Progressivism And The 10th Amendment - Part 3

The Knife Gets Yielded

Something To Sooth Your Nerves As You Read

Give Them Fish, Don't Teach Them How To Fish

I have created a different environment as we move forward with our discussion, Parts 1 and 2 are available on my profile page for our late arrivals. We'll play something soothing in the background this session as you digest the content. Hope you don't mind. So if you haven't done so, hit the play button to add some ambiance. I have asked my friend, Professor Stu From Vermont, to write an in depth Hub on Progressivism and we'll see what the result is. Right Stu?

During the late 19th century, progressivism started to rear its ugly head which further trampled the 10th Amendment. What it basically encompasses is social engineering. Some of the more famous names associated with the movement were Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson. The latter we will discuss later. Teddy was a Rough Rider, Wilson was generally despised and there are mixed reviews on FDR. Where the tentacles of progressivism started to really extend themselves was during FDR's reign. If you want to read backwards to Wilson and Teddy then please allow yourselves that leisure.

The Great Depression though, historically, is attributed to the policies of none other than Woodrow Wilson, and his fellow progressive in the form of FDR inherited those problems. It might be interesting to compare our current situation, though not quite as dire, with the reasons surrounding the course of history that was taken. During the Great Depression the economy turned sour, many people lost their source of income and couldn't find other employment and FDR and Congress took the lead creating many programs to try to get the economy moving again. It is known as "The New Deal." but it was the beginning of a raw deal.

What occurred was that many of the citizens became employees of the federal government via the WPA. Sound familiar with the growth of the federal bureaucracy growing by 17% under the current administration? The people had "HOPE" and looked to the federal government to solve their problems for them. Any of this ringing a bell yet? Up stepped the federal government totally discarding the 10th Amendment and the states playing the primary role of interacting with the people. Down went the states' former purview of regulating agriculture, manufacturing of good and services, labor unions and a myriad of functions that formerly were reserved to the states. The 10th Amendment was sent to the corner to serve its penance. The federal government became the only game in town.

How was this achieved in light of what the US Constitution stipulates? It came about through the use of three separate clauses, and their interpretation, of the founder's masterpiece. The three clauses are the Commerce Clause, the Taxing and Spending Clause and last, but obviously not least, the Necessary and Proper Clause. Article I of the Constitution contains the specifics and can be read here (NOTE: Line strikes indicate changes made):

Under the Commerce Clause, Congress was granted the power to: "regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes."

The progressives stepped on this clause to the extent that, over time, intrastate (within a state) is subject to federal regulation. That is a direct violation of the 10th Amendment.

Next up was the Tax and Spending Clause which states: "The Congress shall have Power to lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States."

That allows Congress to tax the people and use the proceeds anyway it sees fit. I don't agree with that situation in view of what the Constitution says the role of the federal government is but it has been given a very broad interpretation since FDR sat in the hot seat. This led to the practice of the federal government placing stipulations on the states about receiving tax dollars back for healing the federal line. in effect a form of legalized bribery. You do this or you don't get this sort of thing. Not exactly how the Founding Fathers would have seen the role of a national authority.

The Necessary and Proper Clause can be found in Article I, Section 8, Clause 18 and reads as follows:

"The Congress shall have power to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof."

This clause if also sometimes known as the Basket Clause, Elastic Clause and the Sweeping Clause. At the time of ratification is was a very contentious clause. The Anti-Federalists saw it as the granting of unlimited and boundless power. Hamilton, a Federalist, argued that the clause would only allow the execution of the powers delineated to the federal government in the US Constitution. It went back and forth with Patrick Henry, during the Virginia Ratifying Convention, hitting the nail on the head. He stated that the inclusion of the clause would result in unlimited federal power with the inevitable trampling of individual liberty.

In light of what we see today in our federal government, I reckon I'd be called an Anti-Federalist by anyone's standard and I happen to agree with Patrick Henry's conclusion as it has now come to past.

The progressives tendency is to marry up the Proper and Necessary with the Commerce Clause to empower the federal government to become the controller of our lives and individual liberty be damned. If it's good for you, they know and you do not. The New Deal relied heavily on this clause to enact legislation that let the federal overstep its bounds and enter into the world of interstate commerce rather than what the US Constitution delineates as its actual authority. That being to regulate intrastate commerce.

