chapter  8
Liberal Activism and Intergovernmental Relations
Pages 19

During the prosperous decades of the mid-twentieth century, liberal reformers used Federal power to address discrimination, poverty, illness, educational inequity, pollution, and urban decline. These liberals inherited the intergovernmental activism of the New Deal and sought to build on it to expand rights and broaden opportunity. Liberals in the 1960s changed federalism by adding more Federal rules and grants programs, and by shifting grants to new recipients. Rather than reverse all these liberal efforts, Republican President Richard Nixon used federalism to shift as much control over Federally-funded programs as possible to state and local governments. Both Democrats and Republicans, then, expanded the Federal role, employing federalism as a selective political tool to achieve their larger goals. Liberal policy injected the Federal government into most of the important

policies that state and local governments had previously monopolized: public education, health, criminal justice, and environmental protection. State and local governments were engaged as agents of Federal purpose, and intergovernmental relations fully flowered. This system fragmented the political battlefield of federalism into many smaller conflicts over the state and local use of Federal dollars, and the constituencies that Federal rules and grants would affect.