The angst over the election of Donald Trump appears to be driving some of our fellow citizens crazy. They fear what he will do in regards to abortion, gay marriage, Obamacare, education, climate change, welfare, and immigration. I believe this offers us with a once-in-a-generation opportunity to spread the message of limited government to an audience that, under normal circumstances, would not be receptive to it.
What if we were to steer the conversation with these non-Trumpers away from their hysterical claims and toward one of returning the federal government to its rightful and constitutional place?
Explain to them why the power wielded by the federal government exceeds any of the Founders’ wildest expectations. Explain to them that the states created the federal government and granted it the power to do a few things; everything else was left to the states.
Point them to Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution which lays out the list of the enumerated (and limited) powers granted to the federal government. It is comprised of 18 paragraphs.
- 6 paragraphs concern the military and the militia.
- 4 paragraphs concern money or taxes.
- 1 paragraph concerns commerce.
- 1 paragraph concerns naturalization and bankruptcies.
- 1 paragraph concerns post offices and post roads.
- 1 paragraph concerns copyrights and patents.
- 1 paragraph concerns federal courts.
- 1 paragraph concerns maritime crimes.
- 1 paragraph concerns the governance of the District of Columbia.
- 1 paragraph gives Congress the power “to make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers.”
Next you can show them the Tenth Amendment: “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.”
Finally, point out to them that the federal government (the one whose power is supposed to be restricted) is now one of the nation’s largest creditor, debtor, lender, employer, consumer, contractor, grantor, property owner, tenant, insurer, health care provider, and pension guarantor. Then pose the question: does that sound like the limited federal government laid out in the Constitution?
With the case laid out, you can now point out to your distraught non-Trumper friends that they have nothing to fear because the Constitution does not mention: marriage, health insurance, the education of our children, gun control, labor laws, abortion, bailouts of corporations, stimulus packages, regulation of carbon dioxide emissions, welfare programs, farm subsidies, regulation of drugs, or foreign aid. After their cynical laugh and some time of reflection, they may be willing to get involved in the rollback movement.
Shawn Brodof is a self-taught student of the Constitution and a huge fan of The Tenth Amendment Center. He is the father of three and a twenty year veteran of the financial services industry. Along the way he has started several businesses and written four books. His books are available here:
Latest posts by Shawn Brodof (see all)
From the Tenth Amendment Center Original Story