Back in 1926, the Supreme Court helped the progressives along concerning the 18th Amendment which no longer exists - Prohibition. They used the the Necessary and Proper clause to uphold that amendment which ultimately proved so unpopular that it was repealed.

Then along came Franklin D. Roosevelt who was a progressive's progressive. He took it upon himself, in the name of saving us from ourselves, to totally trample the 10th Amendment. He saw it as totally usueless because he was a Democratic "big government" guy. The government was the answer, not the problem. It turns out quite differently though over time. He also had a packed Supreme Court to assist him in exercising that agenda.

From the period of 1933 through 1938 he used every trick in the book to achieve his end of "central economic planning" by the federal government. The guise was to give work to the unemployed, in many cases "make work,' reforming business and financial matters and using government stimulus in order for the economy to recover. Many progressives today will swear up and down that FDR was the Messiah of that time period. Generally though, the majority of historians see it a bit differently. All those policies really weren't doing to much to help an economy in desperate straits.

I side with historians about the real reason that The Great Depression was cured and that was our entrance into World War II after we were attacked at Pearl Harbor. Now that event put a heck of a lot of people back to work. That's not to say that we need another event like that to pull us out of the predicament that Progressives seem to be so able to get us into. The founders wanted the role of the federal government to be LIMITED, not expansive into every aspect of an American's life. They don't need to save us from ourselves. The opposite effect occurs where we need to save ourselves from them.

Nowhere in the US Constitution does it authorize the federal government to have the authority to become a "central economic" planner. If it is there, please show it to me. That is no more than a power grab. Think about the various forms of government that believe in "centralized planning." Give that some serious thought while you're thinking. What the 10th Amendment says is:

"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."

Next up will be Lyndon B. Johnson, another progressive thinker, who took it more than a notch up with his creation of "The Great Society." We now are experiencing the after effects of those policies and his further trampling of the 10th Amendment. Please stay tuned.

As Always,

The Frog Prince

Part 1 of the series can be found here:

Part 2 can be found here:

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Comments 26 comments

Old Poolman profile image

Old Poolman 5 years ago from Rural Arizona

FP - This was a great history lesson, and it explains a great deal about why we are in the position we are in today. The ongoing cry from the left is Bush did it, but I see now it started long before either Bush was president of this country. I hope and pray we can get this message out to all the citizens of this great nation. Thanks for writing this.

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

There is a lot of interest lately in Calvin Coolidge because he did nothing about a recession and it went away on its own. If only Hoover had done that than FDR might not have had one to play around with.Voted up and useful.

Old Poolman profile image

Old Poolman 5 years ago from Rural Arizona

Doing nothing and hoping it goes away has a familiar ring to it.

The Frog Prince profile image

The Frog Prince 5 years ago from Arlington, TX Author

OP - Progressivism started rearing its ugly little head back in the late 1800's. The Democratic Party has now been totally hijacked by this movement. I'm going somewhere with this so stay with me.

dahoglund - Economics and the ups and downs involved runs in cycles. That's pretty well known. If you ever study Keysean economics you will see where some of the root of the problem lies. Government intervention into the economy, especially one based on capitalism, can be disastrous, stifle growth and cause the many serious problems we face. This administration has given a whirl at it and it failed now as it always does. Government isn't the answer to our problems, it is the problem as Reagan was fond of pointing out.

Stay tuned and the next step is LBJ himself.

The Frog

tom hellert profile image

tom hellert 5 years ago from home


liberalism/progressivism is more than an ideology its a disease...


The Frog Prince profile image

The Frog Prince 5 years ago from Arlington, TX Author

tom - There is a difference between being a liberal and being a progressive. There should be a difference between being a Democrat and being a Progressive but the lines of distinction have become blurred.

Harlan Colt profile image

Harlan Colt 5 years ago from the Rocky Mountains

Jim a couple of the leftist sore thumbs that stick out here...

"The 10th Amendment was sent to the corner to serve its penance. The federal government became the only game in town.

The progressives stepped on this clause to the extent that,

over time, intrastate (within a state) is subject to federal

regulation. That is a direct violation of the 10th Amendment.

