Would it be more accurate to refer to the government in Washington D.C. as the national government rather than the federal government? Seems like “federal government” should refer to the state and national governments together. Or would calling it the “national government” suggest that it has more authority than it has?
I believe, based on the US Con. Classes, that a National government is a government that controls the entire government of the country, whilst a Federal Gov. is a government that controls only the federal government of the country
A government can be national while delegating considerable authority to local officials. Such is the government of France since the Revolution. In general, the issues are where ultimate authority lies and how much is in the center. In a federal system, the center has only the delegated powers.
Proponents of the Constitution swore that they were not crafting a “national government.” The best term to use, and the one they preferred, was the “general” government. The current construction of the Constitution does not resemble a federal system at all, but it is not a national government either. We have through precedence morphed into a unitary system with the central authority directing the State and local governments in many cases.
I’m hesitant to call the government centered in D.C. the “federal” government because doesn’t that ignore the role that state governments have in our federal system?
I didn’t think the term “national” government would mean that it has total control over the whole nation, just that it does have some powers that are exercised throughout the nation.
I thought “federal” described the national government and state governments each exercising their delegated and reserved powers, respectively, over the same territory.
I agree totally with eljarrodo’s post above. I recently posted on Facebook that indeed we do need to go back to the Founders’ terminology of “national” or “general” government when referring to the behemoth that exists in D.C.
You’re not going to find Jefferson, Madison, Randolph, et al., calling the Federal Government “national.” They typically called it the “general” government.
This matter is discussed extensively in the lectures. Again: a federal government was created by the parts with certain powers in the center (as in Switzerland, The Netherlands, Australia, or–in theory–the USA), while a national government has component parts for the convenience of the center–as in France since the Revolution.