WASHINGTON, January 9, 2016 – “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government,” argued James Madison, father of our Constitution, “are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.”
Madison’s argument was meant to alleviate the concerns among his many forceful state opponents, the Anti-Federalists. Madison believed the charter governing the new national government, as drawn up in Philadelphia, would prevent the government from devolving into despotism, forcing its will upon its creators, the states.
George Mason in his argument against the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, wrote:
“If strong and extensive powers are vested in the Executive, and that Executive consists only of one person, the government will of course degenerate (for I will call it degeneracy) into monarchy.”
Robert Yates, taking the Anti-Federalist position in 1788, wrote:
“What is to limit the oppression of the general government? Where are the rights, which are declared to be incapable of violation? And what security have people against the wanton oppression of unprincipled governors. No constitutional redress is pointed out, and no express declaration is contained in it, to limit the boundaries of their rulers,”
The Constitution’s ratification was secured only after the Federalists promised that the first Congress would amend the document and draft a Bill of Rights to be ratified by the states.
Today, the Bill of Rights doesn’t matter all that much.
Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid submitted a constitutional amendment designed to water down the First Amendment in an effort to limit campaign financing, while granting Congress power to regulate speech.
And a few days ago, President Obama appeared on national television, shed the tears of a clown, and announced his latest royal decree to further erode our “inalienable” Second Amendment right to bear arms.
And the high court has served to uphold the most draconian expression of despotism in modern American history: the U.S. government’s confiscation of medicine, Obamacare, using the Democratic Party’s opponent-targeting Gestapo – the IRS – to write its regulations and impose its provisions on a once free people.
So it’s understandable that Liberty-loving Americans now believe the guarantees of the well-meaning James Madison, that the powers of his constitutional government are “few and defined,” aren’t worth a bucket of warm spit.
But in their laziness, they forget Madison’s brilliant emergency provision in the Constitution’s Article V, which states that if the
“Legislatures of two thirds of the several States” call for a “Convention for proposing Amendments,” they “shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States.”
Speaking before the Texas Public Policy Foundation last Thursday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said,
“When measured by how far we have strayed from the Constitution we originally agreed to, the government’s flagrant and repeated violations of the rule of law amount to a wholesale abdication of the Constitution’s design,”
President Obama’s unilateral action on gun control “threatens Second Amendment rights, even though the entire point of the Bill of Rights was to protect Americans from invasions of their liberties.”
That last sentence is worth unpacking.
Where does all sovereignty rest in Great Britain? Its Parliament.
Where does all sovereignty rest in America? “We the People.”
You can find the beating heart of “American exceptionalism” expressed in the fading parchment of our Declaration of Independence. It boldly states that the American people should “assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them.”
It obliquely references another declaration that states, “Since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse,” says the New Testament book of Romans.
That is what Thomas Jefferson meant when he said,
“We hold these truths to be self-evident [“people are without excuse”] that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights [“God’s invisible qualities]; that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
The Constitution’s Bill of Rights exists to emphasize that America is founded on the sanctity of individual freedom against the arbitrary whims of a government representing the democratic mob.
These individual rights are “inalienable,” not transferable to a weeping, gun-grabbing Democratic president or subject to repudiation by prominent Democratic Senators determined to squelch free speech.
Individual liberty is, by its very nature, undemocratic. That is why the First Amendment, which sets the tone for the original 9 that follow, begins with the five most beautiful words in the English language – the godlike prohibition – “Congress shall make no law.”
The sovereignty of the individual is the essence of American exceptionalism.
This explains why President Obama became confused and disoriented when he attempted to define American exceptionalism, confusing it for big-government internationalism. “I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism,” he said.
In support of Texas Gov. Abbott’s call for an Article V constitutional convention of states, GOP presidential candidate and former Texas solicitor general, Senator Ted Cruz, said,
“There are many more amendments we need, in part because the federal government and the courts have gotten so far away from the original text and the original understanding of our Constitution.”
The constitutional changes suggested by Abbott are:
- Prohibit Congress from regulating activity that occurs wholly within one State.
- Require Congress to balance its budget.
- Prohibit administrative agencies—and the unelected bureaucrats that staff them—from creating federal law.
- Prohibit administrative agencies—and the unelected bureaucrats that staff them—from preempting state law.
- Allow a two-thirds majority of the States to override a U.S. Supreme Court decision.
- Require a seven-justice super-majority vote for U.S. Supreme Court decisions that invalidate a democratically enacted law.
- Restore the balance of power between the federal and state governments by limiting the former to the powers expressly delegated to it in the Constitution.
- Give state officials the power to sue in federal court when federal officials overstep their bounds.
- Allow a two-thirds majority of the States to override a federal law or regulation.
It’s unreasonable to expect the three branches of our national government to relinquish all the power they have usurped for themselves.
It falls to the states, Washington’s creators and masters, to reclaim the “numerous and indefinite” powers granted them by their individual sovereigns — “We the People of the United States.”