Nowhere in the US Constitution does it authorize the federal

government to have the authority to become a "central economic" planner."

I believe what too many folks in office do not understand is the actual role of the Constitution over our country.(If they do understand, then they are a domestic enemy)

We the People by ordianing the Constitution - created the government. We created it and gave our servants janitorial duties. The constitution defines the powers we "lent" to our servants and the powers we forbid them to take.

This is the also the HIGHEST LAW of the LAND and is UNCHANGEABLE and NON-NEGOTIABLE.(Unless you get 3/4ths of the states to ratify, or treaties with other nations)

Congressmen and Presidents who violate this are breaking the highest law of the land, breaking their oath and rebelling against government. Personally, I think they should get life in prison for such treason.

If you and I do that, we most likely go to jail.

When they do that, it either stands or has to go through

an ongoing legal process while they proceed to wield unruly powers and screw the nation over along the way.

Until we elect people who will enact laws to further protect the Constitution and enforce severe punishment to those who violate it, we will slowly loose our rights. The janitors are overthrowing the CEO and taking control of the company while the sheeple trudge through little Lost Hooverville to find the soup line and wonder what happened.

You want to see civil disobedience, treason and outright rebellion, look no farther than the servants we send to Washington. Jefferson supported out right public hangings for Constitutional treason.

I have in my files somewhere, a 1934 picture of a judge still in his robe who was taken from the court room by the local sheriff and marched to the city square where they made him kneel and kiss the American flag. Then the angry mob beat him half to death and left him laying in the street. What did the judge do? He failed to rule in favor of the Constitution.

I don't advocate violence against our public servants, but a good long prison sentence breaking big rocks into little rocks would send a strong message. I'd be happy with just tossing them out of office with a criminal record. Right now, our public servants have no fear of repercussion. They live like some pigs are better than other pigs (Animal Farm). A servant is just that - a servant - and should serve accordingly or get out.

What the hell do they take an oath of office for if they have no intention to keep it? A formality?

- Harlan

Old Poolman profile image

Old Poolman 5 years ago from Rural Arizona

Harlan, unfortunately the oath of office now translates to the following:

I will proudly sit in this chair and make myself wealthy beyond my wildest dreams no matter what it takes. I will sell my soul if necessary to accomplish this goal. If I can last for at least two years I can retire with a healthy pension and benefits. I could care less what is best for the citizens who elected me as my goals are entirely selfish.

WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Progressives view the Constitition as printed on a rubber sheet, to be twisted so it will mean what they want it to mean.

God Help us if liberals ever become the SCOTUS majority.

Harlan Colt profile image

Harlan Colt 5 years ago from the Rocky Mountains


Amen to that. After I posted above, I remembered the difference between the Corporate UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, and the non-corporate United States of America. The government now operates as a corporation and when you get a birth certificate or drivers license you are registered as a sub-corporation. This completely changes the rules and why you go to court for a victimless offense and the judge can disallow you to quote any law or even the Constitution in your defense - and get away with it. They moved out from under Constitutional courts for Administrative, Maritime and Magistrate systems, all which can apply the Constitution or ignore it on the judges discretion - despite their oath to the contrary.

I had a friend last week go to state court and started to quote a state law that showed they had no right to charge him in the first place. The prosecutor objected to the evidence and the judge sustained. The judge would not allow him to speak or present the evidence of his defense to the jury. He was not allowed to quote a state law in a state court.

How does that work? And where is the justice in that?

Its now guilty before proven innocent. I was once fined $180 for a dog at large that wasn't even mine. I talked to the prosecutor and he told me the only way he would play ball was if I paid the fine or went to jail - so that a trail by jury could be scheduled. I was given two choices, plead guilty and pay the fine or voluntarily go to jail. Being late for work I plead guilty having no idea it was $180 fine. When I plead guilty, I said, "Your honor this is not even my dog." He looked at me and said, "well ya dummy, what did you plead guilty for?" I said cause the prosecutor said I had to go to jail to plead innocent to get my case heard." The judge said, "I didn't hear that." Then he got up and walked out. I had to pay the fine anyway.

Taxation through corrupt legal process - sounds about right to me.

