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The Balance of Powers Act – How People Are Destroyed For Lack of knowledge

publius-HuldahBy Publius Huldah

Our own Ignorance is destroying us.  Mark Twain wrote in his autobiography:

“In religion and politics people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.”

That is what has been going on in our Country for a very long time. Our “intellectuals” can’t think; our “scholars” parrot each other; the self-educated fixate on idiotic theories; no one studies original source writings; and The People jump on every bandwagon that rolls by.

In order to write intelligently on our Constitution, one needs to have studied and understood the original source writings of our Framers.  No matter what your educational level, if you don’t know what is in our Declaration of Independence and federal Constitution; and if you are not familiar from personal study with The Federalist Papers, The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions of 1798, Madison’s Report on the Virginia Resolutions (1799-1800), and Madison’s Notes on Nullification (1834), among other original source writings, then you have no business writing about these issues.

But we are flooded with rubbish about the Constitution put out by law professors, history professors, Ph.Ds. of this or that, Heritage Foundation, those with no academic qualifications, and politicians. And none of them know what they are talking about!

And The People read their rubbish and believe it.

One of many such writings which plague us is the Balance of Powers Act  (“BOPA”). 1

The BOPA reflects a justified frustration with the innumerable usurpations by the federal government during the last 100 years.

But it also reflects such fundamental misunderstandings of our Founding Principles that it misstates or ignores them.  Accordingly, it undermines our Constitution.

There are 6 major problems with the BOPA:

1. It wrongly presents the federal government as a party to the U.S. Constitution.

Throughout the BOPA, the following refrain is recited:

 “The guarantee of those powers is a matter of compact between the state and people of _[state]__ and the United States as of the time that _[state]____ was admitted to statehood in _[year of admission]_.” [boldface mine]

That refrain elevates the federal government (“the United States”) 2 to the status of a “party” to the compact (Constitution)!

But the federal government is not a party to the Constitution! WE THE PEOPLE created the federal government when we ordained and established The Constitution. The federal government didn’t even exist until the Constitution was ratified.

Accordingly, our Framers understood that the federal government is merely our “creature”, and is not a “party” to anything. In Federalist No. 33 (5th para), Alexander Hamilton writes:

“… If the federal government should overpass the just bounds of its authority and make a tyrannical use of its powers, the people, whose creature it is, must appeal to the standard [Constitution] they have formed, and take such measures to redress the injury done to the Constitution as the exigency may suggest and prudence justify.” [boldface mine]

Thomas Jefferson writes in his Draft of the Kentucky Resolutions, 8th Resolution:

“… they [The States] alone being parties to the compact, and solely authorized to judge in the last resort of the powers exercised under it, Congress being not a party, but merely the creature of the compact, …” [emphasis mine]

James Madison writes in his Report on the Virginia Resolutions (1799-1800) under the 3rd resolution:

“It…[is]…a plain principle, founded in common sense…and essential to the nature of compacts, that, where resort can be had to no tribunal superior to the authority of the parties, the parties themselves must be the rightful judges, in the last resort, whether the bargain made has been pursued or violated. The Constitution of the United States was formed by the sanction of the states, given by each in its sovereign capacity. … The states, then, being the parties to the constitutional compact, and in their sovereign capacity, it follows of necessity that there can be no tribunal, above their authority, to decide, in the last resort, whether the compact made by them be violated; … ” [boldface mine]

Hamilton, Jefferson, and Madison are saying that because the States alone are “the parties” to the compact, they are the final authority to decide whether their “creature”, the  federal government, has violated the compact.   THIS is why States have the natural right of nullification!

But by asserting that States and the federal government are in a “compact” together, the BOPA elevates our “creature” to the status of a sovereign party right up there with The States!  Thus, it undermines the “plain principle” that the States alone, as the parties to the compact, have the right to decide, in the last resort, whether the federal government has violated the compact! 3

2. It wrongly suggests that each State (after the original 13) has a different Constitution

Here is another wrongheaded aspect of the same refrain in BOPA:

“The guarantee of those powers is a matter of compact between the state and people of _[state]__ and the United States as of the time that _[state]____ was admitted to statehood in _[year of admission]_.” [boldface mine]

The BOPA makes the absurd suggestion (which is piled on top of the untrue assertion that the federal government is a party to the compact) that every State admitted after the original 13, has a different “compact” with the federal government, depending on the year of admission.

