The Department of Government
The Department of Government

Lisa Miller: "What’s the Matter with ‘Our’ Federalism? Collective Action, Competition and Constraint in American Politics"

Mon, March 18, 2013 | BAT 5.108

4:00 PM

This essay articulates a theory of American federalism in practice – termed ‘federalization’ – and argues that this understanding reveals important and overlooked dimensions of American politics. In particular, the theory illustrates how federalization structures the basic building blocks of democratic politics in ways that privilege elite interests and undermine principles of popular sovereignty. This occurs by: de-mobilizing the citizenry through decreasing, rather than increasing, participatory opportunities; limiting, rather than expanding, opportunities for political competition over policy ideas; and generating constraints on national power that promote congressional quiescence on issues of central importance to the polity.

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