28 Principles That Helped Build America – Chapter 18 – Principle #18

Only Limited and Carefully Defined Powers Should Be Delegated to Government, All Others Be Retained in the People


This goes along with the 10th 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.


Proverbs 28:4-5 “Those who abandon God’s teachings praise wicked people, but those who follow God’s teachings oppose wicked people. Evil people do not understand justice.” (from GOD’S WORD)


This was one principle that our Founding Fathers felt was very important and that was to prohibit the federal government from having too much power. This principle was to help balance the powers between the federal government and the states. The federal government could keep the states in check and the states could do likewise with the federal government.


The Founding Fathers knew from their study of history that the tendency was always to move towards absolute control to where governments would become corrupt and abusive, this principle was designed to keep the power between the states and the federal government in check with one another. It was designed to reinforce the principle of limited government.


The Founders knew that unless there was a healthy relationship between the federal government and the states that each would begin to deteriorate and one or the other would begin to dominate. In other words, if one or the other began to dominate it would either mean the end of local self-government and the security of the individual or the federal government becoming so weak that the structure of the nation would begin to deteriorate.


The Founders knew – by keeping a strict balance between the state and the federal government – that it would give the individual recourse if abuse came by one or the other. For example, if the states encroached upon the rights of the individual the federal government was there to overcome and if the federal government encroached upon the rights of the individual, the states were there for recourse.


Alexander Hamilton says: “Power being almost always a rival of power, the general government will at all times stand ready to check the usurpations of the state governments, and these will have the same disposition towards the general government.”


One problem that has arisen is the election of our U.S. Senators. What would our Founding Fathers think (according to the 17th amendment) when our senators are elected by popular vote rather than appointed by the state legislatures? If the House of Representatives passed something the U.S. Senate could always block it, but because the U.S. Senate has been appointed by popular vote they often are kept in power by what they can ‘bring home’ to the state or constituents.


For example, I read an article in our last elections that one of the reasons why a voter in the state of Nevada voted for Harry Reid is not because he thought he was the best representative for the state, but because he was able to ‘bring home’ what is known as “pork.” Because of this the question does arise: Are the states able to stop the might of the federal government if the Congress began legislating against state’s rights? At the moment it seems doubtful.


Another danger that is lurking in the back-ground is what is known as “Executive Orders” that while a president is in office He can initiate. Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu1 said:  “There can be no liberty where the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person.” Todd F. Gaziano Director, Center for Legal & Judicial Studies Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies remarked: “A President who abuses his executive order authority undermines the constitutional separation of powers and may even violate it.”


Thomas Sowell in his book THE VISION OF THE ANOINTED made the comment that government expansion comes through crises. They can be real, created or imaginary but the results are the same. The solution to the crises is more government offices (expansion) in order to fix the problem. When Rahm Emanuel (now the mayor of Chicago) was Obama’s chief of staff he made this famous statement: “We cannot allow a crisis to go to waste.”


Outside the archive building in Washington DC is a monument that declares: “ETERNAL VIGILANCE IS THE PRICE OF LIBERTY.”


Are we losing our freedom (liberty) because of a lack of vigilance???

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