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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.
The Frog Prince
Part 1 of the series can be found here:
Part 2 can be found here: