The Case For Enumerated Powers

by Michael Murphy | Dec 19, 2016

Our founding fathers were not stupid men, nor did they wake up one day and decide Great Britain was causing problems and decided to revolt. The idea of liberty was not something that one day popped into Thomas Jefferson’s head. No, it began when God created man.

In the Garden, we were truly free. Free from rulers and free from sin. God did not rule man- He told man what He wanted, but He let man make his own decisions. God’s plan from the beginning was for man to have freedom, tempered by personal responsibility, and self-restraint. Adam and Eve ruined the paradise they lived in and were kicked out, never to return, in spite of progressives’ efforts to recreate the perfect place on earth. Remember, God did not force compliance, as do progressives.

Our framers understood men, and they understood God. For the first time in history, they devised a way for men to govern themselves, but first, they had to rid themselves of the abuse of power which they had endured for several millennia.

I have found myself in several “discussions” over the years with progressives who deny that the Declaration is tied to our Constitution. They could not be more wrong. The Constitution is the roadmap; the Declaration is the vehicle.

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”  boot-on-throat

We are “entitled by the laws of nature and nature’s God,” not by any man. Here is where progressives get confused and lose their way. I believe many progressives suffer from “projection.” Psychological projection is a theory in psychology in which humans defend themselves against their own unconscious impulses or qualities (both positive and negative) by denying their existence in themselves while attributing them to others.

In other words, because they feel incapable of personal responsibility and self-restraint, no one else is capable. It is, of course, more complicated than that- some are happy to let someone else make their choices, and remove some of the “risks.” Some are elitists and feel a need to take charge for the good of the collective, of course. These feelings are incompatible with our form of government. Most of progressivism is based on feelings.
When did our nation begin?

The Articles were ratified on March 1, 1781, is that the birth of our nation? The Constitution was adopted June 21, 1788, is that the birth? We just celebrated the ratification of the Bill of Rights on December 15th, was it that date in 1791? Of course not! We celebrate July 4th as “Independence Day,” the day our nation began. We celebrated our 200th birthday in 1976!

Did you know that all laws signed by the president of the United States are dated and noted with the number of years from July 4, 1776, the date of the Declaration of Independence? Did you know the Declaration freed the slaves? The Declaration was used as the argument to free the slaves. Martin Luther King used the Declaration that all men were created equal. The Declaration is certainly as foundational to the republic as is the Constitution.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly, all experience hath shewn that mankind is more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

These words had their roots in the 1100 Charter of Liberties, The Magna Carta, The Petition of Rights, The English Bill of Rights, Two Treatises of Government, and more. When the Israelites begged for a king, they were warned of the dangers. The early kings of Europe were a result of people failing to learn the lessons of Israel and deciding to set up kings for security. Yes, even then people were willing to trade liberty for security, and in the end, they neither had nor deserved either.1100-charter-of-liberties

But hey, the headline for this article is about Enumerated Powers! No, I did not get off track. I needed to remind you of how we reached this point in history. Have you noticed in recent elections how we expect a president to be a king? We demand they do this or that; they promise to do this or that, and none of it is within the Enumerated powers granted them by Article II of our Constitution! We have not learned the lessons of the Israelites or the early Europeans!

My profession was as an airline pilot; my wife spent much of her adult live in the medical field. Aviation uses what we call SOP- Standard Operating Procedure, and the medical field uses protocol. Both are similar, and they have a vital role in safety. The purpose is to assure that people don’t just do this or that and that we follow procedure to assure a positive outcome. Now on occasion, deviation from those established practices are necessary because of a unique situation. One size fits all, does not always fit all. Capt. Sully is a perfect example. He did what he needed to do in that one instance, much as a doctor might deviate from protocol in a special circumstance. And to be honest, not all deviations have a good outcome. Many an accident investigation or a postoperative review shows the cause of the accident or death was a result of the deviation!

However, we do not then change ALL future actions to match the previous deviation. Landing in the Hudson River is not the answer for all aircraft emergencies! Why then do we allow the government to deviate and then change everything from that point on? Imagine the mess EACH airline trip would be if every deviation from SOP was incorporated into all future flights!

Yet, that is what we have done with our Constitution. Congress, the President, and SCOTUS do not follow the Constitution we carry around in our pocket. They swear their allegiance to a 3,000-page behemoth that is a compilation of all the deviations and mistakes of the past!

If ever there was a case for the Enumerated Powers, it is our current situation. If you would, indulge me for another medical example. Who out there takes prescription drugs? Do they have any side effects? Watching TV, I see ads for drugs where the first 15 seconds tells us what ailment it will fix, and the next 45 seconds tell us what might happen if we do take the drug! Often times, if we do take the drug, we are then prescribed another drug to offset the side effects. Where do we draw the line? Do we eventually decide to just live with the side effects? Maybe if we changed our diet and lifestyle, the drug would be unnecessary?

I believe a case can be made that ALL the problems we have today are side effects of the drug of progressivism – deviations from SOP and Protocol – failure to know and learn the lessons of the Israelites and early kingdoms of Europe. Government is only to secure man’s rights, and if it becomes destructive to that end, it is our right- our responsibility to alter or abolish it.

Our founders initial objective was to alter their government, and they abolished it after they exhausted efforts to make necessary changes. They gave us a tool, a lifeline, if you will, to do just that. Article V was established because they knew the Constitution was not a forever unchangeable document, and that it would require “tweaks” as society changed. They also understood that men would lust for power and abuse their position, that a method to “rein them in” would be needed. The 9th and 10th Amendments also make it clear that anything beyond the enumerated powers was reserved for the people and the states.

Would we tolerate doctors who use the deviations in protocol and the malpractice of the doctors before them to treat our children? Are we not doing that very thing with our elected leaders? The Enumerated Powers of the US Constitution listed in Articles I, II and III are the SOP, the protocols of the Republic. We ignore them at our peril.

“And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”
Do we let the pledge of these men be made in vain?