So instead of one Constitution applicable to all States, we have (according to the BOPA) some 37 “compacts” (Constitutions) [50-13= 37].   Not only is this absurd, it perpetuates the lie spewed by progressives that the meaning of the Constitution evolves.

When Tennessee was admitted to statehood on June 1, 1796, she was admitted “on an equal footing with the original states, in all respects whatsoever”.  The U.S. Constitution has the same force in Tennessee and in the same manner as if Tennessee had been one of the original 13 States.  See, “An Act for the admission of the State of Tennessee into the Union”.

3. It misstates the original intent of the “interstate commerce” clause.

 Section 2 (3) of the BOPA asserts that the interstate commerce clause (Art. I, Sec. 8, cl. 3):

“…was meant to empower Congress to regulate the buying and selling of products made by others (and sometimes land), associated finance and financial instruments, and navigation and other carriage, across state jurisdictional lines…”

That is demonstrably false, and no authorities are cited.

We look to The Federalist Papers to learn the original intent of the clause. Federalist No. 22 (4th para), Federalist No. 42 (9th &10th paras), Federalist No. 44 (at 2.), and Federalist No. 56  (4th & 5th paras), explain the two purposes of the “interstate commerce” clause:

♣To prohibit the States from imposing tolls and tariffs on articles of import and export – goods & commodities – merchandize – as they are transported through the States for purposes of buying and selling; and

To permit the federal government to impose duties on articles of commerce and imports.4

 

4. It doesn’t properly set forth the original intent of the “necessary and proper” clause.

Section 2 (4) of the BOPA asserts that the necessary and proper clause (Art. I, Sec. 8, last cl.), was:

“… a limitation of power under the common-law doctrine of “principals and incidents,” which restricts the power of Congress to exercise incidental powers. There are two (2) main conditions required for something to be incidental, and therefore, “necessary and proper.” The law or power exercised must be 1) directly applicable to the main, enumerated power, and 2) it must be “lesser” than the main power.”

That is neither helpful nor authoritative.

The Federalist Papers explain the original intent of this clause. It merely delegates to Congress the power to pass laws necessary and proper to execute its declared powers (Federalist No. 29, 4th para); a power to do something must be a power to pass all laws necessary and proper for the execution of that power (Federalist No. 33, 3rd para); “the constitutional operation of the intended government would be precisely the same if [this clause] were entirely obliterated as if [it] were repeated in every article” (No. 33, 2nd para); and thus the clause is “perfectly harmless”, a  “tautology or redundancy” (No. 33, 3rd para).  Madison says the same in Federalist No. 44, at 1 (under his discussion of the SIXTH class).

In plain English, the clause merely permits Congress to make laws to carry out the enumerated powers of the three branches of the federal government.

For example: The duty of some of the federal courts created by Art. I, Sec. 8, cl. 9 is to conduct trials (in the types of cases Art. III, Sec. 2, cl. 1 permits them to hear).  Trials involve parties and witnesses. They must be required to tell the Truth! So, it would be necessary and proper for Congress to make laws against perjury in federal court.

 

5. It misstates the original intent of the “general welfare” clause.

Section 2 (5) of the BOPA asserts that the general welfare clause (Art. I, Sec. 8, cl. 1) requires:

“… that congress only enact laws which serve all citizens well and equally. When James Madison was asked if this clause were a grant of power, he replied “If not only the means but the objects are unlimited, the parchment [the Constitution] should be thrown into the fire at once.” Thus, we re-establish that this clause is a limitation on the power of the federal government to act in the welfare of all when passing laws in pursuance of the powers delegated to the United States, showing no favor to any race, creed, color or socio-economic class.”

That is not true, and no authorities are cited in support of the assertion that the general welfare clause means that Congress must treat all social classes the same.

The limitation imposed by the Constitution on Congress’ powers is that laws made by Congress must fall within the scope of the enumerated powers delegated to Congress. 

The term, “general welfare”, as used in our Constitution, has nothing to do with treating people of all races, creeds, and social classes the same.

Our Framers understood the “general welfare” (as applied to States) to refer to:

“Exemption from any unusual evil or calamity; the enjoyment of peace and prosperity, or the ordinary blessings of society and civil government.” (Webster’s 1828 Dictionary)

They saw that this condition could be brought about by the federal government we created in our Constitution:  A federal government divided into three parts, with each part having checks on the other parts; and with only enumerated powers delegated to each of the three parts.

