Monthly Archives: August 2010

America’s Sacred Texts

By Jerry McDaniel

After several years spent studying American History and our founding documents, I came to the conclusion that the Founding Fathers left us a perfect plan for governing a free people. Most, if not all the major domestic crises faced by America since its founding could have been avoided had the leaders at the time, followed the precepts of our founding documents. Unfortunately, while the Founders gave us a perfect plan, that plan has never been administered by perfect men. The verdict of history and the Bible is that there are no perfect men, which brings us to the central question. If there are no perfect men, and yet we have a perfect plan of governance, how did we get it?

To appreciate fully the wisdom of the Founder’s plan it is necessary to view it as a single document consisting of three parts. (1) The Declaration of Independence gives the justification for our existence as a separate and independent people and the principles to enable us to govern ourselves successfully. (2) The Constitution presents the plan for governing, embodying those principles, and strengthening the whole while protecting the liberty and independence of all its parts. (3) The Bill of Rights clarifies and amplifies the intent of the Founders for particular elements of the plan.

These three parts of the Founder’s plan, collectively represent the most perfect and complete plan of government ever devised. Since its inception in March,1789 there have been many attempts to improve on the original as our political leaders moved away from its direction and chafed at the restrictions the plan placed on their ambitions. In each attempt to “update” the original, history has shown the effort to be of dubious benefit, with the unintended consequences sometimes far outweighing the intended improvements. For example, there have been seventeen Amendments to the Constitution since the ratification of the Bill of Rights. Most of those have produced marginal benefits with negligible damage to the original plan. Others have been used by revisionists to alter drastically the original plan, to the detriment of the American people and liberty, Amendments 12, 14, 16 and 17, are good examples.

The unity, cohesiveness, and durability of the Founder’s plan is even more remarkable when we consider the diversity of personalities, occupations, education, and interests of the hundreds of people who contributed to its formulation, including the Second Continental Congress, the Philadelphia Convention, and thirteen State Ratifying Conventions. One explanation can be found in the closing paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, “a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence”. This phrase is much more than a rhetorical device to add solemnity to the document. It expresses the heartfelt faith of virtually all the Founding Fathers.

In our desire to view ourselves as a secular society ruled by a secular government, we overlook and often deny the most fundamental attribute of our national character; we are a religious people. According to a 2007 study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, 78.4% of all American Adults identify themselves as Christian. 4.7% identify as being affiliated with other than Christian religions and another 5.8% identify as being religious but not affiliated with any particular religious group. 88.9% of all American Adults consider themselves “religious”.  Admittedly, many of those who identify themselves as Christians are not “practicing” Christians, and many more would not meet the Biblical definition of Christian. However, that does not change the fact that we are a Christian nation and have been since our founding.

That is not to say that all the Founding Fathers would be considered as orthodox Christians by today’s doctrinal standards. It is fashionable in today’s secular America to discount the religious influence on the founding of America by pointing out inconstancies between the views of many of the more prominent Founders and what we might consider to be a proper Christian worldview. In doing so, we deny ourselves some of the most valuable lessons of history. There was a wide variety of beliefs then, just as there is now. The Framers that crafted our founding documents were members of Quaker, Anglican, Baptist, Congregationalist, and other Christian disciplines, and yet, there were certain beliefs they all held in common. Two of the most important religious characteristics of the Founders were their reverence for the Holy Bible and their faith in the Providence of God. They perhaps possessed the highest degree of Bible literacy of any group of political leaders before or since. The political speech of that era is replete with biblical references.

It is popular for historians to point to the writers of the Enlightenment Era such as John Locke or Montesquieu as providing the guiding principles behind our founding documents. The truth is that political writings of the time contain far more references to Biblical sources than to Enlightenment sources. In fact, Professor Daniel Dreisbach, an historian with American University claims there are more references to the book of Deuteronomy alone, found in the political writings of the Founders, than all of the Enlightenment writers combined. The Bible formed such a large part of the Founders thinking that they routinely referenced it in their speeches and correspondence without attribution, assuming that their audience would automatically recognize the reference. A classic example of this can be found in a speech by Benjamin Franklin to the Philadelphia Convention on June 28, 1787.

“…[T]he longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth — that God Governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that “except the Lord build the House they labor in vain that build it.” I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better, than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and bye word down to future ages.”

