What is States’ Rights? Part 4
by Mike Crane
“Our Rights are like a cookie, no matter how big the cookie and how small the bites, eventually you run out of cookie”
In Part 1 of this series a concept was presented that runs a bit contrary to current public conception – that the term States’ Rights can be used more for partisan benefit than a true effort to protect the God-Given Rights of the people. Part 2 demonstrated that as early as 1801 incursions attacking American Liberty had already started and have continued to this day. Part 3 gave details on an obvious expansion of central government powers (authority) by legislative action.
Based on the definition (The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia ® Copyright © 2007) of federated government:
“ … The distribution of powers between the federal and state governments is usually accomplished by means of a written constitution, for a federation does not exist if authority can be allocated by ordinary legislation. …”
It should be obvious that despite all of the rhetoric we do not have a federated form of government at this point in time. The example in Part 3 was from the 1940’s and in the intervening years the expansion of central government powers has continued.
So the current cries for States’ Rights, nullification and emphasis on using the 10th Amendment, has two major problems:
1) It hasn’t worked for over 200 years, the 10th Amendment is not new – it was ratified in 1791;
2) In many cases it is just political rhetoric and when elected these politicians simply trample your God-Given Rights in a different manner, but trample them just the same!
Perhaps it is time to take a look at some of the reasons we have lost a federated form of government whose primary purpose is to protect your God-Given Rights!
If you do not understand what the cause of a problem is, it is unlikely that you will be able to fix it. Continuing what has failed for 200 years also is unlikely to fix the problem.
The remaining parts of this series will focus on specific causes, except for the last two; a conclusion and a summary. Many will not agree, few will dispute the facts.
Cause # 1: Americans are not united in wanting a federated government
Dating back to the colonial period, not all Americans have desired a federated form of government with true checks and balances and a primary purpose of guaranteeing your God-Given Rights. American Liberty has to accommodate multiple views if we truly believe in government by the consent of the governed.
As the Colonies approached the possibility of War with the English Crown aAlexander Hamilton sizeable number, if not a majority preferred compromising with the English Crown. At the first Continental Congress in 1774 the first plan of action was to request that the English Parliament establish a subordinate Colonial Parliament that could legislate on matters delegated by the English Parliament, subject to oversight.
This plan was defeated by one vote, with the colonies each having one vote. So in 1774 there was far less unity in the pursuit of Independence than many realize. Patrick Henry of Virginia was instrumental in his arguments against compromise and taking bolder steps which led to our War of Independence.
Immediately after forming the committee to write the Declaration of Independence, the Continental Congress began the process of forming a government to replace the English government. Some wanted to form a Monarchy, some wanted a federated form of government and others wanted a national government (such as Alexander Hamilton pictured above). On November 15, 1777, the Second Continental Congress submitted the Articles of Confederation to the Colonies for ratification.
The Articles were not ratified until March 1, 1781. The debate and acceptance of the Articles of Confederation was quite contentious, but resulted in a confederation of independent and sovereign States, which was a federated form of government. But it was far from a unanimous decision.
Throughout the history of our country there have been few issues that have come close to having the support of a super majority (2/3) and most major issues have been decided with much less support than a super majority.
Today our country remains deeply divided, perhaps more so than for many decades.
More on this subject later and why this one simple fact makes most potential solutions impossible.
Cause # 2: Misconceptions about original Constitution of 1787 (prior to Bill of Rights)
Based upon my experience, most proponents of a federated form of government believe that such was the intent of the Framers of the Constitution of 1787. The words “Founding Fathers” sometimes is used to reference the 55 Delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1787, even though only eight were signers of The Declaration of Independence.
I too – for most of my adult life – had such beliefs …
Much to my dismay and surprise I found that I had been wrong all of those years and those who currently have such a belief are wrong also.
There were two plans in front of the delegates. One was a federated form of government plan based upon proposing amendments to the Articles of Confederation to correct the mutually agreed problems. The other plan was for a completely new form of government – a plan for a “national” government.
On June 19, 1787, the delegates were completing the debate about which “plan” would be used as the model and working document for their report.
One plan was a federated form of government with shared sovereignty with the States; the other plan was for a national government.
The vote on June 19, 1787, was 7-3-1 in favor of the national government plan!!!
On June 19, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 voted to take the road toward a central government that would be supreme over the States and set the foundation for what now exists in our land.
Many – if not most – will disagree with Cause # 2 listed above and the previous sentence.
But if you do not understand the Constitutional Convention of 1787, you have little or no chance of ever working to implement a solution to the problems that we face today. Part 5 of this article series will continue with detailed information about the Constitutional Convention of 1787 that your countrymen did not know during the ratification process of 1787-88. The Notes on The Constitutional Convention were held in secret, sealed and unpublished until well after the ratification process had concluded …
To be continued …