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A strongly legalistic and systemic approach entails federalism, which requires formal and informal methods essential for the functioning of an elaborate government structure. The United States is the most extensive and diverse federal system in the world, with 57 state and state-like regional governments; nearly 88,000 discrete and overlying municipal governments; and nearly 88,000 legislative bodies; various judicial systems; thousands of federal, state, local, and administrative agencies, and more than half a million elected official administrative agencies (Stephens and Wikstrom, 2006). On page 32, we read that “all models of the U.S. federal system are inadequate to explain the overall complexity and interaction that takes place in the system” (Stephens and Wikstrom, 2006). Deil Wright made a suggestion known as the “overlapping authority model,” which captures some of the complexity of intergovernmental relations in the U.S. and presents areas of political authority and/or governmental exclusivity for each of the three levels of government (federal, state, local). Power in the overlapping authority model tends to be widely dispersed, making bargaining necessary (Stephens and Wikstrom, 2006).

Models of federalism include the layer-cake, which is also known as dual federalism, which places local government at the bottom and limits authoritarian activity, with state governments serving in the middle, which are superior to local but succumbed to the federal government, thus leaving federal government at the top. There is also marble-cake federalism, also known as co-operative federalism, which mises the functions and relationships between each governmental function. While some have described our system as a “picket fence federalism” arrangement due to the vertical functional flow of influence and the responsibilities from the three levels(Stephens and Wikstrom, 2006). Levels of authority can be listed as separate authority model, centralized or unitary system, and as mentioned previously, the overlapping model. We have seen new federalism with each president, and it hasn’t always brought positive changes to the U.S. The “Iron Triangle” explains the conspiratorial alliance between bureaucracies, legislative committees, and interest groups. The three points collaborate mainly for financial gains and interests. This allows for the overturn of the democratic process by allowing few stakeholders to have an inadequate effect on legislation development affecting all (Stephens and Wikstrom, 2006).

The Obama administration’s main focus points were the Obamacare administration, education, climate change, financial reform, etc. While he used a framework for policy tools, but he abused federal mandating and other policies. Many of the policies that Obama pushed created a feud between state and federal governments. When we look at the issue of Obamacare, many states were not on board with the nationwide mandated healthcare. States pushed for their healthcare coverage agenda, but the Obama administration did not agree, thus creating tension between many states and the federal government. Sadly, in my opinion, there will be no federalism effect due to everything that he accomplished is currently being overturned. Everything that Trump worked hard to achieve in his four years in office is being thrown out the window in a matter of days. While there are instances where we can look at COVID and the nationwide shutdown, many states did not want to open back up once Trump decided it was time to begin opening businesses and returning to work. The actual effects of what is happening now are not being felt at this time, but once the states’ people begin to see these new changes, I fear it will not be suitable for our government.


Stephens, G. R., & Wikstrom, N. (2006). American Intergovernmental Relations: Fragmented Federal Polity. New York: Oxford University Press.