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Santorum and Obama: Two Peas in a Pod?
by Connor Boyack
George Orwell is no doubt smiling down from the heavens after witnessing last night’s Republican “debate” in Ames, Iowa. Why, you might ask? This event featured more doublethink (if not hypocrisy) than any other in recent history. Recall that Orwell defined doublethink in 1984 as “The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them…” The Ames Debate offered several instances of this very thing, many relating directly to the Tenth Amendment. Congresswoman Bachmann, for example, has positioned herself repeatedly as a leader in the tea party, state’s rights, and Tenth Amendment movements.
Asked last night whether there was a difference between the state or federal government mandating that an individual buy a product (referring primarily to health care insurance), Bachmann responded that there was no difference. It is “unconstitutional,” she maintained, regardless of whether it is imposed by the state or federal government. She did not cite which part of the Constitution denies states this authority. Of course, that’s because no clause in the Constitution prevents states from doing it, as Congressman Paul rightly noted in response to Bachmann’s doublethink. Paul stated that the federal government is not empowered to go in and stop states that do bad things. Moments later, Senator Santorum jumped in to criticize both of them, claiming that their responses were indicative of “the Tenth Amendment run amok.”
Said Santorum: Michelle Bachmann says that she would go in and fight health care being imposed by states, but she wouldn’t go in and fight marriage being imposed by the states. That would be okay. We have Ron Paul saying oh, whatever the states want to do under the Tenth Amendment is fine. So if the states want to pass polygamy, that’s fine. If the states want to impose sterilization, that’s fine. No! Our country is based on moral laws, ladies and gentleman. There are things the states can’t do. Abraham Lincoln said “the states do not have the right to do wrong.” I respect the Tenth Amendment, but we are a nation that has values. We are a nation that was built on a moral enterprise. And states don’t have the right to tramp over those because of the Tenth Amendment. Leaving aside the fact that he inaccurately portrayed Rep. Paul’s stance, it is obvious that Santorum is no Tenther, but rather a power-loving thug looking to impose his personal set of morals and values on any people living under whatever level of government he can use to accomplish his goals. In this respect, he’s hardly different from Barack Obama at all. Obviously, Santorum has either not read or understood the Tenth Amendment — included in the Constitution which he has on several occasions sworn an oath to support and defend — which provides for the very things he is criticizing.
States do have the ability, under the constitutional system the Founders put in place, to “do wrong.” They have the sovereign authority to decide whatever they wish on whatever matters they like, provided that this authority has not already been delegated to the federal government, or has not been explicitly denied them in the Constitution.
For as we read in 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.”
In Federalist 45, James Madison provides a well-known quote regarding the balance between federal and state powers:
The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.
Nowhere does Madison describe the Constitution as empowering the federal government to intervene in a state’s affairs when it is believed by others to be “doing wrong.” Indeed, the very purpose of the Tenth Amendment is to enable states to retain the authority and ability to do stupid things (and hopefully good things, too). For if the other states can, through the federal government, force another state to not do something they consider to be “wrong,” then what can that federal government not do?
Another common attempt used by nationalists to impose in one fell swoop what they otherwise would have to introduce in 50 different states is to authoritatively affirm, simply, that we are “a nation.” It was notably used in the last presidential cycle by Governor Huckabee who claimed that “…we are one nation. We can’t be divided. We have to be one nation under God. That means if we make a mistake, we make it as a single country.” Without qualifying these remarks with the constitutional limits placed upon the federal government — and thus describing what that “nation” can and cannot do — support is manufactured for policies that have no authority, yet which are then imposed upon everybody.
The federal government was created by the states, and unless explicitly denied the authority, states retain the ability to pass dumb laws — even horrible ones. In fact, many already do! It is up to the individuals in that state to fix those laws and improve their government. It is not the right or duty of their neighbors to use the federal government to correct their behavior/
When we sit back for a moment and recognize that the federal government already claims the power to require to you to purchase health insurance, to tell you what size toilet you can have, what kind of plants you can grow in your back yard, what kind of light bulb you can use, and so much more – don’t we realize there’s already too much federal power? For people like Obama and Santorum, it sure doesn’t seem that way.
The examples mentioned here are unfortunately not mere doublethink. They are constitutional treason. They are violations of the oath of office to support and defend that document, and they are either ignorant or intentionally destructive attempts to impose upon an entire nation of people things that should be left up to them to decide.
In doublethink, writes Orwell, “the lie always one leap ahead of the truth.” It is true that the Tenth Amendment is important, that the federal government should be restrained, and that the Constitution should be upheld. Unfortunately, most of the politicians promoting these truths are doing so in the shadow of their contradicting lies which run totally contrary to those positions.
Thus did Orwell also write that political prose is crafted “to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” Voter beware.
Connor Boyack is the state chapter coordinator for the Utah Tenth Amendment Center. He is a web developer, political economist, and social media consultant changing the world one byte at a time. Read his blog or follow him on Twitter.