Over the last many weeks, we have reviewed what federalism is, why and how the framers came up with the idea, and how things have changed since then. This week, we move into Part 4 of 4: the pros and cons of federalism in relation to other ways of arranging governments. If you want to go back to read the earlier material, or get everything in one gulp, you can click here.
In the next few weeks, we will review the advantages and disadvantages of federalism with regard to your opportunities to make yourself heard, the nature of political competition, the ability to problem-solve in innovative ways, and the prospects for accountability, trust, equality, tyranny, and polarization.
Let’s start with your voice. A clear advantage of federalism is that the many layers of government provide citizens with many venues to make themselves heard. For example, in 2017, there were 50 state governments, 3,031 county governments, 19,495 municipalities, 16,253 townships, 38,542 special districts, and 12,754 school districts for a total of 90,126 governments and approximately 520,000 elected officials.
 From the U.S. Census Bureau, Census of Governments, and Table 3.1 in Lawless, J. (2012). Becoming a candidate: Political ambition and the decision to run for office, Cambridge University Press.