Dual vs Cooperative Federalism Compare and Contrast

Federalism, as defined by The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “the distribution of power in an organization (as a government) between a central authority and the constituent units”. A more basic definition of federalism is the sharing of power between the national government and the State government. The Federalist Party is thought to have been started by Alexander Hamilton in an attempt to form a strong central government. Today, there have been two types of federalism, dual and cooperative. Dual Federalism was the first of the two and it lasted about one hundred and fifty years ranging from the 1780’s to the 1930’s.

Cooperative Federalism then began in the 1930’s and lasted until the 1970’s. I feel as if dual federalism was good for its time period but I believe it would cause harm in today’s society. According to Barbour and Wright (2012) the definition of dual federalism is the federal system under which the national and state governments are responsible for separate policy areas. In the textbook, dual federalism is referred to as being a “layer cake”. This analogy is intended to give an idea of the separation of the national and state governments. Each government is its own and “carries out its functions independently” (Barbour & Wright, 2012, p. 12). According to Levi Clancy (2012), there are three key parts that make up dual federalism: I. The government rules only by enumerated powers. II. The national government has a restricted set of constitutional purposes.

Academic anxiety?
Get original paper in 3 hours and nail the task
Get your paper price

124 experts online

III. Each government is independent inside its own domain. The basic idea of dual federalism is that the national and state governments are their own decision makers and are sovereign from each other. Cooperative federalism is the federal system under which the national and state governments share responsibilities for most domestic policy areas (Barbour & Wright, 2012, p. 12). This system is known as “marble cake federalism” because the two governments are swirled together and there is no strict division of the two. This system was adopted in the 1930’s after the economic downfall of the Great Depression. Franklin D. Roosevelt was the originator of this system and believed it would help the country recuperate as a whole. Clancy (2012) states that there are also three key components to cooperative federalism: I. National and state agencies handle governmental tasks together rather than individually. II.

The national and state governments share power. III. Power is not measured in any type of agency or at any level of government. Cooperative federalism was good for its time period and did indeed benefit the country as a whole. A question that can be debated today is should we return to the federalism that was present during the first hundred years of this country? The answer I believe is no. Dual federalism was a great system for its time period, but it would not hold up very well in the present day. An example could be seen in the size of the country.

When dual federalism was in use, the country was smaller and the idea was for the states to be separate from the national government because the US did not want to resemble the government of England. Today, if the states had that much power, it could very easily become a battle for more power and states could potentially try to be their own “country” within a country. This would lead to conflict and possibly the destruction of this nation. I feel as if the sharing of powers between national and state government is the best structure for this country.


Barbour, C., & Wright, G. C. (2012). Keeping the republic: Power and citizenship in american politics, the essentials. (5th ed.). Washington, DC: CQ Press. Charles, M. (2012, January 19). An encyclopedia britannica company merriam-webster. Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/federalism Clancy, L. (2012, September 17). Dual federalism & cooperative federalism. Retrieved from http://studentreader.com/dual-federalism-cooperative-federalism/

This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

Need a custom essay sample written specially to meet your requirements?

Choose skilled expert on your subject and get original paper with free plagiarism report

Order custom paper Without paying upfront

Dual vs Cooperative Federalism Compare and Contrast. (2016, Nov 14). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/dual-vs-cooperative-federalism/