If you read Think Progress’s article by Ian Millhiser you may think so. The article is even listed under “Radical Right-Wing Agenda” to help readers understand how radical Lee’s interpretation is. Reading the many comments on the article most of the Think Progress readers accept the authors’ view. What is left out is key to understanding what helped create a country of citizens living more free than any other in history. Federalism is not radical; it is painted by progressives that way to help mask just how regressive their philosophy of governing truly is.
Before looking deeper into the commentary itself it is important to see just how accurate the author is. The first indicator the author may not be too concerned with accuracy beyond his views is a simple confusion on the date this video was posted. Mr. Millhiser begins his attack, and it is an attack, by stating, “Last week, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) posted a lecture on his YouTube channel where he explains in great detail his views on the Constitution.” His article was posted Jan. 11, 2011. Clicking the link to the video shows it was posted on Jan. 04, 2010 as he was beginning his campaign for the U.S. Senate in Utah. Where was the claim of radicalism a year ago?
More important than understanding this convenient error is the complete error of understanding federalism, the 10th Amendment, and our U.S. Constitution. According to the many progressives the Constitution has a “failed…vision” which Millhiser even falsely claims led to the Great Depression. If we are to accept the progressive vision our Constitution would support a return to times of child labor and worse. There is nowhere in their vision to consider people and States being responsible enough to maintain important laws. We must believe only a strong national government ruling beyond the Constitution is capable of maintaining such laws. Should Sen. Lee, by upholding his Oath of Office, help in restoring proper separation of powers progressives want everyone to believe we would return to the dark ages?
Millhiser further attacks as radical the idea Lee put forward regarding the unconstitutionality of federal minimum wage laws, Social Security, Medicare, and whites-only lunch counters. An interesting note on this typical attack on the Constitution is a failure to mention it was the Supreme Court ruling in Plessy v. Fergusun (163 U.S. 537,1896) that allowed the segregation to continue for so long.
Economic damages created by the federal government telling employers who they can hire and how much they can pay a person has a great deal of empirical data proving it stifles the economy while helping very few and driving up unemployment. FDR’s vision of a retirement and medical insurance program has been so abused by progressive politicians it is in deep trouble. The national government is not good at business or social insurance, nor was it ever meant to be.
No matter how much social engineering proponents want to trash the Constitution, and those who embrace their Oath of Office to uphold it, the fact is Sen. Lee and other staunch originalists are not radical, they are right. FDR and all those before and after him, including Mr. Millhiser, simply chose to either ignore the true meaning of federalism or never understood it in the first place. What is radical is the economic destruction the national government imposes on all citizens as an on-going attempt to convert our republic based on free enterprise into a democracy based on social manipulation.
What is labeled as radical tenther views surrounding states’ right blinds too many from learning our original structure. First, the 10th Amendment is the keystone for maintaining control of the national government by the governed. States created the national government because a free society of unified States requires a strong national government that is good at a few things. In his booklet “Where’s the Line?” Utah Rep. Ken Ivory outlines the 37 enumerated powers we need a strong national government to be very good at to help maintain liberty.
Beyond this it is not the rights of states, this is an inaccurate name dating to the Calhoun era, but the responsibility of States to work with the people living in the State for areas such as child labor, education, and other areas impacting daily lives. People are further responsible locally and personally to treat each other equally and with dignity. Because we have had periods in our history where we failed to do this does not automatically mean we should throw out the system of liberty for one of strong national control beyond constitutional powers.
If we believe the national government should have powers not currently granted under the Constitution progressives believe it is best to ignore the Constitution and create unconstitutional laws, especially if the U.S. Supreme Court will uphold those unconstitutional laws. Sen. Lee, based on his speech and his record, believes what many freedom loving citizens believe and that is we must uphold our Constitution by maintaining the separation of powers and requiring States to take on their responsibility while allowing the national government to do what it can do best. Should it be decided the national government needs additional powers there is an amendment process to alter our Constitution.
For better or worse we have 17 examples, beyond the first 10 amendments, of this process. If the national government is to be the source for child labor laws let an amendment to the Constitution be put in place to properly give them that responsibility. Until then it is the States’ responsibility. The Commerce Clause does not change this responsibility. The Supremacy Clause does not change this; laws are only supreme when they are made pursuant to the powers allowed in the Constitution. Mr. Millhiser does not want anyone who reads his article to search beyond the fear of some instantaneous return to sweatshops and segregation should we once again return to our Constitution.
However, when it comes to being radical Mr. Millhiser may actually have a point. Initially reading his article it was his views that appeared radical. Remembering radical is defined as extreme changes is accepted or traditional forms of doing things we are living in a time when unconstitutional, national government control has become accepted and traditional. In this respect Sen. Lee, and all of us who want proper roles of government restored, are radical. Yet, are you ready to accept a progressive’s belief life under the U.S. Constitution would be radical?
Gary Wood is the Educational Advisor for the Utah Tenth Amendment Center. Co-founder of the Heritage Training Center, focused on helping end constitutional illiteracy. With 35 years of devoted study of our Constitution his desire is to help others rediscover the inspiring heritage of the United States. Radio show host, training officer, lifetime member of the VFW and most importantly Grandpa.
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