Origins and Consequences of American Multicultural Federalism: Constitutional Patriotism, Territorial Neutrality, and National Polarization

  • John KincaidEmail author
Part of the Federalism and Internal Conflicts book series (FEINCO)


This chapter explores the key counter-example in the study of multinational federalism and explains why the United States became a multicultural federation. It argues that, in deciding not to impose culturally homogenizing policies on a heterogeneous society, the founders opted to foster national unity around the Constitution thus allowing expressions of cultural preferences to differ across constituent territories. Consequently, American multicultural federalism is a ‘double-edged sword.’ On one edge, federal tolerance of territorial and non-territorial expressions of diverse cultural preferences has fostered national unity. On the other edge, some of the most ardent expressions of such preferences, especially those pivoting on racism, have provoked moral approbation that has generated calls for federal intervention that, in turn, have triggered national polarization.


United States Multicultural federation National unity National polarization 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Government and LawLafayette CollegeEastonUSA

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