With the backlash to the ever growing power of the federal government and its increased dominance in our lives, one must ask, how did this behemoth come to be in the first place?

First, a little constitutional primer is in order to understand our current predicament. Under our constitutional system of government, the federal government is only supposed to have enumerated (limited) powers, while the states have plenary or general powers. Under this system, the federal government can only act in areas it is given authority to act such as national defense, while the states have general police powers to regulate the health, education and welfare of its citizenry. This separation of powers amongst the federal and state governments is better known as federalism and is an important cog in our governance as it keeps the central government from acquiring too much power and becoming oppressive. Yet, the federal government over the past few generations has been slowing usurping the states’ police powers. How can this happen and why would the states allow it to happen?

For the most part, states have been willing participants in this process. With the offer of federal dollars, no traditional state power has been sacred. Remember when we had a national speed limit? How did this come to pass even though the states have the inherent right to regulate their own roads without federal interference? Well, in order to qualify for federal dollars for road improvements, the states had to agree to the 55 mph speed limit. State treasuries loaded with money made it easier to give up power. Today, there is no national speed limit but we have a national drunk driving limit based on the same principle. Now don’t get me wrong, drunk driving is a scourge that needs to be combated; but just because it is a good thing to do, doesn’t mean we should not have concerns about how it came to be, because eventually after enough “good” decisions have been made for you, you will have no power to make any decisions for yourself – good or bad.

We can see the bad from the No Child Left Behind law. Although states have been given federal money to improve education standards, there has been no real improvement. All it has led to is teaching to the standards and if that fails, then resort to cheating in order to qualify for federal largess. Learning outside of the standards has been abandoned as this does not lead to federal dollars. Education across this nation has fallen off the rails.

As the federal government’s power has increased exponentially, the states have been left as mere vassals of the monarchy; and under the Obama administration, the nicety of offering a delicious treat for giving up one’s power has been done away with. Power will be grabbed by fiat.

Obamacare was shoved down all our throats with the ultimate goal of controlling our health care decisions from cradle (if you are allowed to be born) to grave. Additionally, the education power grab continues with the federal government taking full control of college student loans. One who controls the money, controls the content. Those colleges that do not tow the company line will see student loans dry up. No student loans, no students. The federal government is now poised to seize total control over our education system. Marx would be proud.

The process of federal domination has been going on for a long time. We are at a precipice as if this process is not halted; we will be subject to the whims of the omnipotent federal behemoth. In many ways, we have been complicit in this trajectory as we were addicted to the allure of free goodies. Now that the hammer has come down, hopefully, the populace will awaken.

Can we halt this process? This November should give us a clue.

 
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