By J. Allen Tharp
Like many of you, I have given a lot of thought to the idea of American exceptionalism. America was the first country to be founded on the fundamental principles of freedom. Those principles have been preserved for us in our Constitution for over two centuries, and we all owe a huge debt of gratitude to those founders who risk their lives to create this Constitutional Republic.
But after the onslaught on our freedom that we have seen, is America still exceptional? Is it still the best place in the world to live? Certainly many liberties have been allowed to slip away since the time of the founders.
State’s rights were diminished after the Civil War, as a result of the 14th amendment.
During the Wilson administration and the FDR administration, the attack on our liberties kicked into high gear. Under Wilson America saw the advent of the IRS, the Federal Reserve System, US Senators elected by popular vote rather than state legislatures, and a completely unnecessary World War.
Under FDR we saw stimulus programs tried and fail, like the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA). The size and scope of Federal Government grew in ways that had nothing to do with the authority granted to it under the Constitution. FDR added an alphabet soup of new agencies like the CCC, WPA, and the PWA. None of which had anything to do with the proper role of the Federal Government. FDR also created the unconstitutional Social Security Administration, which is now projected to hasten the financial collapse of our economic system.
We saw FDR implement the deportation and incarceration of those of Japanese ancestry, with Executive order 9066 which was later upheld by the Supreme Court in the Kore Matsu Decision. The vast majority of these people were American citizens. This, BTW, was one of many terrible decisions made over the years by the high court.
We saw Roosevelt’s Supreme Court greatly expand the reach of the Federal Government in the Wickard V. Filburn case, through the misinterpretation and overexpansion of the Commerce Clause. By ruling that a farmer growing wheat on his own land for his own use could be considered to be involved in interstate commerce, the Court set up a very dangerous and injurious precedent that has haunted us to this day and has given the Federal Government powers never intended by the founders.
Then Kennedy was instrumental in setting something in motion that would be seen to cause grievous, ongoing harm to America’s financial viability. He presided over the unionization of Federal employees. This was another mistake that has resulted in Federal employees now having much more lavish salaries and benefits than those of us in the private sector. This is one of the main factors adding to our national debt. We now owe $100 trillion in unfunded mandates, and these pension obligations are a large part of that. Unaffordable debt today kills freedom tomorrow.
Then the Johnson administration pushed programs that made sure that succeeding generations were saddled with welfare spending like this country had never seen before. Rather than creating a “Great Society,” Johnson contributed to the dependent society where freeloaders are rewarded and producers are punished.
Then Nixon came along and put the final nail in the gold standard. So the dollar lost more and more value, with no stop in sight. A fiat currency is a dangerous thing and jeopardizes our freedoms more than many realize, by allowing the Fed to erode the value of the dollar.
Now we have the Obama administration and the current crop of big government proponents who have managed to grow government even larger and decrease our freedoms in ways we never before thought possible. No one could have envisioned a time when the Federal government could force us to buy a product we didn’t want or need and penalize us if we refused. But that is exactly what has happened under Obamacare.
Who would have envisioned a time when a President would issue an executive order robbing us of the right of freedom of association? Yet, that has now happened with the new order to place low-income housing in affluent communities and penalize those communities who choose not to participate.
Who could have envisioned that an entire administration, supported by both Democrats and Republicans in Congress, would destroy our national sovereignty by opening our borders and offering amnesty to illegals sneaking into our country?
Who could have envisioned that an American President would intentionally try to break the back of small business with high taxes, crushing penalties, and unreasonable regulations, although previous generations understood that small business is the backbone of the country? But now the Federal Government has become the enemy of small business and constantly finds new ways to increase the cost of doing business in America. The damage of such policies is so inevitable that many of us ask, “Is this intentional malfeasance or just incompetence and arrogance brought to a new level?”
When you look at what politicians, bureaucrats, and judges have done to this once wonderful Constitutional Republic, some started to ask if we are still the best country in the world. Like many others who have become so disillusioned with the current state of affairs that they have left the USA for greener pastures, I also began to question where I could take my family to escape Obama’s America, if things continued to deteriorate. Could there be better places to live, somewhere in this big world?
Heritage has rated countries on a freedom index based on civil liberties, political rights, and economic rights. They rate each country as either free, mostly free, or not free. America has slipped from free to mostly free. We failed to make the top 10 list of economically free countries in the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom. Instead, the top 10 spots went to Denmark, Ireland, Mauritius, Chile, Canada, New Zealand, Switzerland, Australia, Singapore, and Hong Kong. The United States came in at number 12, even behind Estonia.
The U.S. was rated number 6 when Obama came into office in 2009. The reason for America’s decline on the index over the last 7 years was primarily due to a loss of showings in “fiscal freedom, business freedom and property rights,” according to Heritage and the Wall Street Journal.
The downward slide in this list confirms that there is real reason to be concerned about the future of liberty in this country, as statist policies from Washington, D.C., continue to chip away at our constitutionally protected rights. Both Republicans and Democrats are culpable for the sad loss of liberty and the usurpation of power from the states by Washington.
However, the founders gave us a mechanism in Article V of the Constitution to rein in the Federal Government, in case a time came when they usurped the powers rightfully reserved to the states by the tenth amendment. Article V authorizes 38 states to become more powerful than all three branches of the Federal Government combined because 38 states can join to ratify amendments to the Constitution and override the Federal Government.
If an irresponsible Federal Government refuses to live within its means, the states can pass an amendment to the Constitution requiring them to balance the budget each year.
If the Federal Government insists on continuing to pass voluminous bills that exceed the number of pages in Tolstoy’s War and Peace, then states can use this process to limit the size of all bills to a maximum number of words or pages.
If the Federal Government insists on providing unfair tax breaks to those in favor, the states can use Article V to pass an amendment establishing a flat/fair tax and eliminating any exemptions.
If corrupt, incumbent Federal politicians become so entrenched that they cannot be unseated because they can use the resources of the office to get re-elected, we can use Article V to implement term limits on them and force them out of office.
When the Supreme Court makes unconstitutional decisions, like Obergefell V. Hodges, or decides to legislate from the bench as in the King V. Burwell decision, States could pass an Article V amendment to authorize a majority of states to override bad Court decisions.
So, the framework of this Constitutional Republic and the protections incorporated into our Constitution by the founders, including Article V, made America exceptional. But it is up to us to use the tools we were given to determine just how exceptional America will still be tomorrow.
Article V was included by the founders as our check on Federal tyranny. Only ignorance and fear can prevent us from using this tool to rein in this runaway Federal Government and restore the Constitutional Republic given to us by the founders. It is up to us to act.
This content is published under the Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Please honor attribution.