Among the many thoughtful details that the founders bequeathed to the rest of us is the purposeful naming of our nation; The United States of America. A single moniker like “America” would have neglected the composure of independence and cooperative defiance necessary to earn the crucial signatures on the Declaration and, soon afterward, the Articles of Confederation wherein the new country’s name was made official.
One of the basic tenets behind the name is captured plainly in the Tenth Amendment with these words, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
The advantages of distributed power among the confederation includes competition between the states. This includes maintaining favorable conditions to attract industry. Without the threat of losing employers to neighboring states, local taxes would be much higher nationwide.
Of course, the algebraic formula of people > state > federal is reversed by the liberal agenda. Oppressing liberty is more effectively realized by a central authority.
The Tenth Amendment was the topic of the most useful candidate forums that I have ever seen, hosted by Mike Huckabee on December 3. One at a time, each Republican presidential hopeful took the stage alone to field questions from the attorneys general of Oklahoma, Florida and Virginia. I was deeply impressed by the knowledge and appreciation for the Tenth Amendment by every candidate. The video of this debate would be a tremendous tool for any government class.
Here are some highlights of the philosophies shared by the candidates, in order of their appearance:
On the subject of judicial activism, Speaker Gingrich would not only take action to impeach such judges, he would also enact “The Jeffersonian solution from the Judicial Reform Act of 1802,” abolishing entire appellate courts when the problem is systemic. Regarding the overreach of the EPA, “I wrote a book with Terry Maple called Contract with the Earth. It was an effort to argue that there are sound, pro-market science and technology innovations that would lead to a better environment -- actually a more improved environment -- than you get out of lawyers and regulators and the EPA.” And, generally, Gingrich asserted that, “States should be experimenting with what works best.”
“One of the reasons I’m a strong supporter of the balanced budget amendment, with a cap on the federal government at 18% of GDP, is because it will guarantee limited government and guarantee states and people being more free.”
In response to a question about whether there should be a national right-to-work law to prevent actions such as the recent National Labor Relations Board attempt to prevent Boeing from building a plant in right-to-work South Carolina, Governor Perry responded, “States compete against each other. ... States that say, ... ‘We don’t want to be a right-to-work state.’ Well, places like Texas or places like Florida or Virginia or Oklahoma, they are going to be more competitive with their tax policy and with their regulatory policy and with their legal policy. That’s how you make America more competitive. Get the federal government out of making one size fits all. Even if it’s for things that we think that we would like, there may be some states out there that say, we don’t want that. And then people can vote with their feet.”
Regarding poor decisions by the US Supreme Court, Representative Bachmann said, “The all-time worst was the Dred-Scott Decision. But, I think that, in the last 50 years, ... the Kelo Decision. ... It was a government entity taking away the private property interests from one individual because it would benefit government in the form of revenue and then giving that private property to another. That’s a terrible decision.”
“I look at Article I, Section 8. Where does it say anything that the government should be involved in education or medicine?” Congressman Paul also spoke of the moral principle behind law with the comment, “If you can’t steal from your neighbor, you can’t send a politician to steal from your neighbor.”
“The EPA and those extreme voices in the environmental community and in the President’s own party are just frustrated beyond belief that the states have the regulatory authority over fracking. And, right now, I would guess something like 70% of the oil wells in this country have been fracked. The states have been managing this, managing it well. But the EPA wants to get in and grab more power and basically try to move the whole economy away from oil, gas, coal, nuclear and push it into the renewables. Look, we all like the renewables. But renewables alone are not going to power this economy. And, among other things, I would get the EPA out of its effort to manage carbon dioxide emissions from automobiles and trucks. Look, that was not a pollutant within the meeting of the legislation that authorized the EPA. Of all the agencies in Washington, it is the one most being used by this president to try and hold down, crush, and insert the federal government into the life of the private sector.”
The founders of the United States of America established that authority begins with the God-given rights of the citizen. With the citizen’s consent, government is given authority at the most local level possible. Sometimes we go so far as to empower the federal government. The cornerstone of the Tenth Amendment is being jackhammered by Democratic Party leadership and their agents as an obstacle to their audacious aspirations.