, most governments
in the world today.

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