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Backlash of the Basics

By William Warren

“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.”
—Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution

A backlash of prodigious proportions is sweeping the nation, inching ever closer to a White House and Congress, both hell-bent on turning the United States into a dimly lit, dingy shanty on hill.

The backlash is about the basics. And it's basically about Constitutional safeguards—or, increasingly, the lack thereof.

One of those leading the charge and getting back to the basics—i.e., the fundamental principles of the American Republic itself—is Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK), an individual who has proven himself a fierce advocate for the US Constitution time and time again.

In what might, in a well-ordered world, be perceived as “well, duh” legislation, Senator Coburn recently introduced a bill requesting that Congress do one simple thing and one thing alone: simply explain how any action it undertakes is authorized by the Constitution. As the Senator said:


“A major reason why we are facing tough economic challenges is because Congress has ignored our founding documents which are designed to limit its role. Until we reconnect Congress with its limited and enumerated powers we will never put our nation back on a sustainable fiscal course. This bill is important because too many members of Congress believe they know best and no longer need to consult the document that is their foundational legal authority.”

In other, perhaps more blunt words: “What gives you the right?”

The request is as profound as it should be perfunctory.

Congress' right to do anything—and government's as well—is wholly derived from the U.S. Constitution. Moreover, any right not specifically delegated to Congress is reserved “to the States respectively, or the people.” This is known as the “Enumerated Powers Clause” as spelled out clearly by the 10th Amendment.

Nevertheless, it seems those in Washington can't read—or at least practice what the social scientists call selective perception—when it comes to their occasional perusal of the document each and every one of them once swore to support and defend.

Simply put, their actions go far beyond the limited purview granted in the Constitution. And not just via illegal means, but extralegal means as well.

Whether it's the creation of Government-sponsored enterprises like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac…the appointment of countless, unelected czars to do the unchecked bidding of the President…the administering (and dictating) of healthcare…or the swallowing up of private industries like General Motors—the Federal Government has overstepped its Constitutional bounds. The Federal Reserve wields power to make currency expressly granted to Congress under Article I, Section 8. Even such entities like the Department of Education, the FCC, and the various federal alphabet agencies are entities that, Constitutionally-speaking, are specifically “reserved to the States respectfully, or to the people.” (yes, I know I'm repeating myself, but Congress just can't seem to get it).

Fortunately, Dr. Coburn is not alone in his disgust for the ever-expanding, self-ordained role of the Federal Government—nor is the backlash limited to a few rebellious senators with a penchant for annoying liberals (a practice otherwise known as “supporting and defending the Constitution”).

Dozens of individual states have likewise taken steps to reassert their own 10th Amendment rights and state sovereignty. Among those that have introduced and/or passed resolutions telling the Federal Government to back off and get back to the basics are Massachusetts, North Carolina, Ohio, Minnesota, and Texas, to name a few.

It is essential that this sweeping nationwide backlash is seen for what it is: a unified resistance to the unprecedented expansion of government authority that the Obama Administration and the 111th Congress have ushered in.

It is by no means a sheer coincidence that 2009 has witnessed a shocking number of states—red, blue, and in-between—and countless individuals, rising up to declare their sovereignty as granted by the 10th Amendment of the Constitution.

Under normal circumstances, states and individuals wouldn't feel such a pressing need to reassert this pithy, 28-word paragraph of the U.S. Constitution. The circumstances today, however, are anything but normal. And that's why, in the eyes of a rapidly growing number of Americans, the collectivist, statist agenda of the Big Government powers in Washington is a real and direct threat to the very essence and mission of the United States—emphasis added.

Government has gotten too big.

Luckily, the backlash promises to be even bigger.

William Warren is a Contributing Editor of ALG News Bureau.


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