Constitution Handbook 245
How Are People’s Views
Represented in Government?
The Framers of the Constitution wanted the people to
have a voice in government. Yet the Framers also feared
that public opinion might stand in the way of sound
decision making. To solve this problem, they looked to
republicanism as a model of government.
anism is based on this belief: The people exer-
cise their power by voting for their political representatives.
According to the Framers, these lawmakers played the key
role in making a republican government work. Article 4,
Section 4, of the Constitution also calls for every state to
have a “republican form of government.” Civic
Republicanism is the idea that citizens stay informed
about politics and participate in the process.
In a republican government, voting
citizens make their voices heard at the
polls. The power of the ballot prompts
candidates to listen to people’s concerns.
How Is Power Shared?
The Framers wanted the states and the nation
to become partners in governing. To build
cooperation, the Framers turned to federalism.
ederalism is a system of government in which
power is divided between a central government
and smaller political units, such as states. In the
early years of the United States, federalism was
closely related to dual sovereignty, the idea that the
powers of the federal government and the states
were clearly deﬁned, and each had exclusive power
over their own spheres with little overlap. This
view of federalism led to states’ rights conﬂicts,
which were contributing factors in the Civil War.
The Framers used federalism to structure
the Constitution. The Constitution assigns
certain powers to the national government.
These are delegated powers.Powers kept by the
states are reserved powers.Powers shared or
exercised by national and state governments
are known as concurrent powers.
The overlapping spheres of power
bind the American people together.