Accordingly, the Preamble to our Constitution says:

“WE THE PEOPLE of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” [boldface mine]

And that portion of our Constitution which introduces the list of most of the enumerated powers delegated to Congress over the Country at Large (Art. I, Sec. 8, cl 1) says:

“The Congress shall have Power … to … provide for the common defense and general Welfare of the United States…” [boldface mine]

Immediately thereafter follows the enumeration of 15 specific powers delegated to Congress over the Country at Large. In essence, these 15 powers authorize Congress to:

♣Provide for military defense and international relations and commerce;

♣Establish a uniform commercial system (bankruptcy laws, a money system based on gold & silver, weights & measures,  mail delivery & some road building, patents & copyrights); and

♣Make laws for naturalization of new citizens.

Our Framers understood that the “general Welfare” – the enjoyment of peace and prosperity, and the enjoyment of the ordinary blessings of society and civil government – would prevail with the federal government of narrowly defined and enumerated powers created by our Constitution! 5

Section (6) (A) of the BOPA then goes on to assert that the commerce clause, general welfare clause, and necessary & proper clause were amended and limited by the 2nd, 9th, and 10th Amendments!

Rubbish! Not only is no authority cited for this bizarre assertion, it is because the author lacks understanding of the original intents of the three clauses that he believes they needed to be “fixed” by amendments!

6. It ignores the Essential Characteristic of our Federal Constitution.

The essence of our federal Constitution is that it created a federal government of three branches, with each branch having checks on the other two branches. Furthermore, it delegated only specific, narrowly defined powers to each branch.

James Madison writes in Federalist No. 45 (3rd para from end) of the “few and defined” powers delegated to the federal government:

“The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.” [boldface mine]

What We have lost is the knowledge that Our Constitution delegated only “few and defined” – enumerated – powers to each branch of the federal government. For complete lists and explanations of the powers our Constitution delegated to each branch, see:

♣Congress’ enumerated powers [Art. I, Sec. 8, cl. 1-16 is not the complete list]

♣The president’s enumerated powers

♣The federal court’s enumerated powers

Any American of common sense and ordinary understanding is capable of fully understanding the scope of the powers delegated by our Constitution to Congress and to the President. 6

This is one of the keys to Restoration of our Constitutional Republic.

The BOPA contains a number of other statements which are confused and erroneous.

Conclusion

Our Framers were exquisitely educated in Logic, Judeo-Christian values, political philosophy, and statecraft. The American People of our Founding Era had the Wisdom and Humility to listen to our Framers.

Let us once again show that same Wisdom and Humility.  Listen to Our Framers.

Endnotes:

1 The BOPA is the product of The Constitutional Justice Division of the North American law Center.  As grand as those titles do sound, the BOPA does not reflect the light cast by minds schooled in law or statecraft. Furthermore, the writing is confused and some of the sentences undiagrammable.

2 Throughout our Constitution, the “federal government” is referred to as “the United States”.

3 Parties to compacts have mutual rights and obligations. The federal government has no “rights” – it has only those few delegated powers WE enumerated in the Constitution. The People pre-existed the Constitution. The States pre-existed the Constitution. Since the federal government didn’t exist until the Constitution was ratified, it can’t be a “party” to it! It is impossible to understand our Constitution unless one understands that the federal government is merely a “creature” of the Constitution – and as such, is completely subject to its terms.

4 For additional proof of the original intent of the “interstate commerce” clause see: Does the Interstate Commerce Clause Authorize Congress to Force us to buy Health Insurance?

5 The progressives say the general welfare clause gives Congress power to pass any law they say promotes the “general welfare”.

James Madison refutes that misconstruction in Federalist No. 41 (last 4 paras).  See also: Does the general welfare clause of the U.S. Constitution authorize Congress to force us to buy health insurance?

The BOPA’s erroneous assertion that the clause means that laws passed by Congress must “serve all citizens well and equally”, could easily morph into the perversion that Congress may do whatever it likes as long as its laws are fair to all races, creeds, and classes.

But the constitutional standard is that acts of Congress must fall within the scope of the enumerated powers delegated to Congress. We must not blur that clear line with our own fabricated feel-good theories.  READ the last 4 paras of Federalist No. 41!