- Harlan

JT Walters profile image

JT Walters 5 years ago from Florida

Wow you should read my hub. My family worked for nine or maybe ten presidents including but not to Theodore Roosevelt and FDR. But my family was originally appointted by Rutherford B. Hayes. We did serve as Rough Riders and we are still all lnked 100 years later. I don't think I would say anything negative about the Rough Ridersas they were the first vulunatry military of mixed races many of whom were former slaves newly emanicipated that fought ot free fellow slaves. Rough Riders were doctors and lawyers and many of them paid the unltimate price with their lives fighting in Cuba and Florida.

Bushes do own a lot of the blame for the last 25 yers in politics. That can't be denied.

If you call giving everyone the right to vote and participate in government progressive and a flt tax across all Americans not just the wealthy progressivism well yes. But the idea back in 1900 was to include everyone in this nation and it not be a cast system which it was. I see you fail to mention the sweat shops in New York and all the child labor at the turn of the century which is taxation without representation. Wealth has to be redistributed or government can't function. There will be no security. No armies and no info structure. Besides Bush Sr raised taxes with his famous "Read My Lips...No More Taxes." Really you would believe a Bush? They'll tax you to death as well. Under FDR things do get better economically for the country. Actually they got much better and it was just in time for WWII. And I am not a FDR fan per se.

Bushes were liberal and so was Reagan. I can't really think fo a conservative president or even a candidate maybe Goldwater.

The Frog Prince profile image

The Frog Prince 5 years ago from Arlington, TX Author

JT Walters - You make some incorrect asumptions. I suggest you go do some research and find out about progressives and their agenda. It has very little to do with anything you are spouting off about.

In the future, stay on topic. That's the only warning I will give you about commenting on my Hubs. Bush has nothing to do with the subject at hand and neither does much else you have to say here.

The Frog

Ms Dee profile image

Ms Dee 5 years ago from Texas, USA

Excellent, Frog! Our boat started sinking long ago. So it seems it started with Wilson really getting duped? Will be interesting to see what Stu comes up with and your next on LBJ. Your fellow anti-federalist. Yes, LBJ went so extreme he went wacky...see my hub on him and JFK!

Stu From VT 5 years ago

Hi Frog,

Thanks for the reminder.

While a solid case will be tricky to make, as lack of records and conflicting court decisions muddy the matter, my best understanding at this point is that the fundamental root of progressivism lies in illegal activism based on violation of enumerated powers. These violations appear to be based on three non-constructionist misinterpretations of constitutional Articles:

(1) Interstate Commerce Clause - The originalist meaning of the ICC is murky, but it is unlikely that the Founders intended to give the federal government blanket authority over interstate commerce. This would render the enumerated powers clause moot in regard to all business matters, because all businesses, even intrastate ones, make use of out-of-state sourced production inputs. Some have argued that the ICC was an early form of antitrust law, intended to prevent things like contiguous states forming cartels in agricultural products. If this is true, then vast portions of DC are patently illegal (Commerce Dept., Dept. of Agriculture, Dept. of Energy, the EPA, the FCC, the FDA, etc.).

(2) General Welfare Clause - The case here is whether the GWC is properly construed as a restriction on enumerated powers, or an expansion of it. The republican camp (Jefferson and Madison) saw it as a restriction (i.e., an enumerated power may only be exercised by the federal government if it does not harm the general welfare). The federalist camp (Hamilton) viewed it as an expansion (i.e., the federal government may exercise a power as long as it is enumerated in the Constitution, or it promotes the general welfare). The courts, over time, have progressively (no pun intended) supported the federalist viewpoint, but this of course does not mean that such interpretations comport with the overall weight of framer intent.

(3) Necessary and Proper Clause - Exactly the same comments as for the General Welfare Clause.

I will produce a Hub on this, but absence of debate records and other records will probably make absolute proof of any position impossible. The best that can probably be hoped for is an argument based on what was most likely the originalist intent behind the constitutional Articles that appear to have been misinterpreted by the progressive movement.


The Frog Prince profile image

The Frog Prince 5 years ago from Arlington, TX Author

Stu - I think I had asked you to work up something outlining what is is relating to the political philosophy of the progressive movement. People keep criss crossing liberalism and progressivism.

