Tuesday, February 5, 2008

“We the people of the United States … “

The Constitution of the country begins with the preamble:

“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for a common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

- and then continues to prescribe a country with a government having only limited powers in order to maximize liberty and freedom of its citizens.

Yet you would not believe that today if you take time to consider all of the things in our lives that are controlled by the federal government, despite the original intention of those writing our Constitution to actually limit the power and authority of the government.

Messrs. James Madison et al had the right idea in their belief that government power would get out of hand and become all encompassing unless expressly restrained. Unfortunately all three branches of the government, including the U.S. Supreme Court, have too often expanded the authority of the federal government well beyond the original intention. This has occurred for several reasons.

Many among us believe that we, the people of the country, are better off if the government is empowered to ‘take care of us’, The motivation of these people may be well intentioned but is nevertheless devastating to our freedom and generally outside the scope of the Constitution.

Another group of people are less well intentioned. They are true power seekers who will do and say anything to get and retain power. Perhaps in times past they were labeled differently but in these times they are primarily leftists and Democrats.

Although it may be that Democrats of decades ago were of a different mind, today most adherents of the Democrat Party, and especially those in leadership roles, clearly seek power for powers’ sake and to inflict their view of the world on the rest of us. For the most part they seek to control our lives through governmental action, of course in accordance with their version of ‘what’s best for us’ because they think we are incapable of deciding that question for ourselves. Most commonly this power is derived by making as many people as possible dependent upon government. In so doing, a large segment of the population becomes ‘disincentivised’ to make any significant effort to help themselves and they become increasingly reliant upon government for their quality of life. It also makes them blindly supportive of those that advocate government assistance to them; hence, they vote to keep these people in power and against those who want them to try to help them help themselves and become more self-reliant. Whether they know it or not (or whether they care or not), the cost of this is great; loss or diminishment of their liberty and freedom. Unfortunately for the rest of us, their cost is also our cost.

If you find it difficult to believe we started our with a limited federal government, consider what the Constitution actually proscribes as the powers of the federal government, all other powers being retained by the states or the people (the 10th Amendment).

Michael Mitchell of Alaska compiled this list from Article I of the U.S. Constitution. These are all the powers that the Congress has.
  1. Borrow money
  2. Regulate commerce among the states
  3. Regulate naturalization
  4. Regulate bankruptcies
  5. Coin money
  6. Fix weights and standards
  7. Punish counterfeiters
  8. Establish post offices
  9. Establish post roads
  10. Record patents
  11. Protect copyrights
  12. Create federal courts
  13. Punish pirates
  14. Declare war
  15. Raise an army
  16. Provide a navy
  17. Call up the militia
  18. Organize the militia
  19. Makes laws for Washington, DC
  20. Make rules for the Army and Navy
And that's it! According to the 10th Amendment, all other powers are “reserved to the States, respectively, or to the people.” The additional power ceded to the federal government has been by fiat by congress itself with the concurrence of the Judicial and Executive branches of government. Simple clauses of the Constitution such as the power to “regulate commerce among the states” have been interpreted so broadly as to enable Congress to regulate portions of our lives well beyond the original intention of our country's founders.

Take a look again at the “enumerated powers” above and consider for yourself in how many ways congress has exceeded the authority granted by the Constitution; how many can you think of? That is the reason it is very important to have federal judges and Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court that will abide by the constitution and not make ‘laws from the bench’ in accordance with their concept of ‘what is good for you’; and the reason we must elect a president who will appoint judges who will take their oath to defend and preserve the constitution seriously (and in these days senators who will “advise and consent” with such appointments).

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