6 Some knowledge of law and litigation is necessary to fully understand the enumerated powers of the federal courts. But if our People would make the modest effort necessary to learn the enumerated powers of Congress and the President, they would become

a people enlightened enough to distinguish between a legal exercise and an illegal usurpation of authority.” (Federalist No. 16   [Hamilton] next to last para)

Then they would be able to distinguish between constitutional and unconstitutional acts of Congress and the Executive Branch. PH

March 25, 2013

Choosing The Senate President

Nothing triggers my Don Quixote spirit more so than that part of the Presidential campaign when the Presidential candidate is shopping for a running mate. Reading between the lines, over the lines, or under the lines, I can find nothing in the Constitution to justify the Presidential candidate being allowed to pick the V.P. candidate.

The Founding Fathers intended for the office of Vice President to be the second most powerful office in government. He is to serve as the Presiding Officer over the day-to-activities of the Senate and is to be selected by voters of the entire country, not by the voters of a single state, as is the case today when we allow the Senate Majority Leader to usurp the constitutional duties of the Vice President. The only duties assigned to the Vice President by the Constitution are to count the votes of the Electoral College and to serve as President of the Senate. Click HERE  for a more detailed discussion.

We have seen over the past three-and-a-half years the damage that can be done to our legislative processes and to the country when political hacks whose only loyalty is to their party and their only goal is gaining more power, are allowed to preside over the two houses of Congress. While John Boehner is incompetent as Speaker of the House, at least his office is constitutional and he was duly elected by the membership of the House.  There is however, no constitutional requirement that the Speaker be from the majority party of even a member of Congress.

While the Constitution (Art. 1.2.9) permits the House to elect its Presiding Officer, the same is not true for the Senate. Article I, Sec. 3, clause 6, 7 requires, “The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided. The Senate shall choose their other Officers, and also a President pro tempore, in the Absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the Office of President of the United States.”  

The President pro tempore is not a permanent office. He is to be chosen by the Senate to serve temporarily as the Presiding Officer of the Senate only, “in the absence of the Vice President, or when he (the V.P.) shall exercise the Office of President of the United States.”  The Speaker of the House is the Presiding Officer of the House of Representatives, and the Vice President of the United States is the Presiding Officer of the Senate. There is no constitutional requirement for him to be a member of the majority party just as there is no requirement that the Speaker of the House be a member of Congress. The President of the Senate is the only officer of the Legislative Branch to be elected nationally and accountable to the voters of the entire country.

While there is no way, in the short term, to bring the Federal government back in line with the Constitution, we should be working tirelessly to that end. In the meanwhile, if Mitt Romney wishes to follow the spirit if not the letter of the Constitution and Amendment XII, in selecting his running mate, he should choose Rick Santorum since he received the second largest number of delegates during the Primaries.

Also see these two posts from the 2008 election cycle.

http://illinoisconservative.wordpress.com/2008/10/07/thomas-jefferson-advice-to-sarah-palin/

http://illinoisconservative.wordpress.com/2008/10/04/sarah-palin-as-president-of-the-senate/

Another Big Lie of the Left

One of the most absurd and dangerous ideas ever sold to the American people is found in the oft repeated slogan, “Our diversity is our strength”. We have heard this a lot lately with the push for open borders and sodomite marriage. A little reflection mixed with a little common sense quickly shows the fallacy of this cliché. “How can two walk together except they be agreed?”  The problem is that it has been repeated so often and sounds so appealing that many if not most of our fellow citizens have accepted it as the gospel truth. Consequently, they are not too alarmed when the Democrat Party uses the many diverse groups that make up the American society to divide us into voting blocks designed to keep them in power.

The Hallmark of the American socialists who make up today’s Democrat Party, is their success in dividing the American people into groups along racial, ethnic, economic and social lines, and then pandering to those groups through legislation designed to secure their loyalty in dependable, organized voting blocs. Often proponents of this tactic use the motto, “E Pluribus Unum”, Latin for, “Out of many, one,”  inscribed on the Great Seal of the United States, to show that diversity has always been an American ideal.

As is usual when progressives attempt to use language to support their causes, the motto on the Great Seal has a meaning opposite to what the left would have us believe. At the time it was adopted by the Continental Congress in 1781, it had nothing do with the population makeup of the thirteen colonies. Rather it was a graphic illustration of the unity of those colonies in their opposition to British tyranny under King George III.

On the face of the Great Seal immediately above the banner containing the motto, we see a constellation of thirteen stars representing the unity of the thirteen colonies. The shield has thirteen stripes, again representing the thirteen colonies. The olive branch, a universally recognized symbol of peace, held in the eagle’s claw, has thirteen leaves and thirteen berries. The thirteen arrows, held in the other claw represent the Iroquois symbol of war. Together, they form a graphic illustration of a line found in the Declaration of Independence, “We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace, Friends. (End of next to last para.)