Dave Mathews profile image

Dave Mathews 5 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

Froggie: I love the music as I am reading this and responding with my comment. I find your opening statement makes no sense. If you teach someone how to fish, they will always be able to cathc fish and feed themselves, but feeding them fish once does nothing to help them it only makes you an enabler and the rely on you to repeat your generosity.

The Frog Prince profile image

The Frog Prince 5 years ago from Arlington, TX Author

Dave - It was intentional. That's the mind set of the enabler. Just give it to them so they can keep them dependent with their hands out for more.

Dave Mathews profile image

Dave Mathews 5 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

Gottcha! Ha Ha Ha! Thanks.

The Frog Prince profile image

The Frog Prince 5 years ago from Arlington, TX Author

Friends and Readers - I try to be fair with other users and issue a warning about staying on topic. No one cares about your personal family history. This is a series of history lessons I began some time back. So lets try to adhere to the rules as I apply them withing Hub pages rules.

They give me the ability to moderate my Hubs just as they give you that same ability to use on yours. I don't like to delete comments but stay on topic and stay away from personal attacks and insults.

The Frog

Stu From VT 5 years ago

Hi Frog,

I think a Hub merely defining progressivism would be rather boring, as everyone knows what it is. I think it would be far more useful to explain why the ideology is based on illegal pemises.


The Frog Prince profile image

The Frog Prince 5 years ago from Arlington, TX Author

Stu - It's your call. You write well and to inform.

Stu From VT 5 years ago

Hi Frog,

Just out of curiosity, how would you differentiate liberalism and progressivism? I have a hard time picturing a difference. In the very middle you have centrism, which is really the absence of any ideology. To the left of liberalism and progressivism you have radical leftism (socialism/communism, i.e., dictatorship). It seems liberalism and progressivism are synonyms for statism (without literal dictatorship), but maybe I'm missing something.

Thanks, Stu

The Frog Prince profile image

The Frog Prince 5 years ago from Arlington, TX Author

Stu - Look way, way over there on the far, far left and you'll see the light in the tunnel to follow. There are honest to goodness liberals in the world. Think it through. Once upon a time I was a liberal but by no means a progressive.

The Frog

WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

John Podesta, leader of the progressives, defined it:

"Progressives believe that America should be a country of boundless opportunity, where all people can better themselves through education, hard work, fair pay, and the freedom to pursue their dreams. We believe that this will be achieved only with an open and effective government that champions the common good over narrow self-interest while securing the rights and safety of all its people."

The last sentence tells us that progressives believe government should have the power to take from one to give to the other, and that freedom should take a back seat to government power.

Stu From VT 5 years ago

Hi Frog,

I see the political spectrum in terms of locus of power:

Posses: Arbitrary rule by disorganized violent elite (anarchy)

Paleocons: Almost no government, isolationism, asceticism

Libertarians: People are central locus of power

Mainstream Conservatives: States are central locus of power

Neocons: As with MC's, unless feds need to steal some power

Centrists: Pay me and I'll shut up (i.e., no ideology)

Mainstream Liberals: Feds are central locus of power

Socialists: Feds are dictators (tyranny)

Communists: Feds are dictators and own everything (absolute tyranny)

Another way to think about it is in terms of Machiavellianism. As you move from the right to the left, you go from "the means justify the ends" to "the ends justify the means." At the extreme right, there are only means, but no ends (pointless chaos). At the extreme left, there are mandated ends, and the means are of no consequence at all (brutal tyranny).

So, I still have my question: how does progressivism differ from mainstream liberalism? Will's definition of progressives is how I view mainstream liberalism (i.e., they seem like synonyms to me). What am I missing?

It's a little hard for me, as for the first 40 years of my life I was an Ayn Rand clone (i.e., extremely conservative libertarian). About age 40, I began to embrace mainstream conservativism (moved one notch to the left of where I was), as I began to feel that excessive "people power" could lead to moral decay and ultimate societal breakdown. My understanding of right wing thought is a bit more nuanced than in regard to the left as I never had any left wing leanings.

Thanks, Stu

breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 5 years ago

There is a world of difference between a liberal and a progressives. Liberals can be blind, annoying and misguided when it comes to addressing and solving problems, but progressives are the problem. Brilliant and informative piece of writing. Up, awesome and useful.

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