WE often hear from fiscally conservative national politicians that the federal budget is out of control, that we can no longer afford all of the spending and entitlement and discretionary programs and we certainly can’t afford for them to keep growing every year. We are $17 trillion in debt and the country will dissolve into bankruptcy, and then just plain dissolve, within a generation or so.
All of that is probably true, and the practical, albeit political, solution to those woes would be for the federal government to quit involving itself, indeed to embark on some major reversals, in those things which the Constitution of the United States of America does not specifically grant them the authority to impose on the several states, or on The People. (Holding breath……waiting for a change of attitude…..turning blue …..)
The Constitution says that those laws passed by the Congress of the United States are supreme throughout the land, superior to and dismissive of any individual State laws or initiatives. But there is a caveat in the “supremacy clause” of Article VI which many advocates skim over over when they insist laws passed by Congress supercede anything a State Legislature may do. They do so in hopes that the public, and politicians, will be persuaded that some issue or issues are rightful prerogatives of the feds:
This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.
The caveat emboldened above is that the laws passed by Congress have to be “in pursuance of”, meaning they must conform to, the Constitution. That means that said laws must fall under the enumerated powers granted to the Congress, specifically in Article I.
Now, without going into a long-winded rehash of all the scholarly debates and litigation and Supreme Court decisions and “settled law” and slanted interpretations of the Commerce Clause and the Ninth and Tenth and Fourteenth and all the other relevant Amendments, we will just state that there is a lot of hot air on all ideological fronts about what the Feds can and cannot do, but there is almost universal agreement that the Federal Government has insinuated itself in one way or another into every detail of American life; if not the most intimately private, of which there are fewer and fewer areas these days, then certainly to all public aspects. One would be hard-pressed to come up with a single concern of civil society in America that the Feds are not considered a cognizant authority in matters of, in whole or in part.
- there is near universal agreement that “we” can’t afford as a nation to provide everything to everybody, that continuing to fund everyone’s pet programs is impossible,
- a clear majority of members of Congress sent there by The People insist that there is a federal role to play in all of the matters of everyone’s daily lives, and “we the people” can’t convince them otherwise,
- something has to give.
What has to give just might be those things peculiar to individual States which are involved with the same things that the Federal Government is involved in, which are of course those everyday matters of civil society, extending even unto the very personal and mundane. Those peculiar things would be State Legislatures. In the 21st century, they are redundant.
State Legislatures provide for State Departments of Health. We have a Federal Department of Health. Indeed it goes so far as to add “Human Services” to it’s area of expertise. We have a federal Department of Education. We cannot afford to have State Departments of Education, and all the legislators who presume to concern themselves with educating citizens of the individual states, and at the same time have that function duplicated at the Federal Level. So since the Feds are Supreme, not because they really are but because they say they are and everybody just goes along with it, the state function, and those people elected and paid to provide for it, including raising taxes and other functions in support of it, needs to be abolished.
We could press the point even to include the police powers of a state, since all local and county or parrish jurisdictions have inherent police functions and all statewide policing matters can, and very often do, involve federal agencies such as DHS, FBI, United States Attorney’s and sprawling federal courts.
Let’s let our imaginations run wild. There is no limit to the number of people and programs that are redundant at the state level. The functionaries, the administrators and the office and clerical and field support people at the state level may be needed, just federalized to provide the bodies: still, the individual legislators are unnecessary. They are redundant, passe’, no longer needed. They are so-o-o-o-…….yesterday.
If there are a few remaining voids to be filled when State laws and lawmakers are relegated to the dustbin of history, for example sanctions against crimes like petty burglary and such, the Federal Legislature is more than competent to pass new laws making things crimes in each and every state.
The federal government already controls individual states’ lakes, rivers and streams, as well as their energy production schemes. What’s left? Roads? Heh. In our own Hoosier State, INDOT could become FEDDOT in a heartbeat. We already get federal “incentives” and “grants” to do things “the national way”.
So. We may as well get started. Let’s abolish State Legislatures, and send State Legislators packing to the hinterlands. Their services are no longer required.
“Whoa! Not so fast!” says Indiana State Senator David Long, R-Ft. Wayne. Senator Long apparently is fearful of becoming redundant, as he has proposed that state legislators from all across the US meet with him (ironically in close proximity to Washington, DC) to explore the possibility of limiting the reach and overreach of …….Washington, DC.
Senator Long may be several decades too late in his quest to avoid being redundant as a state legislator, though some would argue better late than never. There is of course much debate over the feasibility, propriety, safety and effectivity of pursuing the so-called Article V Convention that Long wants to discuss at Mt. Vernon. See for example here and here. To date, the enthusiasm for having state legislatures consider bypassing the traditional US Congress-proposed Amendments to the Constitution and use the alternative method referenced in Article V, has come from the right side of the aisle. Perhaps the constitutional conservatives advocating for a popular initiative coming from redundant state legislators are hoping that the liberals, leftists and Establishment Republicans will be too busy tending to the affairs of the everyday citizen to notice a subversive movement going on in plain sight, or that it will be so well orchestrated that it cannot be hijacked or thwarted by the reigning Statist autocracy. Since it has never been tried before, there is no basis to predict the outcome.
But in any event, the overture by Senator Long is at least a milestone, or a beginning of …..something. As Jeff Lord, of The American Spectator notes:
It will be interesting to see what happens. But without a doubt the very fact that a serious and influential state legislator has set about the task of, as Levin says, “Restoring the American Republic” is a sign that serious people in the right places are beginning to act.
We don’t know much about Sen. Long, or how “serious” he is. He may be a serious constitutionalist, of the Indiana type and/or the US type. He may be serious about the restoration of liberty and the founding principles. Or he may seriously not want to be discovered as being redundant. But on second thought, while we earlier mocked his choice of meeting place – Mount Vernon – it may just be that Senator Long is utilizing the symbolism of that sacred place in American history to signal that he understands the true meaning and architecture of our federal system of government in These United States. We sincerely hope so.
Crossposted at Grumpy Opinions