The Federalist Papers

When individuals combine efforts to form a central government, they give up some of their personal liberties and freedom in order to gain protection against acts of transgression and selfishness enacted by others. Therefore, a government establishes the extent as to which individual self-centered actions can be carried out while ensuring the overall safety of individuals and the society at large. An energetic, powerful central government has the capacity to perform this. For instance, the United States Constitution commands a strong and unified defense base which has the capacity to protect individual property rights as well as rebuff any foreign or internal revolts. Unlike a state government, a unified central government is more powerful since it channels resources availed by all the states in responding to a crisis. This was aptly depicted by the Shays’ rebellion whereby the Massachusetts state government was not strong enough to suppress the government’s takeover by people who used force and violence rather than the consent of the people. The central government had to quell the uprising by channeling personnel and resources availed by 13 states. Therefore, this essay analyzes the need for an energetic central government so as to ensure protection of individual human rights.

The Federalist papers provide sufficient reason for an energetic central government. Contrary to the view held by anti-federalists, a more energetic central government aids in the protection of individual liberties. A closer examination of the Articles of Confederation proves that the government was too segmented and uncoordinated to ensure a coordinated response to cases whereby individual rights and liberties were breached. There was no means through which unity among states could be enforced. Therefore, states were in direct competition for resources such as land in addition to competing in commerce and public debt repayment. Over time, this would have ultimately led to a failure in the provision of a common defense. Competition would demand that individual states stock up arms and increase personnel so as to actively counter aggressions from neighboring states as well as foreign invasions. This would only lead to unnecessary wars and the suppression of civil liberties otherwise safeguarded in the Articles of Confederation.

Secondly, the central government safeguards individual rights by the fact that a popular democratically elected government is in place. By spreading the advantages associated with a popular government without doing away with the compactness associated with state governments, which are allowed to retain most of their functionalities and sovereignty, factions are less likely to occur since representation is well spread over the masses. The people easily identify with their state governments. In addition, unified state governments can easily overpower the central governments. Hence, if the people are not satisfied with the policies formulated by the central government, they can easily use their local governments to launch their case.

Thirdly, an energetic central government creates a common front for negotiations with other nations for trade and commerce. For instance, European nations have to negotiate with the United States government on all platforms. Uniform trade regulations are enforced by a single authority. A single state, however, would not efficiently and effectively negotiate to its best advantage since it would have a lesser variety of goods and services, hence a poor bargaining front. Therefore, the common wealth of the nation increases, which greatly reduces the need for heavy taxes on individual properties.  

In addition, a central government establishes checks and balances that are easily enforced through legislation. In order to maintain a strong army, pay for civil service and provide other benefits, there is a need to levy direct taxes so as to meet these costs. In case the central government is too powerful and misuses this power, appropriate legislation passed by the representatives of the people questions the government’s right to levy such taxes. This ensures that the government has enough funds and does not misuse the powers granted by the people for individual purposes. The United States Constitution provides for the majority while protecting the rights of the minority. Initially only 9 of the 13 states were required to ratify a bill for legislation. By placing these powers in the hands of the majority, avenues for misuse and misappropriation are effectively eliminated. 

Furthermore, the constitution places power into the hands of the people and not the states. So as to ratify any major changes in the constitution, a referendum should be held.  This ensures that the American people can identify with the document which creates a sense of national pride.  The central government enjoys powers delegated by the public through the Congress and checked by the state governments. By enforcing unified regulations that the people support, individual rights and liberties are safeguarded.

Finally, a unified and powerful central government eliminates the competition for power. While state governments focus almost entirely on internal affairs, the federal government largely caters for external affairs effectively. Internal affairs involving states are delegated to the federal government, hence ruling out conflicts while attaining a common solution. The presence of both governments serves as a check and balance system whereby each government checks on usurpations of powers so as to ensure the protection of individual liberties of the American people.  In addition, the federal government is split into three arms, each with the authority to institute checks on the other arms. Therefore, the existence of both the federal and state governments ensures a double check, which is further reinforced by additional checks performed by these arms.

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