Is America one major corporation, with 50 branch offices spread across the land, or is she a system of franchises, each of which is separately “owned and operated”?
The federal government believes that America is the former. All policy decisions should be made in Washington, from energy to education to welfare to health care. The states are simply the implementation offices of those federal policies. They may be provided with some of the funding necessary to accomplish the implementation, at least for the start up period, but funded or not, their duty to implement what Washington mandates does not change.
An increasing number of states are beginning to insist that the proper model for governing America is the franchise. Washington has a limited and defined authority, but outside of those limits, the states should be determining and implementing policy. The voice of the states asserting this is still small, but it is growing.
The dissenting states cite the Tenth Amendment as their basis for disagreement with the federal corporation model. What exactly does the Tenth Amendment do?
The words are simple: 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.
It is often referred to as the State’s Rights Amendment. It is actually a declaration of a system of government. The key is in the last 3 words — “to the people”.
The men who wrote the Constitution understood the incredibly corrupting power of big government. So they developed a system to push power DOWN the ladder of power, putting decision-making authority in the lowest level of government that could actually make and carry out an effective decision.
Those last three words mirror the first words in the Constitution, “We, the People”. The intent is consistent –- the structure of the government should ensure that the voices of the people being governed are heard. For that to happen, the business of governing should be conducted as locally as possible.
A citizen can attend a local government meeting with minimal effort. He can visit his county officers as well. He can reach his state capital, visit his representative and senator there, and return home in the same day. But for most of the country, a visit to Washington is a major undertaking, so the average citizen does not ever make the trip. So the higher up on the ladder of power the decision-making rises, the less likely those in authority are to be visited by a citizen.
If that citizen does decide to speak out on an issue, the same backwards relationship between the voice of the citizen and the responsiveness of the government applies. At the local level, a citizen might be one of several hundred, but by the time we get to the US House of Representatives, that citizen is one of 360,000.
And if the citizen decides to get involved by running for office, the differences are almost overwhelming. She can successfully run for local office by visiting her neighbors one-on-one and listening to their concerns and suggestions, making government “by the people” a working reality. But at the federal level, the enormous amounts of money and media required today keep most citizens from even attempting the effort – concentrating power in the hands of an elite, and unresponsive, few.
If we truly want to return America to a system of government that respects and responds to American citizens, we need to embrace the totality of the Tenth Amendment, and insist that decision-making authority be moved down the ladder and back to us.