On the reverse side of the seal, we see an unfinished pyramid with thirteen levels representing the yet unfilled potential of the Union. Above the pyramid we have the all-seeing eye of Divine Providence watching over its progress, another reference to the Declaration; “with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” (Last sentence in Declaration of Ind.)

The Great Seal of the United States was officially adopted by the new Congress on September 15, 1789 when it ordered, “that the seal heretofore used by the United States in Congress assembled, shall be, and hereby is declared to be, the seal of the United States.”  The motto inscribed on the seal became the unofficial motto of the U.S. until Congress adopted “In God We Trust” as the Nation’s official motto in 1956. U. S. coins today have both mottoes inscribed on them, one on each side. It is important to recognize that in the thinking of the Founders the emphasis was on the unity, “One”, not the diverse, “Many”.

It was not diversity that supplied the strength to build the most prosperous and powerful nation on earth. Our unity was, and is our strength. When we lose that unity, we become correspondingly weaker as a nation. Neither does our history support the proponents of multiculturalism and diversity. There were several other colonies on the North American continent at the time of the Revolution in 1776. The largely French speaking colonies of Canada did not join in the Revolution or in the formation of the new government, although the Articles of Confederation made provision for their inclusion. Of course, the Spanish speaking colonies to the south did not participate, leaving the thirteen English speaking colonies along the Atlantic Coast from Maine to Georgia with one culture, one language and one God. It was the unification of this group that was illustrated by the Great Seal.

In Matthew 12:25 Jesus spoke the self-evident truth that, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:”  That will be America’s fate, if we continue to allow the left’s efforts to divide us to succeed, as it has been doing for the last several decades. We must reject the ideas of multilingualism and multiculturalism if we are to regain the liberties we have lost and once again take control of our government. That does not mean that we should reject immigration or that we deny the many blessings of citizenship to the diverse sub-cultures that make up our society. It means that new immigrants and the positive elements of the sub-cultures must be assimilated into the overall American culture, as they were by our forefathers during the founding and expansion of America for the first four-hundred or so years of our existence. America is a nation of former immigrants who wished to become Americans. America afforded them the opportunity and encouragement to do just that, and we must do so again or we will be brought to “desolation” and “shall not stand” as a nation.

Happy IN-Dependence Day

Courtesy NetRight Daily

Why Congress May Lawfully Require Citizens to Buy Guns & Ammunition, But Not To Submit To Obamacare.

By Publius Huldah.

Harvard Law School was embarrassed recently when one of its graduates, the putative President of the United States, demonstrated that he was unaware that the supreme Court has constitutional authority to declare an act of Congress unconstitutional.1

And after reading a recent paper by Harvard law professor Einer Elhauge, one wonders whether the academic standards (or is it the moral standards?) of that once great school have collapsed.

Professor Elhauge says in “If Health Insurance Mandates Are Unconstitutional, Why Did the Founding Fathers Back Them?” (The New Republic, April 13, 2012), that Congress may force us to buy health insurance   because in 1792, our Framers required all male citizens to buy guns; and in 1798 required ship owners using U.S. ports (dock-Yards) to pay a fee to the federal government in order to fund hospitals for sick or disabled seamen at the U.S. ports.

Oh! What tangled webs are woven when law professors write about Our Constitution!

Read More…

California’s Big Chance

California once again has the chance to become a national leader instead of a national joke.

When Californians go to the polls on Tuesday, they will be voting on a ballot initiative to reform the primary election process in California.  The initiative, Proposition 14, will change the way candidates are selected to appear on the primary ballot and voters will be able to vote for any candidate they choose without regard to the party affiliations of either the candidate or the voter.

Supporters of the measure argue that it will lead to the election of more moderate candidates, ending the legislative deadlock caused by radical partisanship. Opponents argue that it will have the opposite effect, leading to domination of the voting process by “fat cats” and special corporate interest groups. The outcome Tuesday is far from certain, but in my opinion, it is an idea whose time has come and deserves to be considered by other states as well.

One of the major problems today is the domination of government and politics by “political bosses”. Loyalty to the “Party” has replaced loyalty to the Constitution and the people in the minds of too many elected officials. More often than not, it is the party establishment that determines the choices we have when we go to the polls in November. John McCain and Mark Kirk are two prime examples. Proposition 14 may not solve the problem, but it will help somewhat in breaking the hold political parties have gotten over the election process.

