A Quick Federalism Lesson

Closeup of a mountain bike wheel. The wheel is flat and has studs

Federalism Explained through The Parable of the Bicycle –

by Stuart MacPhail  April 2019

In a March 5 ALEC publication, Utah State Rep. Ken Ivory reported on an occasion he had to explain the federalism feature of American governance.  He was talking with a man who had his mountain bike with him… a man who (like most Americans) had no idea what federalism is.

Ken asked the man how important was it to keep his bike tires at the recommended pressures.  When the man acknowledged the critical importance that the two tires have balanced pressure, Ken shared with him how American’s system was designed with two governing spheres – national and state – like the two tires on his bike.  The two spheres need to be balanced.

“The ‘tire pressure’ in the national sphere was designed to be ‘limited and few’ and the ‘tire pressure’ for the states was designed to be ‘numerous and indefinite’.” he told the man.  “However, today the front tire is so bloated it is about to explode and the back tire is so flat it is about to chew the rubber right off the rim.”

Ken reports that the man stepped back, clapped his hands, and cried out “That’s it!  I’ve learned more about our government in the last 3 minutes than I have known all my life!  Everyone in the nation needs to know this!”  Read Ken’s full report HERE.

Rep. Ivory is the chairman of the ALEC Center to Restore Balance of Government.  He recently wrote another piece wherein he asserts “Nearly 80 percent of the American people across the political spectrum are frustrated with the lack of efficiency, effectiveness and accountability in government at the national level.”  He says “Americans are looking to their state leaders – they trust their state leaders – to restore the efficiency, effectiveness and accountability of government. This is federalism.”  Read this second piece HERE.

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