Federalist and Anti-Federalist

After independence, the United States needed to create a political system and a government that meets the goals and ideals for which the Americans fought during the war. The articles of the Confederation adopted soon after separation did not meet all the demands of the existing society and did not solve the growing problems. Then, representatives from all states came together in Philadelphia to amend the constitution.

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However, everything turned out to be much more complicated. At the convention, two groups of people with different ideas about the reorganization of the state stood out: federalists (supported Constitution and stronger national republic) and their opponents, antifederalists (opposed Constitution in favor small of small localized government).

The Federalist was led by Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, James Madison, John Adams. The Federalists were businessmen, large merchants, defended the idea of a strong federal government and believed that it was necessary to create a more perfect union by improving the relationship among states. They had a clear plan for building a political system. The most famous Federalist is the second president of the United States, John Adams. He defended the financial independence of the federal government but did not agree with the economic program of Alexander Hamilton, which laid the debts of all states accumulated during the war on the federal center. To repay the emerging national debt, Hamilton proposed the creation of a national bank.

The Anti-Federalists defended the idea of the Bill of Rights, because the Constitution would not be able to sufficiently protect the rights of individuals and the states, also they defended minimal intervention by the federal government in state affairs. Unlike the Federalists, they did not have a developed plan for organizing a new government. Among them were most farmers and small traders, not the prominent business owners. Anti-Federalist Patrick Henry is known for his many speeches about the freedom and dangers of creating a national government. Anti-Federalists opposed an authoritarian national government, fearing that it might take away their rights, including the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. They believed a republican government was only possible on the state level and would not work on the national level.

Constitution plus Bill of Rights was accepted by all states. Despite the fact that Federalists strongly supported strong government, they still wanted to have all those rights that were listed in the Bill of Rights.

Main differences between Federalists and Anti-Federalists:

-Federalists: few representatives; strong central government and weaker state government; mostly property owners (rich); believed the educated should make the decisions: the common man can’t be trusted to make a smart choice; in favor of Constitution.

– Anti- Federalists: more representatives; weak central government and stronger state governments; mostly small farmers, shopkeepers, laborers; believed in democracy and giving all people (educated or not) a voice; against Constitution.

State governments are often inept or corrupt, and rarely help their people. The argument that political ties will affect the relationship of each national branch of government as to each other can be extended to state governments, and actually is more of a problem there as state governments are often controlled by a single elite social majority, where as the federal government represents several groups of social elites vying for power like mad dogs. It is much more difficult to transform government into a personally beneficial corrupt corporation when you have competition. Consider, for example, how comparatively mild the incidence of criminality in federal government is comparatively to state government; in one, spying on your enemies or having sex in your office ruins your career, where as in the other, it likely begins it. Also, when it comes to spending, state governments are often much worse than the federal government. I have seen multiple instances of states where the government spends millions on equipment it allowed to sit in a warehouse and rot. At least the federal government uses its $500 wrenches.

2. Without a strong national government, the individual states will often make decisions that are non-uniform as to other states, making collective efforts troublesome as the value systems of the states grow apart. This creates a burden on trade. Imagine if you had to have a different color car to drive in each state because of visibility requirements. Are you going to buy 48 cars or paint your vehicle 48 times to travel through the states? No. So your range becomes limited just by that. (The paint example is, of course, just an example … for comparative cases see tinted windows and vehicle weight restrictions.) Additionally, imagine if coughing in public was a crime in one state, while having sex before marriage was punishable by death in another. Without a strong national government, ridiculous laws like these would probably get by, as the checks against rational relationships to legitimate public purposes that prevent such laws were handed down by the Supreme Court. Heck, without a national judiciary, sodomy would probably still be illegal (which means no sex other than in the missionary position, period, sexual orientation be damned).

3. National elections are far more advertised than state elections, which tends to result in better popular representation. Sure, you’ve voted for the president a few times … how many times have you voted for your county commissioners? Municipal officers? Local judges? Probably rarely, if ever, unless such issues come up during a national vote. The sheer broadness of the appeal of the national election process convinces voters to weigh in on the future of their nation. By comparison, very few states provide such coverage of local elections (though a few states, such as California and Texas, certainly do).

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