In this short paragraph, there are at least three distinct biblical references, Psalm, 127, Matthew 10:29, and Genesis 11:8-10. Franklin also refers here, to the Providence of God in the “affairs of men”, as does George Washington in a letter to Brig. General Thomas Nelson in August 1788,

“The Hand of Providence has been so conspicuous in all this, that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more than wicked, that has not gratitude enough to acknowledge his obligations.”

This was written just before the Presidential election of 1788 and after the completion of the Constitution. It is evident that he was referring to the Divine Hand of God in the Revolutionary War and the events following, including the Confederation and the outcome of the Philadelphia Convention. James Madison had the same thoughts in mind when he wrote Federalist 37. In discussing the difficulties of the Convention in reconciling the differing ideas, opinions and interests of so diverse a group, Madison wrote,

“It is impossible for any man of candor to reflect on this circumstance without partaking of the astonishment. It is impossible for the man of pious reflection not to perceive in it a finger of that Almighty hand which has been so frequently and signally extended to our relief in the critical stages of the revolution.”

I agree with Franklin, Washington and Madison in their conclusions that the plan of government set forth in our founding documents bears clear evidence of the providence of God in its creation. Lest I be misunderstood, let me point out that the Divine Providence of our founding is different from the inspiration of Scripture. In inspiration, God deals with individuals directly so that each book of the Bible has a single author. With Providence God works “behind the scenes” so to speak, using multitudes of people and events, often seemingly unrelated, to bring about His will. Providence can only be seen through the lens of hindsight. It is only through observing the formation and progress of our nation in history, that we can appreciate the Providence of God and that we can confidently declare our founding documents to be America’s Sacred Texts.

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It’s Time To Retire Both Political Parties: Part II

The two-party system that has been in place for most of our existence as a nation has not served us well. For over a century, we have been moving inexorably toward the abyss of national socialism under the American pseudonym of “progressivism”. It has made little difference which political party has been in power. Under the Democrat Party, we move faster and under the Republican Party, we move slower, but always in the same direction. Now we find ourselves at the very brink of the abyss.

Most of us have been unaware of the perilous path down which our national leaders have been leading us. The election of Barack Obama and the introduction of one socialist policy after another by him and his progressive Democrat followers has brought the problem into sharp focus. For the first time in their life, millions of Americans are paying attention to the direction we are going and beginning to weigh the consequences. Anger and frustration has become the normal daily state of an ever-growing number of our people. The most frequently asked question is, what can we do to turn things around? How can we stop the seemingly unstoppable rush into socialism?

It is easy to blame, Obama, Reid, Pelosi, Durbin, et al. A little reflection, however, points to another mostly unrecognized culprit. As already pointed out, we have been moving in the same direction for more than a hundred years. There is not an official in government that has been in office for that length of time. Presidents, Senators and Congressmen come and go while the condition continues to worsen. It is not the people in power that causes our problem— although they are certainly culpable and need to be held accountable — the real problem is the system itself. We have allowed ourselves, over the years, to become subjects of the Republican or Democrat Parties.

The last two elections have shown just how tyrannical these parties have become.  Two examples stand out, the nomination of John McCain for President in ‘08, and in Illinois, the nomination of Mark Kirk for Senate in this election. If you need further proof, consider the bills that have been passed and signed during this Congress, against the will of the people. If you need still more proof consider the situation with illegal immigration, particularly in Arizona. Decisions are made by members of the Party establishment and millions of dollars are targeted at the voting public to get them to “rubber stamp” the Party’s decision. All too often it works, albeit often against the best interest of the Country.

We are always going to have political parties and I am not suggesting that we get rid of them. However, the Republican and Democrat Parties have become too powerful, have too much control over government at all levels, and have strayed too far from our founding principles, for us to allow the status quo to continue. Both parties must be stripped of their power for the good of the country and the survival of the Republic. If that suggestion seems too radical for some, consider that the founding documents are devoid of any reference or foundation principle to justify the prominence either Party has in the running of our government today.

The good news is that reforming our political system does not require an Amendment to the Constitution. Primary elections, winner-take-all outcomes, and the nominating processes, are all extra-constitutional and in some cases unconstitutional. Ostensibly, the political customs and traditions developed over the years are for the convenience of the voters. In reality, they are designed to secure the power of the respective political parties. The timing and order of primaries, the gerrymandering of Congressional Districts, the hurdles aspiring candidates are forced to go through and a host of others are all designed to provide job security to incumbents and protect the Party in power.

