I’m working on a political science multi-part question and need an explanation and answer to help me learn.
1. What is the fundamental understanding of government of the Antifederalists? Do they believe in state sovereignty, where states are empowered to rule the people, or do they believe in popular sovereignty (non-sovereignty), where the government only ever has limited powers delegated to it by the people? In the first case, rulers with authority or knowledge grounded in an absolute (knowledge of God’s will, divine law, laws of nature, etc.) make rules to control (coerce) the governed. This would be right liberalism if this authority is rooted in natural law (that is the balance of competing private interests) and right republicanism if this authority is rooted in the middle class (men whose substantial property makes them independent and virtuous enough to see the public good). In the second case, the people gather in local assemblies or councils and send delegates with limiting instructions to represent local interests at a higher level of government. This would be closer to left republicanism, depending on whether we understand the interests involved as public interests/ a public good or just the balance of private interests. It might be that the Antifederalists could see how opinions are “refined and enlarged” through local civil liberty, but they struggled to see how that might happen within a national politics. One source of evidence on this question is the debate about the absence of a Bill of Rights in the original constitution (The Bill of Rights was proposed by the first Congress under the new Constitution in 1789). Did the Antifederalists want a bill of rights to protect state sovereignty, to protect individuals from the coercive force of the national government (freedom from coercion), or to protect the civil liberties of citizens (freedom to debate political issues)?
2. What is the Antifederalist understanding of the Union? Notice, if they saw the Constitution as fundamentally forming a national government under the authority of the “people of the United States” rather than the states, then the fact that they lost the political battle over the Constitution would suggest that the public endorsed the nationalist perspective. Alternatively, the Antifederalist preference for a confederation of states over a national government could indicate that the original intent of the Founders was a federalism that was closer to state’s rights than the nationalist view.
You could get the textual evidence and different authors from the document I attached below