by Rick Montes
There seems to be a bit of confusion of what it means to be a Constitutionalist or supporter of the Tenth Amendment (Both go hand in hand) and a Conservative. Let me explain my definition of both.
A Constitutionalist and Tenth Amendment supporter believe that the U.S. Constitution is arguably the greatest political document man could devise. Sure, the Articles of Confederation were also a great document, in fact the ConventionÂ delegates that gave us the current Constitution were technically meetingÂ only to revise the Articles. With that said, we support the United States Constitution wholeheartedly and want those elected to Federal office to abide by it. Unfortunately, they stopped many, many years ago.
What does supporting the Constitution mean? Many people who call themselves “Conservative” have rebuked us for betraying conservative principles ie… Gun Rights, Abortion, Homosexual Marriage, Drugs and prayer in school to name a few.
If you are a federal office holder andÂ “Conservative”, you should always defend the Second Amendment, look to overturn Roe v. Wade, vote for theÂ Marriage Amendment andÂ absolutely be in favor of the War on Drugs. This is what a Conservative is conserving, right?
What if I told you that the Federal government has no business what-so-ever getting involved in these issues? That the Bill of Rights is intended as a limitation on the power of the FEDERAL government ONLY, not the states, and that any federally elected person, conservative or not, that votes in favor of laws that interfere with these things is breaking their oath to support and defend the U.S. Constitution.
What would you say?
The Founding Fathers debated this issue quite thoroughly. There were many in attendance who wished to have us become a consolidated, national government. James Madison repeatedly tried to grant the federal government the power to negate all state laws. He was soundly defeated each time.
In the end we were given a Federal Republic that was made up of individual sovereign states. These states delegated limited and enumerated powers to the federal government. To be certain that there was no mistake, they had the Tenth Amendment added: “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.”
Couldn’t be much clearer – if it’s not in the Constitution, it’s left for the states or the people to decide.
Yet today, so called conservatives want the federal government involved in myriads of everyday-life activities. Take the Second Amendment for example. I am an avid gun collector and shooter. You will be hard pressed to find anyone more “Pro-Gun” than me.Â I believe that the Federal government has no right to tell me if I can own a firearm or not. They have no right to dictate to my state or it’s citizens (unfortunately, they don’t need too) on whether or not I can own a machine gun, suppressor, high capacity magazine, bayonet or any other accessories. They have no right to tell me I can’t purchase a firearm from one state and have it shipped to mine without a federal license.
However, the Supreme Court and the Federal government also have no right to tell my state that they MUSTÂ or must not allow concealed handguns or any other weapon. You see, the federal government must stay out of things that don’t concern them. The Second Amendment remember, is part of the Bill of Rights, which in turn limits the FEDERAL government ONLY.
Just imagine if all these rules and regulations were left where they belong, in the states. Granted, you may not like your states rules and regulations, here in the Peoples Republic of New York, they are horrendous. We are one of the greatest welfare states in the union. However,Â I would much rather fight local politicians to have these laws overturned than have to fight against a politician from California or Massachusetts.
If you allow these laws in your state and don’t fight to repeal them, shame on you. You could always move to a pro-freedom state.
The same with Marriage. If the people of your state want to allow Homosexual marriages, which I am against on moral grounds, so be it. Either fight to repeal it or move. How dare the Federal government and Nancy Pelosi tell me and my neighbors that I have to have Homosexual marriage or not.
Abortion? Same thing, I am against it, however, if you are not willing to effect change in your own state, how dare you tell others how to run their lives. Prayer in school? If my neighborhood school wants to say a prayer each morning to thank God, who is some atheist in New Jersey to say we cannot?
How dare anyoneÂ expect the federal government to act like a bully and force change in your neighborhood whether you want it or not. The Supreme Court? They once decided that African Americans were property! Yeah, I’ll trust their decisions.
The lesson here is simple. The federal government was delegated certain enumerated powers from the people of the several states. Everything else is left to those states to decide forÂ themselves. Whether they want school prayer, the death penalty, abortions, medical marijuana or machine guns.
True “conservatives” should be fighting to conserve these principles. We are all on the same side. We agree on most issues and fighting amongst ourselves only allows the Frankenstein Monster we call the federal government to run ram shod over our individual freedoms.
As Benjamin Franklin was reported to have said, “If we don’t hang together, most assuredly we will all hang separately.”
Rick Montes [send him email] is the state chapter co-coordinator of the New York Tenth Amendment Center