A relatively small number of major changes could correct our electoral system and bring it in line with the Constitution and intent of the Founders. A similar small number of changes in the way Washington does business would return us closer to the model of government left to us by the Founders.

Electoral Process

The tradition of primary elections has no basis in the Constitution. Primaries are completely and solely for the benefit of political parties for the purpose of deciding on a single candidate for each office to appear on the ballot in the general election. The winner take all policy adhered to by most states is also not required by the Constitution. The Constitution does not require a majority vote for the offices of Representative or Senator. However, the Constitution does not preclude the states from requiring a majority vote for those offices. For those states choosing a majority requirement, a second runoff election could be held among the top vote getters for each office, similar to the process prescribed in Article II for choosing a President and Vice President by Congress when there is no Electoral College majority.

If we followed the spirit and letter of the Constitution and applied the electoral model put forth in the election of a President, to other elective offices, it would simplify the election process and more than likely, result in better representation. While the Constitution allows the states to determine the manner in which electors are chosen or appointed, it also allows Congress to set the time of choosing electors and the day on which they shall vote. Article II, Section 1, clauses 16 and 17 reads,

“The Congress may determine the Time of choosing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.”

Traditionally, the time for choosing Electors is a multi-step process, not sanctioned by the Constitution. Electors are first chosen in the primaries and advance to the party convention. The convention delegates then usually take the candidate with the highest number of Electoral College votes pledged to him or her in the primaries nationwide and declare that person to be their candidate for the general election. This step requires a percentage of the Electoral College candidates to change their pledge from the candidates for whom citizens voted, to the Party‘s ultimate selection. (Note: the name appearing on the primary ballot is the candidate running for office, but the real candidate is the Electoral College candidate pledged to vote for that candidate, not the candidate himself or herself.) This process is not only highly confusing to voters but is constitutionally suspect in its legality, if not downright unconstitutional.

A major factor in choosing Electoral College Candidates is the timing sequence of the various primaries, taking advantage of the “lemming” factor, the popularity of the candidates building on the outcomes of each succeeding primary. The wording of the Constitution clauses quoted above may allow each state to choose their electors on a different day. However, the normal understanding would be that all states should do so on the same day, just as the day on which they actually vote is required to be the same nationwide. The nation would be better served if the primary process were done away with and a general election day determined on which candidates for state, local, and Congressional offices, and Electoral College members were elected. If runoffs are required for various offices, those elections could take place on the same day the Electoral College meets to vote.

Summation: Under this process, a single “election day” would be held nationwide. Candidates for state and local offices would be elected as well as members of Congress and Electoral College members. Party affiliation would not appear on the ballots and would not be a factor in voting. The practice of substituting the names of candidates for President and Vice President for the Electoral College candidates would still be permitted as a service to the voters. Any required runoff elections may or may not be held in conjunction with the day the Electoral College votes.

This reform alone in our election process would remove much of the power from the two major parties and make it much easier for alternative parties to form and be counted.

To be continued in future posts…

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It’s Time To Retire Both Political Parties

The Democratic Party has been in existence since 1825; the Republican Party since 1854. Both have failed the Country miserably.  Perhaps the time has come when we should think about abolishing both parties and establishing a new method for selecting candidates for elective office.

Conventional wisdom among conservatives is that we need to take over the Republican Party and regain control of Congress in the next two elections. That is not something we need do, it is something we absolutely must do if we are to have any hope of changing the direction the country is going.

Assuming though, that we are successful in returning Congress to Republican control in November, and assuming we are also successful in returning the Republican Party to the control of conservatives, then what? Is there any logical reason for continuing to give conservative support to it in the future? Political parties are a lot like service businesses, only with voters instead of customers. The service it provides to the public is finding and publicizing candidates for office. Conservatives have, for generations, given their time and money to the Republican Party with the expectation that its candidates, once in office, would enact legislation designed to protect our liberty and defend our Constitution and way of life. What person, in his or her right mind would continue supporting a business that never delivered the service it had agreed to provide?

Who would patronize an airline that never took them to the destination their ticket called for? Who would continue to employ a security firm to protect their business if thefts kept increasing year after year? That is exactly what we are doing with the Republican Party. Conservatives keep volunteering their time and donating their money, yet they never get what they work for and pay for. We have been conditioned to believe that strong political parties are necessary for the functioning of government. That may be true — but, we need to reexamine that assumption and, at a minimum, rethink what it is that we want our political parties to do for us.

