We live in what some politico and social pontiffs have begun to refer to as the “Post-Constitutional Era” of our nation, of which, sadly, I agree.
The federal government’s growth is not merely large in size and presumed scope, but mammoth. I emphasize “presumed” because the the unconstitutional self-granted authority exceeds a simplified “overbearing.” I could go so far as to say, “Big buttinskys need to mind their own business and stay out of our way so we can lives our lives, but they insist on telling us what to do,” but that would be seen as a serious case of sour grapes. So, no, I say presumed scope. Though, what does that mean?
“a long train of abuses and usurpations . . . to reduce them under absolute Despotism”
-The US Declaration of Independence, Paragraph 2, Lines 9–10 (paraphrased)
Since the initiation of the Progressive Era — circa 1900 — the federal government has unconstitutionally seized power belonging to the Congress and the states by creating agencies which are run by unelected officials. These agencies have come to legislate in their own interests, though they are not constitutionally authorized to do so. The power to legislate at the federal level clearly belongs to Congress, as enumerated in Article I, Section 1 of the United States Constitution. Both parties’ administrations have created enormous bureaucracies, and these agencies create self-serving regulations under what they wrongly refer to as implied powers. These power grabs are clearly unconstitutional, as the Tenth Amendment states:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited to it by the Senate, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people
Encroachments are continually made upon states’ rights and personal liberty, as well as existing agreements, with unconstitutional actions of unelected bureaucrats nearly (or actually) resulting in the death of American citizens.
Consider for a moment the recent conflict in Nevada which made a few headlines (with many important facts largely unreported), one in which a rancher who had been using grazing territory for decades came under fire from the Bureau of Land Management. The gentleman’s name is Cliven Bundy, and he faced stiff fines, jail time, and confiscation of his property, namely cattle, because he was using land for grazing that his family had been working since before the BLM even existed.
The federal government changed aspects of existing laws while choosing to ignore others, then slapped a fine on Mr. Bundy to the tune of $1 million in back fees. I will not pretend to be an expert in this particular case, but a very clear and concise summary of the dispute is located here.
Over the years many other usurpation of states’ rights have come in the form of emergency powers and executive orders (executive action could originate at all levels of government, not just presidential). Now, don’t you Obama supporters start firing off the flares just yet. I’m not even going to mention how many times he’s written executive orders. I’ll instead look to other progressives:
According to the American Presidency Project George W. Bush signed 291executive orders, William Jefferson Clinton weighed in at 364, Richard Milhous Nixon issued 346, and Dwight D. Eisenhower with 484.The chief of all offenders? Franklin Delano Roosevelt, with a whopping 3,522 executive orders. Many of these orders were non-partisan in nature, and one could argue that some executive orders were passed with the best of intentions. The issue I take with the directives is that some are outdated and others have created long-term damage to our nation, yet they still stand.
FDR, for instance, issued orders to help the people during the Great Depression that continue to affect the lives of American citizens. During his 100 Days Program, in 1933, he ordained a great number of actions under Executive Order 15, which was designed to reign in our economy and create jobs. Among these was the Emergency Banking Act, which was signed on March 9 and designed to prevent bank runs which were causing the banks to go on holidays when the physical supply of money had run out. Instead, he closed all of the banks until they could be reopened in an orderly and fiscally stable way. Another was the creation of the Civilian Conservation Corps. This program found employment for 250,000 people and dealt with the problems of erosion, flood control, and similar issues. Not a bad thing, right?
But then there was his order to remove the dollar from the Gold Standard, which he mandated on April 19 (this action devalued the dollar, shifting it from $20/gold-oz to roughly $33/gold-oz). This was the key move in creating what is now a fiat currency. Why is this a bad thing, you may ask? Well, now our money is backed by promises (and military force) rather than gold. The dollar is only as strong as our wealth (minus debt). Have you taken a look at our deficit and unfunded liabilities lately?
FDR in many ways did the right thing for the people, but the wrong thing for the country, as the country outlives the people. We are now paying the price for the executive actions of our prior presidents, orders that at times were unconscionable, let alone unconstitutional. Must I remind you of the internment camps in which the United States federal government “placed” the Japanese Americans during World War II?
Another way states’ rights have been nullified, that is, rendered void and of no effect, was through the passage of the Seventeenth Amendment. Before the Seventeenth Amendment was ratified, each state’s senate (remember that each state is itself a constitutional republic) would convene to make a decision — to argue vehemently — about which two among them would be sent to the Congress to represent the interests of the state in the United States Senate. The enacting of the aforementioned amendment placed the decision directly in the hands of the American people with US Senators being selected by popular vote, effectively creating two Houses of Representatives, albeit with different term durations. The amendment also eliminated the checks states could place on the federal government.
I will continue with that angle in Part II of this piece.
Hopefully, I have given you enough food for thought to nourish the idea that change is immediately necessary if we hope to preserve our great nation.