by Neal Ross

In 1922, D. H. Lawrence wrote, “Men fight for liberty and win it with hard knocks. Their children, brought up easy, let it slip away again, poor fools. And their grandchildren are once more slaves.

Most of America still is under the belief that we are a free and independent people. They couldn’t be more wrong. Their ignorance of how our system of government was designed to function, has allowed this fraud to be perpetrated upon the people by those who have been elected to safeguard our freedom and liberty. What makes it more sad is that the people, for the most part, are as apathetic as they are ignorant, they just don’t have the desire to learn the truth. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn.

The words liberty and freedom are tossed around so much that they have lost their meaning. Liberty is defined as, “The quality of state of being free: the power to do as one pleases.” Freedom is defined as, “The quality of state of being free: as the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action.

Thomas Jefferson once gave us his definition of liberty, “Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’ because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.

If we were truly free, why do we need to register our vehicles every year just so that we have the privilege of driving to and fro? Why do we need to register ourselves when we buy a gun for our own protection, and why can’t we carry that gun on our persons without a permit? Why do we need to obtain a hunting or fishing license just to partake of the bounty that God has given us for meat? Why do we need a permit to add to or remodel our homes? Why do we need a permit to peaceably assemble to protest the actions of our government?

We definitely are not free, as there are constraints placed upon almost everything we do. When our founders got together and drafted our Constitution, our freedom and liberty were the guiding factors in establishing our system of government. What they came up with was a finely crafted system that delegated certain powers to the federal government, and left the rest up to the states, or to the people, as 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.

The tenth amendment clearly states that whatever powers not delegated to the government are left to the states, or the people, but it also has a sister amendment that many seem to have forgotten, or ignored. The ninth amendment to the Constitution states, “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” What that means is that, just because the Constitution does not specifically state a right, that does not mean we do not still retain it.

I don’t know if all of you have ever tinkered with mechanical objects, but when I worked in power plants there was an old saying we used to have, “Don’t mess with it if it is working fine.” That saying should apply to our Constitution as well. It was designed to grant the government the limited powers to manage our country, while leaving the states to manage themselves. The Congress was established to give the states a certain say in Congress by way of the two Senators chosen by the state legislatures, and giving the people their say by way of their elected members of the House of Representatives.

This simple plan made sure that the states were equal partners in all legislation passed by the federal government, as their Senators, knowing that they could be recalled by the states at any time, kept the best interest of the state in mind. That all changed with the seventeenth amendment which gave the people the power to choose their Senators, stripping the state of its equal say in Congress.

The Federal government has, over time, become the master of all. Laws have been passed that infringe upon our liberties. Laws have been passed that make the states subservient to the federal government. Laws have been passed that exceed, or overstep the authority granted them by the Constitution.

The reason for this, I believe, can be found in something contained in the Minority Report, 1956, by H. L. Mencken, “Most people want security in this world, not liberty.” In other words, we would rather be taken care of, than to maintain our liberty, and be responsible for our own success or failure. For along with liberty comes the daunting word, responsibility. As Pearl Buck once said, “We need to restore the full meaning of that old word, duty. It is the other side of rights.” I feel that people fear that more than anything else, the responsibility for your own actions. Erica Jong said it best, “Take your life in your own hands, and what happens? A terrible thing: no one to blame.

People have allowed their government to infringe upon their rights and liberties because they feel safer with the government in charge. However, as Benjamin Franklin said, “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

There is an inherent trait among people, however, that our government seems to have neglected to consider, that people will only be pushed around for so long before they begin to push back. Could our government have reached the point now that people are beginning to push back?

There are a certain number of states, among them being, Arizona, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, and even Hawaii, have filed, or are considering filing, resolutions re-declaring their sovereignty to the Federal Government, as defined in the tenth amendment.

From the Washington state resolution, we read, “NOW, THEREFORE, Your Memorialists respectfully resolve: That the State of Washington hereby claims sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over all powers not otherwise enumerated and granted to the federal government by the Constitution of the United States…”

Are these states taking the first baby steps towards returning to the concept of a limited federal government, or is this all for show? Only time will tell. Will the states protect and defend their citizens when the Federal Government comes after them for violating

any of its numerous unconstitutional laws? Will the states protect their citizens if they refuse to pay their federal income taxes? More importantly, will the states stop accepting federal funds, which continue to put them in the awkward position of having to cave in to federal demands, just to keep the cash coming in? These are all things that time will tell. One can only be hopeful that the states have finally had enough of the monster that lives in D.C.

Me, I am a bit more pessimistic. I do not think the general populace knows what is going on, nor do they care. I am of the mind to agree with Einstein, who said, “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe”

Too many people today just don’t want to take the time to find out how our government was supposed to work. Due to their ignorance the statement made by Thomas Paine is even more relevant, “A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right.”

However, let us not forget the words of George Mason, “In all our associations; in all our agreements let us never lose sight of this fundamental maxim – that all power was originally lodged in, and consequently is derived from, the people.”

Until we see whether the states will back their words with action, I leave you with the words of Goethe, who said, “None are so hopelessly enslaved as those who falsely believe they are free.”

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.”



Featured Articles

On the Constitution, history, the founders, and analysis of current events.

featured articles


Tenther Blog and News

Nullification news, quick takes, history, interviews, podcasts and much more.

tenther blog


State of the Nullification Movement

232 pages. History, constitutionality, and application today.

get the report


Path to Liberty

Our flagship podcast. Michael Boldin on the constitution, history, and strategy for liberty today

path to liberty


maharrey minute

The title says it all. Mike Maharrey with a 1 minute take on issues under a 10th Amendment lens. maharrey minute

Tenther Essentials

2-4 minute videos on key Constitutional issues - history, and application today


Join TAC, Support Liberty!

Nothing helps us get the job done more than the financial support of our members, from just $2/month!



The 10th Amendment

History, meaning, and purpose - the "Foundation of the Constitution."

10th Amendment



Get an overview of the principles, background, and application in history - and today.