EDITOR’S NOTE: We’re proud to announce the launch of our newest state chapter – the Kentucky Tenth Amendment Center!
by Michael Maharrey, Kentucky Tenth Amendment Center
Welcome to the Kentucky chapter of the 10th Amendment Center.
The principle is simple. It is not radical or extremist, nor should it be controversial. The founders of the United States clearly intended a federal government with defined and limited power. The bulk of governance was meant to happen at the state and local level.Â The 10th Amendment in the Bill of Rights reaffirms this principle in the simplest of language.
â€œThe 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.â€
Simple. Straight forward. No need for complicated exegesis or convoluted interpretation.
James Madison expanded the idea, writing in Federalist No. 45.
â€œThe 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 the last the power of taxation will for the most part be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all 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.â€
The foundation of our country was not laid on empty political theory. It was born from a deep understanding of the danger of concentrated power. As George Washington said, â€œGovernment is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.â€
Or as Gerald Ford put it some 200 years later, â€œA government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.â€
Most people intuitively understand that the danger of power increases at higher levels of government. Most citizens understand that state and local leaders are more accountable to those they represent at state and local levels. What does Nancy Pelosi care about the coal miner in eastern Kentucky? Kentuckians understand the potential tyranny of unbridled federal power. Our founders certainly understood and created a brilliant system to keep government power in check.
It takes only a quick scan of the news headlines to see that the current system of government in the United States bears little resemblance to what the framers of the Constitution intended.
In the 1990s, the American people cleaned house in Washington D.C. Republicans swept into power promising to limit government, slash spending, cut earmarks and reform government. Instead, â€œWe the Peopleâ€ got more of the same. More big spending. More federal programs. More favors for special interests. More expanding bureaucracy.
In 2008, Pres. Obama took office promising â€œhope and change.â€ Instead, he and the Democrats in power doubled down.
Clearly, to solution doesnâ€™t lie in sending different breeds of politician to Washington. Yes, we want to elect candidates to federal office who respect the Constitutional limits of their power. But we the people of Kentucky must insist, through our state government, that we will not accept any more unconstitutional governance from the feds. We must use our power to nullify unconstitutional law and render impotent federal power grabs. We must wean ourselves from the federal trough and stop allowing Washington to control Frankfort via a carrot and stick approach.
The process wonâ€™t be easy. The federal government has grown far beyond its intended role and years will likely pass before we can reestablish a proper balance. But we must start now. We must stand together as Kentuckians and fight for whatâ€™s best for the Commonwealth of Kentucky. We must demand our liberties and stand up for the Constitution that unites us as a nation.
It is up to us. We the People. Government serves us, not the other way around.
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