There is no legitimate reason, based on our Constitution and founding documents, for allowing political parties to exercise the amount of power they have today over our government and the choice of leadership we have as citizens. When the Founders were designing our government with its balance of power, they designed it to balance the powers between the different branches of the federal government and between the federal government and the states. They did not and could not have envisioned that the stability of our nation and the security of our liberties would depend on a balance of power between two political parties.

For diagrams depicting the differences between the government established in 1989 and the government existing today see here and here.

The power of political parties has increased concurrently with the decline of federalism in our national government. The founders did not establish the United States as a consolidated “nation state”. The federal government was established by the Declaration of Independence as a federation of nation states, primarily for the purpose of mutual defense and international relations. The nature of the United States is described by Thomas Jefferson in the final paragraph of the Declaration.

“…These united colonies are and, of right ought to be free and independent States;…that as free and independent States, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent States may of right do.”

This is the last occurrence of the word “colonies” in the official documents of the U.S. From that time forward, citizens of the various states considered their state to be their “country”. Whenever the word “country” appears in the personal writings of that era, it almost always refers to an individual state, rarely to the “United States” as a whole. The Declaration declares the states, in their individual capacity, to be free, independent, sovereign nation states, equal to any other nation state such as Spain, Great Britain, Germany, Poland, etc. It does not present them merely as parts of a larger consolidated “nation state”. Later governing documents, based on the Declaration of Independence does not change the fundamental nature of the states described in the Declaration. The essential and fundamental nature of the states in their declaration of independence, and in their successive governing documents is state sovereignty and independence.

Recognizing the shared threats to the individual states posed by other nations, and the common interest of the states in a few other issues, they organized an “umbrella” government for the common defense and certain other matters of common necessity. The Articles of Confederation, ratified by the states in 1781 describes this federation as,

…“A firm league of friendship with each other, for their common defense, the security of their liberties, and their mutual and general welfare, binding themselves to assist each other, against all force offered to, or attacks made upon them, or any of them, on account of religion, sovereignty, trade, or any other pretense whatever.” (Article III)

To preclude any attempts by the Federation to impinge on the individual sovereignty of the various states, they included this statement in Article II:

“Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled.”

With the Articles of Confederation the states relinquished a small portion of their sovereignty to the “umbrella” government, namely, the powers of war and peace and the unfettered right to form alliances. All other powers were retained by the states.

Our second governing document, the Constitution of the United States, did not alter the fundamental sovereign nature of the states. The only additional sovereignty, of any consequence, relinquished to the federal government was the power to directly tax citizens rather than assessing the State Legislatures for the tax monies necessary to administer the federal government; granting the federal government the right to regulate interstate commerce to insure free trade between the states; coin money and operate the postal service; and the establishment of a national judiciary. The previously delegated powers of war, peace, and international alliances were also restated. Other than that, the states retained their full sovereignty.

Either by malicious intent or oversight, the statement of sovereignty contained in the Second Article of the Articles of Confederation was omitted from the Constitution. However, it was added at the insistence of the Anti-Federalist, with the Ninth and Tenth Amendments ratified in 1791.

“The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

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.”

With the formation of the Democrat Party, organized by Andrew Jackson in 1825, the real power of government began to shift from the people to political parties. For the past hundred and eighty-five years the two major political parties have competed with each other for the reigns of power. Party power has increased until today we are ruled over by an oligarchy consisting of the Speaker of the House, the Majority Leader of the Senate, the President, and the so-called “swing vote” of the Supreme Court, each representing the needs of their respective parties rather than the needs of the people and the states. Lip-service is given to the “sovereignty of the people” by allowing them to choose which of the two political parties will rule over them for the next two, four or six years. The constitutional form of government established by the Founders has all but been forgotten.

If we are ever to regain the liberty and freedom left to us by the Founding Fathers, it is imperative that we throw off the power exercised over us by political parties. This cannot be accomplished in one or two election cycles. Because of the six-year term of Senators, multiple election cycles will be required. However, it can be done with the concentrated and focused efforts of the American people. We can pass on to the next generation a free republican form of government envisioned by the Founders or we can pass on a socialist oligarchy, the choice is up to us.

