Get Involved: Go Online


Mapping Federalism

Inform Yourself

Review the levels of government and their roles. The White House has a valuable website that discusses federalism. In what ways do states share power with the federal and local governments?
Watch the cartoon “Federal Powers vs. State Powers” ( Consider what powers were reserved to the states. How has the federal government restricted these reserved powers over the last 50 years? When has the U.S. Supreme Court upheld laws that have taken power from the states? Do you believe this is constitutional?

Express Yourself

Go to the Patchwork Nation website ( to see hundreds of maps broken down by county, congressional district, and state government. Find the percentage of children who are on foods stamps by county. (Above the map of the United States, click on the “County Map” tab, and then on the “Latest Data” tab. Under “Select a Category,” choose “Food Stamps.” Click on a state to zoom in.) In South Dakota, for example, in some areas almost no children qualify for a free lunch, while in other counties over 80 percent of children qualify. How do state governments make one set of policies for areas as different as these?
The federal government faces similar issues when providing grant money to states. Consider the stimulus money provided for highway repairs. (Follow the directions just given by choosing the “County Map” and “Latest Data” tabs, but click on “Stimulus [via ProPublica].”) If the money is broken down by number of people in the counties (per capita), the region receiving the most federal dollars for highway repairs is the Midwest. These maps offer many examples of how the federal government grants money to the states. What region of the country appears to benefit the most from federal tax dollars? Do populous states benefit more, or do the least-populated states? Looking at the data, do you think the current system is fair, or would you make changes in how money is allocated?
Consider texting or e-mailing your members of Congress your views about how federal government tax dollars should be spent and allocated. You can find your representatives and their contact information by using the tools “Find Your Senators” ( and “Find Your Representative” ( Draft your letter (or e-mail) to the editor of your state/local newspaper expressing your views in the space below.

Submit to Gradebook:

First Name:
Last Name:
Your Email Address:
Your Professor's Email Address: