Is there a Fault in Federalism?

Adi Sircar
3 min readAug 20, 2021


The greatest gift of governance to the world is Florida, and the abstraction of the Florida Man. Florida Man is proof that James Madison & company got it right over 200 years ago when founding our republic. Yesterday, Florida Man was arrested after illegally harvesting more than 30 spiny lobsters. Today, Florida Man was arrested after trying to steal a Snickers bar at knifepoint. Anything could happen tomorrow. Who is Florida Man? What does Florida Man mean? Why does Florida Man keep getting arrested?

Florida Man arrested for 34th time.

Federalism is all about dividing power between the state and federal level. Some powers are restricted to the central government, meaning Florida unfortunately cannot declare war against the Philippines. Other powers are shared between central and state governments, like establishing courts where Florida Man can stand trial for his crimes. Everything else is reserved to the states, protected by the 10th Amendment of the Constitution:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Federalism makes it possible for states to develop their own culture and legislate without sacrificing common defense and the Blessings of Liberty.

I love that states can choose how to govern themselves. States can test out innovative laws without affecting the rest of the country and take better care of their citizens than politicians working in a capital one thousand miles away from their constituents. By decentralizing power, we reduce corruption. States have the freedom to create their own solutions to problems and it’s fascinating to observe how differently Florida takes care of business from New York.

But should some problems have a unified solution? How do we solve the coronavirus syndemic? Is it by having everyone wear N95 masks, avoid social gatherings, and receive vaccines until we run through the greek and sanskrit alphabet of virus variants? If so, is that something we can legislate and enforce? How does federalism help or hurt our goal of returning to normality?

I’ve noticed that the countries with the best reported Covid-19 responses all have unitary systems of government. The central authority in these systems are much more powerful and are incredibly agile —they can rapidly write and pass legislation without much discourse or delay. They have a streamlined legislative body that can swiftly impose travel bans, mask mandates, and vaccination requirements. But when the central government gets too powerful, they track your movements, barricade your home, and beat you with sticks if you step out for a stroll.

The framers of the Constitution established the federal system to keep you from getting tracked, trapped, and beaten by a tyrannical government; but would a trying out a unitary system today lead to an oppressive regime? There are plenty of unitary liberal democracies in the world but I don’t think the American people will allow a central authority to infringe on their God-given, constitutionally protected rights. If we want a strong central government, we may need to give up the freedoms our honorable countrymen fought so hard to protect. There are challenges to federalism, but far more virtues, and so I stand by the Florida Man through his lobster harvesting, snicker stealing, and whatever else he chooses to do in our constitutional federal republic.

Cheers to making it this far! I’m not an expert on constitutional law (neither am I from Florida) - I just enjoy reading and thinking about it and i’m inspired by the conflict and compromise that went into writing the Constitution. Let me know what you think! Is federalism out of fashion? Should we try something else? And what will Florida Man be arrested for tomorrow? You should check out my website - I think I’m going to write about bugs next, so stay tuned!