Trend Watch

Graham: Health Care Bill Is 'Federalism'

Searches are up 472% on the same period last year

Federalism trended throughout September 2017, up 472% on the same period in 2016, as the word assumed a position of increased prominence in coverage of the political battle being waged over the fate of the Affordable Care Act.

This is the choice for America, Mr. Graham said on Tuesday: “Socialism or federalism when it comes to your health care.”
Yet some governors, the supposed beneficiaries of that federalism, were decidedly cool to the proposal.
— Robert Pear and Thomas Kaplan, The New York Times, 19 September 2017

We define federalism as “the distribution of power in an organization (such as a government) between a central authority and the constituent units.” This sense is often capitalized. The word has been employed in contentious circumstances since the time of its first use. A pair of our earliest citations, both thought to be from 1787, illustrate the disparate feelings surrounding the word.

Disadvantages of Federalism, Upon the New Plan.
1. The Trade of Boston transferred to Philadelphia, and the Boston Tradesmen starving.
2. The Discouragement of Agriculture, by the loss of Trade.
3. People indolent, dissolute, and vicious, by the loss of Liberty....
— (Broadside) Disadvantages of Federalism (Boston, MA), 1787?

Salutary consequences which will flow from adopting the Federal Constitution. 1. Unity and peace at home. 2. Respect and honour from abroad. 3. The total abolition of paper money….
The Massachusetts Centinel (Boston, MA), 31 Oct. 1787

The term may sound counterintuitive to the modern ear, as it denotes a system in which states maintain individual power within a larger governing body.

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