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The Case For Impeachment

A Tea Party group in San Diego, California is holding a rally on August 28, to demand the impeachment of President Obama. On its blog site, the group gives as a reason for impeachment, “loss of public confidence”. It seems our friends in California have confused our form of government with a parliamentary system where heads of government are routinely removed from office by a vote of “no confidence”. Under a parliamentary system, a coalition of the political parties making up the membership of Parliament elects the Prime Minister. When the coalition loses confidence in the PM to lead the nation effectively, they remove him from office and replace him with another.

In America, the people elect the President through the Electoral College in a round-about and complicated process. No President has ever been successfully impeached and convicted in our 221-year history. It is not likely that an impeachment of Obama would be any more successful than those of Andrew Johnson or Bill Clinton. That does not mean the San Diego rally will not be a good venue of protest, and will send a message to politicians that Californians are not happy with their performance. There are plenty of reasons for impeaching Obama; a lack of confidence is not one of them. Evidently, he still has the confidence of the majority in Congress making impeachment by the House highly unlikely and conviction by the Senate all but impossible.

Impeachment for the right purpose and carried out in a proper manner can have a beneficial effect on the nation. I was not around for the Impeachment of Johnson, but I do remember the impeachment of Bill Clinton. That one quickly deteriorated into a political squabble that divided the country and accomplished little. An impeachment of Obama would be even more divisive and would not lead to removing him from office as the San Diego Tea Party wishes.  Any attempt by Republicans to bring Articles of Impeachment against Obama would immediately lead to accusations of racism and political pettiness.

The one thing most needed in America today is an increased knowledge of the Constitution by those inside and outside the government. An impeachment trial could be one of the best methods for increasing our understanding if it was properly focused. An impeachment hearing by the House of Representative is, in many ways, like a Grand Jury hearing, and as has been rightly noted, a Grand Jury “can indict a ham sandwich”. As Gerald Ford observed, an impeachable offense is whatever the House of Representatives says it is at any given time. The Constitution gives as an impeachable offense the commission of “high crimes and misdemeanors”.

The term “high crimes” is a holdover from English common law and has nothing to do with criminal activities in violation of statutory law. The word “high” has to do with the position of the official being impeached rather than the type of “crime”, the higher the position, the more serious the crime. “Crime” has to do with malfeasance in office, including such things as failure to carry out the duties of the office, favoritism, abuse of power, etc. It also might involve criminal activity such as, bribe taking, perjury, treason or other criminal acts. The penalty for an impeachment conviction is removal from office, after which criminal charges can also be filed by the Justice Department if crime is involved. Otherwise, the penalty is only removal from office and the inability to hold public office afterward.

By its very nature, conviction in an impeachment case is a highly subjective matter unless it involves an overt criminal act. In order to be effective as a teachable event regarding the Constitution, impeachment would need to be focused on a specific unconstitutional act(s) by a government official. Furthermore, the offense would have to be easily ascertainable by the general public without any legal knowledge. A perfect example was given to us last moth by Judge Susan Bolton and the Arizona Federal District Court.

The overt violation of Constitution Law is found in Article III, Section 2, Paragraph 2:

“In all cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction. In all other cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make”.

In order to understand the Framers’ meaning and intent, it is not necessary to refer to previous Supreme Court cases, or the Federal Code. Neither is it necessary to have any training in law. In fact, legal training seems to be a hindrance to understanding the clear meaning of the sentences used, as is often the case with Constitution questions. Understanding the motivation of the Framers is also not necessary, although the status of the four parties mentioned would seem to indicate that their motivation was to preserve the sovereign dignity of the parties to the cases singled out by the clause for special treatment.

The meaning of this paragraph stands on its own, independent of any consideration of other parts of the Constitution or other writings of the Founders. The first sentence clearly says that, in all cases in which a state shall be party, the Supreme Court has original jurisdiction. The three most common reasons given by those who either support or accept the usurpation of power by the Arizona District Court are tradition, Congresses’ power to regulate Court jurisdiction, and the Supreme Court’s acceptance of Congressional exceptions.

Neither of the three is constitutionally acceptable. The arguments of tradition and acceptance are reminiscent of the theological question debated by seminarians since time immemorial. “How long does a heresy need to continue before it becomes truth?” If District Courts have routinely ignored this Constitution paragraph since the founding of the Republic, it does not change the meaning or arrangement of the words used. Neither Congress nor the Court has the constitutional power to change the language of the Constitution without an Amendment. In this case, Congress is given the power to make exceptions to cases over which the Supreme Court has appellate jurisdiction. It is not given the power to make exceptions in cases over which the Supreme Court has original jurisdiction. The second use of the word “shall” in the first sentence precludes the Supreme Court itself from having the power to make exceptions.

