A government of enumerated powers

The Tenth Amendment is a bit out of fashion these days.  It states: “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.”

In light of the High Court’s evaluation of President Obama’s signature health care law, it is worth mentioning that the Tenth Amendment should have an important place in Twenty-First Century America.  The federal government has to have limits.  This isn’t simply a question of the separation of powers between the branches of the federal government.  This is a question as to how much power we the people will have through the local governments that we interact with most.  How much should they control verses Washington D.C.?

In any given month, we can attend a meeting where our state representatives will be present.  We can find city council members shopping at our local Wal-Mart.  These people are accessible and accountable.  These are the people that should be making some of the most important governmental decisions that will touch our lives.

The same cannot be said for Washington D.C. politics.  In Virginia, we will never be able to hold California politicians liable for infringing on our rights.  Nancy Pelosi pushed this bill through but will never feel the impact of it on Virginians.

The health care overhaul is a great example as to why the federal government should be restrained.  America is expansively diverse.  Many of the most prominent worldwide cultures originate in America.  Even within American, the values of the North are not the values we hold dear in the south.  Midwestern values differ greatly from coastal values.  When the federal government intervenes in telling our teachers how to teach, our employers how to succeed, our churches what is right and wrong and we, as citizens what products we must buy — we are going to have major problems.

The Tenth Amendment is the message from the Founders to us that Washington D.C. cannot do whatever they want to do.  The enumerated powers doctrine should be coupled with every other federal power to restrict the government.  Whether it is preserving health care freedom from the left or preserving privacy and due process rights from the right.  We all have a vested interest in ensuring that our government is not all powerful.

If the government is allowed to mandate the purchase of products simply because we live and breath, there really is no philosophical boundaries that the government can not exceed.  George W. Bush exceeded the boundaries of the Constitution through the wiretapping of American citizens and violations of Due Process.  Barack Obama has disregarded our freedom to choose to buy or not to buy a product and has ordered the assassination of an American citizen without Due Process of law.

Protecting our common rights isn’t a partisan issue.  Democrats should be just as willing to set aside the mandate as republicans.  As we see our rights shrinking, we can all agree that it isn’t just the left or the right’s rights that are being restricted.  It is every American’s rights that are under fire and every American’s rights that must be protected.