An Anti-Federalist America

Following the end of the American Revolution in 1783, in which the fledgling country ousted the British, the new United States were not so united when faced with how to structure their new government. This question soon fell into hot debate with two camps arguing for their vision of the country’s future: the Federalists and Anti-Federalists. On one hand the Federalists called for the formation of a strong centralized and national government with the ratification of a constitution to help manage the budding country’s needs. While on the other hand the Anti-Federalists, wary that a large federal government might sap power from the states and therefore destroying what they had fought for, opposed the constitution preferring that the power to govern stay with the states. While both sides brought excellent arguments to the table it is seen that the Federalists ultimately “won” the debate with the ratification of the Constitution in 1788. But what if the Anti-Federalists had won the debate, what would the United States look like today?




Imagine for a minute that you’re back in the time of the Federalists and Antifederalists. They are still arguing over the best way that the country could and should be run. Which side are you on? Now take a moment and imagine that this time history has changed and the anti-federalists won the debate. Their ideas were the considered to be the best and that is the way they decided to set up our country. What does America look like?  America is not the America we know. There is no FDA or any other type of Federal programs at all. Some states didn’t make it, they were too small and couldn’t budget correctly so they were merged with other states. America looks a lot like Europe; extremely divided but all squashed together, each varying from the other and having to merge and constantly change the way they handle the state affairs. Programs like welfare are a state to state basis and it is a bit chaotic because the laws change from state to state. Which state has the best programs? Are all of these places overcrowded because of the difference in laws? Does this over-crowding cause the state’s resources to be drained too quickly? See, in this anti-federalist world the States hold all of the power. Fearful as they were of big government, the anti-federalists made sure that was no big government. Anti-federalists believed that a central government couldn’t possibly support itself because how could a select few represent such a large and diverse population? Where was the intimacy of elected official and common person? They believed that state governments would be better because it is a smaller population, there wouldn’t be a chaotic confused and disjointed system that needed a constant peacekeeper army waiting quietly to take care of the angry citizen clashes that were surely a result of big government. Right?

In the end, it is a good thing that the Federalists won the debate. We have had to learn how to fix the holes and other issues of a centralized government but we were able to find the middle ground of both sides. The centralized government handles federal issues of foreign policy, welfare, budget and much more while the states handle local laws and policy well enough to sustain its population. While the state’s law may differ from the federal laws, they are, for the most part, cohesive governing entities. We have proved that, with checks and balances, a central government can work. It can be a representative governing body without chaotic outbreaks of violence. We have learned that checks and balances keep our government from turning too big, tyrannical and into a dictatorship or back into a monarchy like the antifederalists feared.

If you would like to know more on Federalists and Anti-Federalists click here. I found this site to be extremely informative and interesting expansion on our readings from class.

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5 Responses to An Anti-Federalist America

  1. nicmccaleb says:

    I really like your post. One thing you discussed that grabbed my attention was when you talked about how “we have had to learn how to fix the holes and other issues of a centralized government but we were able to find the middle ground of both sides.” In my opinion, the relationship between influence of individual versus the power of the government is way out of balance. Many citizens living in the United States today are so disconnected from American politics for the simple reason that they do not believe they have any actual influence. I agree with this point and blame the sheer size of our country for causing it. I am not sure what could fix this issue but have thoughts regarding the potential for individual state law (such as the marijuana laws in colorado) to help increase the voice of the individual.

  2. jfavila says:

    Very good post! I completely agree that it is a good thing the Federalists won the debate. You make a lot of good points about how chaotic the United States would be without the centralized government. Imagine if the supreme court hadn’t been around to strike down some provisions in the SB1070 law. I feel the federal government is very much necessary. However, the Anti-Federalists contributed the Bill of Rights which has also proved useful in our government. Although I do agree it was best the Federalists won if the Anti-Federalists weren’t around to argue in the first place we wouldn’t have the Bill of Rights.

    • ztacner says:

      Don’t you feel a lack of identity? A lack of representation, you may not have agreed with all of the choices, rules, and laws Arizona has created but don’t you think if we as a community were more active in our own politics it would have turned out better? I feel like the anti-federalists had a stronger argument and now we are all under the massive cloud that is The United States Government, lacking of our own identity or ideals, stuck to reinforce what “big brother” believes is best for us. Rather than everyone server under one large leader I believe if we had a politically educated population who actively participates in the politics of our own affairs, issues, and needs, that the anti-federalist view of small personal state-wide government would have been a much better solution than the faceless giant we rally behind today.

  3. ricquelln says:

    I really like this post! I stand in the grey area of agreeing with some specs of the anti- feds and the feds, so it is really interesting to think how things would be today if the anti won. It is really hard to even think about because the anti did not really have a plan, all they ever would say is that their ideas are better than the feds, but never really showed their plan. I do agree that we do have a lack of privacy, but is that due to our government being nosey or for the protection of citizens from terrorists?

  4. christiesm says:

    I really enjoyed your post. I really liked the way you imagined how the United States would be if the anti-federalists had won the discussion and took control of America. I totally agree with you that America would definitely not be the way it is today. America wouldn’t be one large state, but small states with huge differences between them. America today, with a huge central government, we can observe many differences between states and discussions between people with different backgrounds fighting for the things they believe, imagined if we didn’t have a central government though. Despite of that, I can’t say that America is better having a central government for people or if it would better if the state were divided.

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