Should a federal government that is more than $14 Trillion
in debt be spending time and resources regulating from
Washington whether or not Mrs. Ford can continue her bake
sale program with her special education students in Tooele,
Utah? Should a federal government that is overspending
by more than $1.5 Trillion per year be proposing
regulations to declare a 12-inch wide rivulet in the middle
of a desert “navigable waters” in order to regulate nearly
everything about that private land? Is it realistic for us
to expect the federal government to police itself when it is
borrowing (or creating out of thin air) $0.43 of every
dollar it spends? How will our children pay for 100% of
their government cost, plus the 43% we refuse to
pay for, plus interest, with an increasingly
devalued currency? Where’s the Line, America to
what the federal government can spend, regulate, devalue or
Over the past 75 years or so, the Federal government has grown to control nearly every aspect of our daily lives. It is taking on more and more of the responsibilities originally reserved to the States, or to the people themselves, . . . and making a big mess of it in the process.
This is not the fault of any one political party. Those who founded our nation knew that it was the very nature and disposition of men and government to amass unbridled power. They knew from history that this is just what governments do. To address this natural tendency of government, they designed a unique constitutional system of checks and balances that was unprecedented. They provided for
“internal checks” which we know as “separation of powers,” where the powers delegated to the federal government are divided among three different branches (executive, legislative and judicial). But they also knew from the experience of all human history that a central government could never be expected to police itself.
So, they also deliberately designed our unique constitutional system with
“external checks” to prevent the federal government from
“overpassing its constitutional limits.” (Alexander Hamilton). Our unique system of
internal and external checks and balances is known as a “compound republic,” or dual sovereignty, or federalism. In addition to preventing the federal government from over passing its constitutional limits, our system was engineered with a vast network of internal and external checks and balances as a
“double security to the rights of the people.” (James Madison, Alexander Hamilton).
In this distinct dual sovereignty system of government, the states are charged with the responsibility of
“jealously and closely watch[ing] the operations of [the federal] government” so that they will
“be able to resist with more effect every assumption of power, [better] than any power on earth can do.” This is because the states are by nature to be the
“sure guardians of the people’s liberty.” (James Madison). Thomas Jefferson said it was important to maintain the strength and vitality of the states because
“it must the states themselves, erecting barriers at the constitutional line as cannot be surmounted either by themselves, or by the general government.”
In a day when there is a palpable, non-partisan sense of the nationwide angst at a federal government devoid of budgetary balance and governmental proportionality, could it be time to seriously re-examine our unique system of internal and external checks and balances? Much like a state of the art computer over time may acquire viruses and fragmentation of the hard drive and require a re-boot of the operating system and defragmentation of the hard drive, could it be that we need to seriously consider a re-boot of our constitutional operating system to its “factory settings”?
To ask such questions is to recognize that we have an obligation to know in greater depth
Where’s the Line? as established in our distinct, constitutional system of government. As you study the materials and information in this section, you will gain information to Share
Where’s the Line? and to Ask your representatives at every level of government if they understand
Where’s the Line?