WASHINGTON, November 13, 2014 – If the recent election provided any insight into the psyche of the American voters’ minds, it is this: voters are dissatisfied with the government – and the governors – that we have. What was not apparent is what voters do want. This, as they say, presents our rulers with an opportunity.
Why are voters so divided over federal issues, anyway? The Christian Right is fighting the LGBT bunch; the NSA is looking for more money to use to spy on us, in more ways; immigrants are divided into legal and illegal, and the illegals receive better treatment than the legal ones; bakers who don’t want to make gay wedding cakes and photographers who don’t want to photograph gay weddings are demonized and fined; the IRS has become weaponized as the tool of the Administration; veterans are left out in the cold, even as VA administrators get bonuses; congressional subpoenae are ignored; anti-abortionists and abortionists clash over a woman’s “right” to elective surgery and who pays for it; a new tax is disguised as “mere” socialized medicine. There are plenty of things Americans are steamed about.
But they needn’t be. There is a simple, lawful solution that would take these issues off the national stage, and bring them to a local level, where people can work things out in their own communities, rather than trying to wrest power from one another through the increasingly-expensive auction of senate seats.
In fact, the solution would reduce the price of those national chairs, as it would reduce the value of those seats. The solution is called The Constitution of the United States of America.
In that document is the framework for how people can resolve their differences, democratically and without interference from other people who live a thousand miles away and have no right to be meddling.
In that document, the federal government is prohibited from deciding, regulating, or modifying many of the issues that pull the country apart. The Constitution doesn’t pretend to hold the solutions to all the peoples’ ills or disagreements, but it does allow people to find the solutions that best suit their communities.
Did you know you can marry your first cousin in New York or California, but it’s a crime in South Dakota or Nevada? If a judge lets you, you can marry at 14 in New York, but there is no statutory age limit at all – again, with court permission — in Delaware! Is it fair that a boy needs to be older than a girl to get married without parental permission in several states? Is it fair that couples who already have children together can have many of these laws waived? States have all sorts of laws about marriage, but that’s OK – marriage simply is not a federal issue.
On the other side of the coin, states should not write immigration laws, even procedural ones; but if the federal government refuses to protect the states’ borders, the state governments still have an obligation to protect their citizens. Hence the upside-down clash in Arizona, a problem that could be completely eliminated by the federal government’s following its constitutional mandates.
These controversies, and myriad others, could be avoided by following the prime law of the land. Instead of forming national coalitions to force everyone to do the bidding of a special-interest group, the group could lobby locally. If, say, some group in Arkansas wants collard greens to be mandatory in school lunches, there is nothing preventing that from happening on a state level. But suppose the majority of Arkansans don’t want that – but the collard greens lobby is strong in several other states? Lobbying for a federal law begins, and opportunistic politicians nationwide seize on the issue – there is precious little opposition, but a small and enthusiastic pressure group might represent the votes needed to sway a narrow election.
So collard greens go on the menu, nationwide, and the Arkansans who didn’t want the stuff are forced to serve it to their kids.
Gay marriage? Populations in state after state have rejected the idea, but once the federal government gets involved, what the people of a given state want no longer matters; the LGBT team can persuade national legislators to assume the power to regulate anything, and the American people are so brainwashed that they think the federal government actually has the power to regulate anything.
But a reading of the Constitution says otherwise. Aside from the specific powers granted Congress under Article I, Section 8, the Constitution is clarified by the Tenth Amendment: “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.”
We face an increasing and recent trend to concentrate all power in the Executive Branch. That is illegal on its face, and the Constitution has a remedy for that, too. It’s called “impeachment,” and it is the right of Congress to impeach a lawless president.
But our Legislative Branch would rather fob off its power, its duty, and its consequences on a different branch, action which itself is illegal. And its remedy, at least under the current Speaker, is not to impeach, but to file a lawsuit that, if it is ever decided, would tell the President to please stop doing the admittedly illegal things he’s doing. That filing’s an extra-Constitutional act, too…
Lest one bring out the tired but oft-successful erroneous argument that the “general welfare clause” gives unlimited powers to Congress, Thomas Jefferson had an explanation. The phrase reads, “to lay taxes for the purpose of providing for the general welfare.” Jefferson says, “…they are not to do anything they please to provide for the general welfare, but only to lay taxes for that purpose. To consider the latter phrase, not as describing the purpose of the first, but as giving a distinct and independent power to do any act they please, which might be for the good of the Union, would render all the preceding and subsequent enumerations of power completely useless.” [Jefferson’s italics.]
He continues, “It would reduce the whole instrument [the Constitution] to a single phrase, that of instituting a Congress with power to do whatever would be for the good of the United States; and, as they would be the sole judges of the good or evil, it would be also a power to do whatever evil they please.”
And, though they indeed try to do whatever they please, they can’t. And when they do, it’s a crime.
In order to reduce strife and re-focus the voters and candidates on realistic, legal activities of government, it is imperative that the federal government stop legislating outside its authority. Let the states again become self-governing, within the Constitution; and may the federal government do only that which it is legal for it to do. The blueprint and the law are in the Constitution, and they aren’t optional.