Thomas Jefferson believed that the dispersalof power between federal, state, county, and local agencies was crucial toAmerica’s “system of fundamental balances and checks for the government.” However,the Senate is based on equal representation and the House is based onpopulation. How is this an equal way to balance the power in our government?Simple, it’s not. The problem in government today is special interest groups (factions)who constantly lobby our elected officials. Politicians listen to these groupsbecause they are the same people who donate money to campaign funds and otherinterests of politicians.
These are the people who have the power. ThomasJefferson spoke against a strong federal government and instead advocatedstates rights. The Founding Fathers viewed “factions” as dangerous tothe public interest; which is the main problem today in American government.Commentators think that Federalismhas diminished as a result of heavy-handed policies coming from the national governmentin areas ranging from education to the environment. For example, you couldthink about drinking age laws or speed limits, both of which are supposed to bestate issues, yet the federal government appears to have considerable controlover the states on these issues or more recently Attorney General Sessions’attack on states’ right to legalize marijuana that just kicked off a firestormof pushback from politician on both sides of the aisle including fromSenators who opposed the legalization of marijuana in their own states.
Alexander Hamilton howeverdisagreed with Jefferson’s perspective, as he believed in an emphasis on centralizedgovernment. Hamilton’s successful efforts led to the creation of a publiclychartered bank. In Hamilton’s point of view, the creation of the Federal U.
S.Bank was within the authority of Congress, and that it would bring fortheconomic prosperity and development, the circulation of paper money, and allowfor government loans. Despite Thomas Jefferson’s (now George Washington’s firstSecretary of State) efforts to oppose Hamilton’s plan on grounds that thefederal government has no right to enforce an action such as this, Hamilton convincedWashington to pass on this legislation.During his younger years inVirginia, Thomas Jefferson theorized how a government should be organized, andthe importance of the separation between the state, central, and localgovernments. “A Summary View of the Rights of British America” is one if his publicationswhere he addresses the problems of parliament in 1774.
One of Jefferson’s complaints was the mistreatmentof the colonies by British Parliament. Lawssuch as the Stamp Act drove the colonies further from Parliament and angered manyof the patriotic citizens. Jefferson decided it was best to keep the governmentin check with itself, giving the legislative, executive and judicial branchesof government equal power over each other in his book, “Notes on the State ofVirginia.”Thomas Jefferson said: “It isnot by the consolidation or concentration of powers, but by their distribution,that good government is effected.” That is, Jeffersonbelieved Federalism (the geographic distribution of power between thestates and the national government) and the separation of politicalpower within government (Executive, Legislature, and Courts) are centralcomponents of good government. I believe Jefferson would be content with the contemporarydistribution of geographical power, as many of our laws are handled by theindividual state governments, and the federal government gears their focustowards foreign affairs and decisions that affect the nation as a whole.Do you think Jefferson would be happy with the contemporarydistribution of geographical power in the US?