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Blog of Mass Destruction

'Don't Know Much About History'

By The Reverend Published: August 22, 2013

The cornerstone doctrine of the conservative movement in the United States of 2013 is based on an entirely faulty interpretation of U.S. history.

How many times have you heard the line... 'the Founders intention in the Constitution was to "limit" the powers of the federal government?' "Limited government." In this misinterpretation, or twisted version, of historical truth......the Constitution grants the federal government only very "limited" powers, and individual states remained sovereign with significant power, all because "states rights" were equal to federal rights.....or "states rights" trumped federal power.

"States rights" and "limited federal powers" are, literally, the battle cries of today's Teas, conservatives and some libertarians. And yet, those battle cries ring hollow.

Here are the first two sentences of Article 6 of the U.S. Constitution.....

All Debts contracted and Engagements entered into, before the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation.

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

I want you to take note of the word "Confederation." When the Constitution was adopted, it was after a multi-year experiment by the fledgling nation with individual states holding sovereign powers and the federal government basically powerless. The Articles of Confederation, ratified in 1781, became the organizing contract for the 13 states.

But, then this happened...

.....the weakness of the government created by the Articles became a matter of concern for key nationalists. On March 4, 1789, the Articles were replaced with the U.S. Constitution.[2][3] The new Constitution provided for a much stronger national government with a chief executive (the president), courts, and taxing powers.

During state debates over replacing the Articles of Confederation with the Constitution, opponents of the new Constitution sounded exactly like today's Teas and conservatives. Here is a partial transcript of Pennsylvania opponents at the time, arguing against adopting the new Constitution.....

“We dissent … because the powers vested in Congress by this constitution, must necessarily annihilate and absorb the legislative, executive, and judicial powers of the several states, and produce from their ruins one consolidated government. …

“The new government will not be a confederacy of states, as it ought, but one consolidated government, founded upon the destruction of the several governments of the states. … The powers of Congress under the new constitution, are complete and unlimited over the purse and the sword, and are perfectly independent of, and supreme over, the state governments; whose intervention in these great points is entirely destroyed.”

Do read the entire Robert Parry piece on this subject. The writer points out that today's more extreme conservatives have adopted the same policy concerning federal power that the pre-Constitution "confederates" held. The very policy which was REJECTED by the Founders and the states when they ratified the Constitution in 1787.

Calls today from conservatives, Teas and Foxians to respect the "limited" powers of the federal government as determined by the Constitution and our Founders are all part of a concerted effort to re-write U.S.history in their own mind's image.

The truth is this: The colonies of the late 1700's tried governing the newborn nation the way today's conservatives and Teas want the U.S. governed today. States with all the power and sovereignty..... and limited, impotent powers granted to the federal government. IT FAILED.

The federal-government-centric Constitution replaced the 13 individual sovereign states arrangement under the Articles of Confederation.......and America has prospered and flourished ever since.

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