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Public Administration

The federal government of the United States of America was structured to protect the rights and liberties of its citizens. The founding fathers, through the Philadelphia Convention, decided to divide the powers of the government between state and federal government. Foreign affairs, control of the military and fiscal policy making were under the jurisdiction of the federal government. Domestic policies or policies which pertain to the administration of member states were assigned to state government.

The reason behind this structure of government is clear: to prevent creating a strong national government, capable of abusing its derived authority. By derived, we mean powers acquired by “consent of the people” (although one may say that all powers of government are derived from the will of the people). Another safeguard that the framers imputed to the US Constitution is the Bill of Rights. Essentially, the Bill of Rights enumerates all the rights and freedoms of each citizen. The state may not impinge on these rights without due process of law.

Correspondingly, the Bill of Rights then defines what, how, and when the government can act in particular to the rights and freedoms of its citizens. In other words, it limits governmental action – a precaution

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against tyranny. As Alexander Hamilton and Benjamin Franklin noted, the federal system of the United States is the most unique and efficient mode of governance. The state is able to function properly even if two sets of governments are in place. Hence, there is no need to revise or amend the fundamentals of the US Constitution. IB. The House of Senate was instituted to give member states equal representation in the legislature.

Equal representation ensures that no state can dominate or control policy making at the cost of the nation’s future. This was a positive response of the founding fathers to the fear of the “tyranny of the majority” (Tocqueville). In the United States, the president is elected by the electoral college. Each state has a particular number of electoral votes (representative of the population). This system of electing a president ensures state legitimacy, that is, the president was chosen based on the will of the people residing on particular states. This mode of electing a president is never inferior to that of popular election.

The US Supreme Court can void legislations that are in direct confrontation with the constitution (unconstitutional). This power was based on two principles: 1) the principle of checks and balances, and 2) principle of legal guardianship. To illustrate the first principle, let us discuss this scenario. If the president becomes too strong, the only measure of Congress is its power to control government finances. If Congress becomes too powerful, the remedy of the president is the military. The confrontation of the two groups will lead to a constitutional crisis. Something is missing in the picture.

An institution capable of voiding both the actions of the Congress and the president (when discretionary abuse and violation of the Constitution is eminent) is needed, yet limited in itself by the actions of the other two groups. To illustrate the second principle, let us ponder on this scenario. If the president and the Congress disagree on a particular policy, then a mediating party is a necessity. However, the US Supreme Court is beyond a mediating body. It serves as the final arbiter of law; that is, it is the only body capable of interpreting the Constitution authoritatively.

In this way, the Constitution is safeguarded from false interpretations. IIA. Sovereignty is basically the supreme right to make laws. It has four components: 1) people, 2) territory, 3) state, and 4) government. Sovereignty is absolute. No nation can claim sovereignty if an external power is influencing law making. Many social scientists noted that the constraints imposed to the US Congress by the Constitution are sufficient for effective governance. Allowing state governments to experiment on public policy may lead to conflicting multiplicities.

Essentially, this will lead to inefficiency and waste of government budget. Essentially, Madison distrusted political parties because of its inclinations towards the “tyranny of the majority. ” A dominant political party (by virtue of their number) can easily impose their interests on the state. Later however, he modified some of his political beliefs. The War of 1812 forced Madison to rewrite his political beliefs. Instead of promoting the supremacy of state rights, he urged for the strengthening of the national government to counter external threats. There are times when political equality threatens liberty.

The need to equalize power is itself a threat to the right of the power to elect representatives with legal constraints (except time limits). Dahl argued that campaign finance reform would equalize voice in democracy. According to him, by giving individuals or groups of individuals funds to launch electoral campaigns, political equality is attained (this would raise the political awareness of citizens). This is a good proposition. There is however one problem with his suggestion. How does the state determine valid candidates or political parties (will this lead to efficiency in governance)?

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