George Washington, in his farewell address warned about the dangers of “factions”.  Perhaps it was the two parties organized during his first term in office that he had in mind when he prepared his speech. The first political party was formed to strengthen the power of the central government and was soon followed by a second in opposition to it. Both parties faded away during the thirty-year dominance by republicans throughout the administrations of Jefferson, Madison, Monroe and J.Q. Adams only to be brought back with a vengeance by Andrew Jackson and the institutionalizing of the spoils system establishing party loyalty above merit.

Under Prop. 14 political parties would not nominate candidates, although they could still endorse, support or oppose candidates. All qualified candidates, regardless of party, would appear on a single ballot with the top two vote getters for each office advancing to the general election. Whether the candidate’s party affiliation would also appear on the ballot would be left to the discretion of the candidate. In theory, voters could vote for the one they believed was the best candidate for the job, regardless of party.

Needless to say, both parties are vehemently opposed to Prop. 14 which is perhaps the best proof of its merit.  If approved it would greatly diminish the influence and power of political parties over the legislative process. The end result would be that elected officials would once again be more beholden to their constituents than their party leadership. It seems to me that the proposition would result in more partisanship rather than less. However, the partisanship would be based on issues rather than party platforms, which is a good thing. Candidates would be trying to stake out a constituency for specific issues and not necessarily following the party line.

Proposition 14 does not effect the candidates for President and Vice President but it would effect the candidates for the Senate and House and all elected state offices. If successful, it could later be expanded to include the selection of electors without violating the Constitution.

You can read more on Prop 14 HERE and HERE

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What Oil and Wind Should Be Teaching Us

The Gulf oil spill and hurricane Katrina have an important message. Is anyone listening?

That pesky hole in the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico puts an exclamation point to a truth Washington politicians fail to understand and refuse to acknowledge. The powers of the Federal Government is limited, not only by the Constitution, but by the limitations of human capabilities as well. A person can become competent in a small number of subjects over a lifetime of experience and study.  However, very few can become experts in more than one or two. Being elected to public office does not change that basic truth. Washington simply does not have the expertise or competency necessary to solve every natural or man made problem the American people encounter.

It is not just the incompetence of the current Obama Administration. The size and reach of the federal government makes it incapable of solving or even controlling most of the major domestic issues facing America today, no matter who sits in the White House or serves in Congress; having the most incompetent administration and possibly the most incompetent Congress in our history only makes matters worse.

The Founders, whether by experience, knowledge, or intuition, understood this imperfection in human government when they laid out the plan for our own in the Constitution. They understood that a republican form of government, in order to be effective must be limited in the area and population governed. Thomas Jefferson mused to a friend, John Taylor, in an 1816 letter, “Such a government [pure republicanism] is evidently restrained to very narrow limits of space and population. I doubt if it would be practicable beyond the extent of a New England township”.

The larger the area and population governed, the more autocratic the government must be in order to maintain stability. The thirteen states that ratified the Constitution in 1788 had a population of less than 3 million people and covered less than 1 million sq. mi. Realizing that a nation that large could not be sufficiently governed by a central government while still protecting the liberties of its people, the Founders devised a plan limiting the national government to those issues that could only be adequately handled at the national level, leaving all others to the states. Today the United States has an estimated population of 309,000,000 people and covers an area of 3,537,455 square miles, making it the third largest nation on earth.

223 years of world history has demonstrated the wisdom of the Founders in designing a decentralized but cooperative government with an upside down power pyramid going from the people to the state to the federal. That is not to say that the Federal Government should have no role in dealing with catastrophes like the Gulf oil spill or hurricane Katrina but its role should be subordinate to the states involved. The huge overwhelming bureaucracies of the Federal Government with their cross currents of political intrigue and jurisdictional rivalry inhibit the rapid development and implementation of the solutions necessary to limit the damage and eventually stop the flow of oil into the Gulf, for example.

As our population continues to amass in ever-growing population centers, the potential for devastating natural or man made disasters increase. We will continue to have hurricanes, forest fires, floods, tornadoes, oil spills, and possibly terrorist attacks in the future. In these instances the role of the Federal government should be a role of assisting not directing. State and local authorities must have the primary responsibility and authority to implement an emergency response when necessary with the Federal Government supplying resources and manpower as needed and requested.

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