This paragraph is clear enough in meaning and sufficiently vague in the understanding of the political class and ordinary citizens that it makes the ideal teaching tool for acquainting citizens with the Constitution and its interpretation. It involves one of the most clearly written and easy to understand passages in the Constitution, a clear usurpation of power by the District Court, and an overt attack on the constitutional doctrine of state sovereignty. The nation clearly needs a debate on the nature, purpose and meaning of the Constitution. We would be hard put to find a better case to start the debate than the one presented by “United States vs. Arizona”.

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The Death of Federalism

Federalism is dead in America; its Constitution on life support. With Barack Obama in the White House and progressive democrats in control of Congress, the left’s centuries old goal of a consolidated government has finally been realized. With federalism gone, the Constitution becomes little more than an interesting historical artifact to be marveled at by historians and academicians. The experiment of enumerated powers and state sovereignty no longer has any relevance in American politics.

For over two hundred years, the one defining characteristic of the American psyche has been a desire for independence and its natural twin, liberty. It was to secure and maintain this independence that the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution were written and published to the world. Thomas Jefferson, writing what he considered to be “an expression of the American mind” wrote in the concluding paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, these words:

“We, therefore, the  Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do.”

For more than a hundred and fifty years, the Colonies had considered themselves as independent colonies, governed by laws of their own making, under the protection of the British Crown. Their relationship with the British government as expressed through its Parliament had always been tenuous at best. It was the increasing encroachment on the colonies independent status by Parliament that eventually led to the break with Great Britain and the Revolutionary War.

It is interesting to note that in the original copy of the Declaration of Independence on display in the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom in Washington, D.C., and in most published copies of the Declaration, the word “united” in the first line of the final paragraph is not capitalized. It is “united States of America” not “United States of America”. The significance of this minor detail is in the type of union the Colonies envisioned. Also, notice that states never appears in the singular, always the plural. Compare the plural word “states” as used in our founding documents with the singular title, “State of Great Britain”. The colonies were “united” in their independence from England and they were “united” in defense. They did not consider themselves to be, and did not contemplate becoming a single consolidated “State” government.

The government later established under the Articles of Confederation was anything but a united, state government. In fact, the Articles were primarily concerned with mutual defense and international commerce. Article Two specifically precludes any type of central authority over the states other than the few specified.

Article Two
“Each State retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated to the United States in Congress assembled.”

This spirit of independence held by the states was carried over in the Constitution and was the principle underlying the list of enumerated powers in the Constitution and the prohibition of encroachment by the national government on the liberties of its citizens, by the Bill of Rights, especially the Tenth Amendment. The states would never have ratified a Constitution calling for a central consolidated government. The highly venerated Federalist Papers were written primarily to convince the inhabitants of the various states that such a consolidated government could never develop under the Constitution. As it turns out, Hamilton, Jay and Madison severely underestimated the ingenuity of politicians on a quest for power, and the fears of the anti-federalist who opposed the Constitution have been proven by history, to be valid.

The difference between a “federal government” and a “national government” is more than just a matter of semantics. The national government envisioned by the present administration, regulating a centrally planned economy and regulating the private and collective lives of American citizens cannot be accomplished without uniform national laws and despotic enforcement. This fact has been made manifest by the recently passed and proposed regulatory bills of this administration concerning health care, finance, manufacturing, energy, etc. It is further manifested in the ongoing court cases in Arizona, California, Virginia and some dozen other states concerning immigration, gay marriage, energy production, etc.

The Constitution is a static document. Its words do not change with the calendar. If we are successful in taking back control of the government in the next two elections, there is hope for the restoration of limited constitutional government. However, federalism is dead. Nationalization of the central government has advanced to the point it can never be restored to the status of a federal government without major social upheavals that would never be condoned by the people. The best we can hope for is a modified national government with the gradual elimination of some if its more egregious encroachments.

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Pete Stark: Federal Government Can Do Anything It Wants

A well informed citizen confronts Congressman Pete Stark of California on health care, the Constitution, and the Enumerated Powers doctrine. Stark admitted what is commonly known, the prevailing belief among members of Congress is that Congress can do whatever it wants.

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Pete Stark on Constitution

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