Nov 19, 2020 in Politics

Politics in states and communities
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Immigration Issues

Numerous questions related to immigration provoke heated local and national discussions. There is no general opinion as to how the US government should respond to both legal and illegal immigration. However, regardless of different attitudes to this issue, it cannot be doubted that it influences both economics and politics of the country.

 

The deviation in the number of immigrants and the countries of their origin explains the diverse effect that immigration has on different states. Despite general opinion, the vast research conducted by Peri and Sparber has revealed that immigrants do not significantly affect employment and wages of US-born citizens (Peri & Sparber, 2009, p. 168). Such a result derives from the fact that immigrants are mostly employed for unskilled jobs, where there is a demand for workers. From the political perspective, the issue of immigration is extremely significant. Immigrants have a strong sense of community, and usually vote in the same way. In result, states with significant immigrant population are starting to experience important political shifts. For instance, this is the case of Texas, where the large Hispanic population is generally pro-democratic (Hoppe & Hacker, 2013).

The national government sees the solution of the immigration problem in the stricter border security measures and, at the same time, in the legalization of 11 million immigrants that live illegally on the USA territory. These steps are foreseen by the new immigration bill, the adaptation of which the President expects in August (Boyer, 2013). This bill will become a landmark for the US immigration policy. However, some states have numerous anti-immigration laws. In Arizona, for instance, police have the right to detain any person who is suspected to stay in the USA illegally.

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Thus, depending on the number of immigrants and their origins, the situation of different states can be significantly influenced. The ongoing changes of US immigration policies are likely to further reshape the demographic of many states.

Centralized Federalism versus New Federalism

Since the adoption of US constitution in 1787, federalism was the only system that regulated the functioning of the country and the division of authority. However, like any other political system, federalism has its advantages and certain disadvantages. Consequently, over the years, the controversies between the advocates and critics of the system resulted in some shifts in its application.

Centralized federalism was introduced during the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965. In his set of programs that got the name the Great Society, the President declared almost all social problems to be of national importance (Dye, 2001, p. 5). Consequently, it was the national government that determined the course of action in almost all the domains of the countrys economy. The state and local governments had no choice but to implement the decisions of the national government, taking into account local peculiarities. Thus, centralized federalism was the closest unitary system that the USA has ever approached, in which state and local authorities have very limited powers.

The strategic, although, gradual shift in the way the power was distributed started in 1980, when centralized federalism was replaced by new federalism. This marked the reverse of the centralization trend and the return of power to the state and local governments. This important change was initiated by the administration of President Richard M. Nixon (Shultz, 2005, p. 161). The Reagan administration supported the system and the process of gradual return to less centralized government, in which the national government determined only key policies.

The USA has always been a country that united many people of different backgrounds and religious beliefs. It is this diversity that constitutes the unique character of America. For a country with a great number of various minorities, new federalism is a more viable system that allows different groups to influence policies and agencies.

Roles of State Governors in State and National Politics

Since the US Constitution establishes federalism as the US government system, the states have important powers and can significantly influence not only local, but also national policies. Consequently, state governors position resembles that of a president. He is the chief executive officer of the state and has executive and legislative functions. However, because of the differences in states legislature, governors functions vary from state to state, but there are some that are common for all the states (Little & Ogle, 2006).

 
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Executive functions of a governor include, first of all, appointment of subordinate officials and administration. The number of appointments is limited by state laws, and they usually require approval. However, it is this function that allows the governor to impose the policies that he or she sees fit. Secondly, the governor drafts and administers the state budget, which again enables the governor to implement the desired policies. Finally, the governor has judicial and military functions. This means that the governor is the final authority in criminal cases and is the head military officer of the State (Grazia, 1957, p. 830-831).

As for legislative power, the two main functions of the governor include obtaining the enactment of legislation and vetoing it. It is the governor who signs the bill after it has been passed by the State assembly (Grazia, 1957, p. 832). Once again, the extent of the governor veto power varies in different states.

On the national level, a governor represents the interests of his state in the national government in Washington DC. The governor can also make agreements on the interstate level, when common problems need to be addressed. In the same way, several governors can join forces in order to lobby some piece of legislation that is beneficial for their states.

All in all, governors play most important roles both on the state and national levels. Such experience gives them competitive edge in the race for becoming candidates in presidential elections.

Race Factor in Elections

The 2008 election of the first Afro-American president in the history of the United States became a landmark for the country. It has shown to other nations as well as to the US citizens that a once acute problem of racial discrimination is no longer a major issue in the American society. However, Obamas victory does not prove that candidates race does not influence the voters final decisions.

In the 2008 presidential election, Louisiana saw the sharpest decline in Democratic Party support among white citizens compared to other states. This was the general trend for white voters in the Deep South states. As for national results, Obama ran 12 percentage points behind Republican John McCain with white voters (Tilove, 2008). It means that despite Obamas appeal, convincing speeches as well as his very positive and wholesome public image, the factor of his race had a distinctive negative influence both on his result in the Southern states and nationwide.

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Presidential election of 2012 showed an even greater shift in the white votes cast in support of Mitt Romney not only in the South, but in other regions as well. As many as 59% of white voters supported the Republican candidate (Wolff, 2012). Certainly, the number of white voters for Obama was higher in the Northern than in the Southern states. However, the state-to-state difference in votes does not change the overall tendency.

It can be argued that the 2012 vote and the decrease in the popularity of the Afro-American President among white voters is explained by some unpopular measures and controversial decisions that marked the first term of Barak Obamas presidency. Although, it may well be partly true, the consistency, which can be traced in both the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, definitely proves that race of political candidates remains a relevant factor in their assessment.

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