My Plan to Restore and Preserve the Federal System of Government Established by the Constitution
By Robert Greenslade © Nitwit Press
June 28, 2010
On September 11, 1786, the States of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Virginia met at Annapolis, Maryland, to discuss defects in the federal system of government created by the Articles of Confederation relative to trade and commerce.
The following February, a report was submitted to Congress proposing that the thirteen united States of America meet at Philadelphia 3 months later “for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation and reporting to Congress and the several legislatures such alterations and provisions therein as shall when agreed to in Congress and confirmed by the states render the federal constitution adequate to the exigencies of Government & the preservation of the Union.”
In response, all of the States, except Rhode Island, prepared credentials and appointed delegates to attend a federal convention in May of 1787 for the purpose of “revising the federal system of Government.”
On May 29, 1787, Edmund Randolph, Governor of Virginia, gave a long and detailed speech in which he enumerated defects in the Articles of Confederation. He concluded his remarks by introducing a set of fifteen resolutions he hoped the Convention would adopt as the “leading principles whereon to form a new government.” These resolutions, which were written by James Madison, are known as the Virginia Plan.
The following day, during discussion on his resolutions, Randolph “candidly confessed that they were not for a federal government. He meant a strong consolidated union, in which the idea of states should be nearly annihilated.”
Even though this plan ultimately failed, and the proposed constitution, in its final form, simply revised and expanded the federal system of government established by the Articles of Confederation, the disciples of consolidation have been working tirelessly to destroy our federal system of government.
What does the word federal mean?
The first step in any proposal to restore and preserve the federal system of government established by the Constitution is to identify the meaning of the word federal.
In 1850, John C. Calhoun’s essay entitled: A Discourse on the Constitution and Government of the United States was published in book form. Calhoun wrote the following concerning the system of government established by the Constitution:
“It is federal, because it is the government of States united in a political union, in contradistinction to a government of individuals, that is, by what is usually called, a social compact. To express it more concisely, it is federal and not national because it is the government of a community of States, and not the government of a single State or Nation
I choose Calhoun’s statement because it is accurate, concise, and clearly distinguishes a federal system of government from a national one. If Randolph and his fellow nationalists had prevailed in the Federal Convention of 1787, then Calhoun’s statement would have read:
“It is national, because it is the government of individuals, that is, by what is usually called a social compact, in contradistinction to a government of States united in a political union. To express it more concisely, it is national and not federal because it is the government of a single State or Nation, and not the government of a community of States.”
This is the consolidated system of government the progressives are trying to create by systematically destroying the federal one created by the Founders.My Plan
Other than interposition or nullification of federal usurpations of power by the States, which is another topic for another day, my plan will focus on what I believe are the 4 key principles of our federal system of government. One has been ignored and perverted; one has been nullified through a constitutional amendment; one has been weakened through a constitutional amendment and a plan has emerged to circumvent it through a provision in the Constitution; the last one remains intact but will be attacked in the future.
(1) The Separation of Power between the States and their Federal Government is the First Principle of Our Federal System of Government.
“The separation of power between the States and their federal government is the most important component of the federal system of government established by the Constitution because ALL of the powers granted to the federal government flow from this principle. Constitutionally, NONE of the powers delegated to the federal government can be invoked to change or circumvent this separation of power because the delegated powers come after the separation of power.”
The separation of power between the States and their federal government is a simple concept. The limited powers delegated to the federal government pertain to external or foreign affairs and relations between the States, while the numerous and indefinite powers reserved to the several States pertain to the lives, liberties and properties of the people. In other words, the States, in their united or collective capacity, stand in place of the States individually in foreign and federal affairs. This is where federal power begins and ends. Everything else is reserved to the States.
Unfortunately, this separation of power has been ignored and perverted. In order to restore this principle, we need to make it the focus of every debate and discussion concerning the federal exercise of power. Every person who believes in constitutional government must be able to comprehend and explain this principle.
Since this separation of power has been a threat to the enemies of our federal system of government since the Constitution was proposed and adopted, it might be necessary to craft a constitutional amendment to set the separation in stone. However, it could also be achieved through and in conjunction with number 2 below.
(2) Repeal the Seventeenth Amendment.
Prior to 1913, members of the Senate were chosen by the legislatures of the several States while members of the House of Representatives were elected directly by the people of the several States. This provided a balance of power in Congress. The House, the so-called voice of the people, could not enact any legislation that would operate to the detriment of the States because their representatives in the Senate could block it. Since the enactment of this Amendment, the Senate has all but ceased to be the guardian of the States because senators now answer directly to the people for their election to office.
In the Massachusetts Ratifying Convention of 1788, Mr. Ames made the following statement concerning the original method of electing the members to the Senate and the consequences if the people elected them:
But whom, in that case, would they represent? Not the legislatures of the states, but the people. This would totally obliterate the federal features of the Constitution. What would become of the state governments, and on whom would devolve the duty of defending them against the encroachment of the federal Government? A consolidation of the states would ensue, which, it is conceded, would subvert the new Constitution, and against which this very article, so much condemned, is our best security. Too much provision cannot be made against a consolidation. The state governments represent the wishes, and feelings, and local interests, of the people. They are the safeguard and ornament of the Constitution; they will protract the period of our liberties; they will afford a shelter against the abuse of power, and will be the natural avengers of our violated rights.
During debate on the proposed constitution in the North Carolina Ratifying Convention, William Davie stated:
The next department is the Senate. How is it formed? By the states themselves. Do they not choose them? Are they not created by them? And will they not have the interests of the states particularly at heart?
The states, sir, can put a final period to the government…. If the state legislatures think proper, they may refuse to choose senators, and the government must be destroyed
Not only was the original method of appointing members of the Senate a check on federal power, as stated above, but State control over the individuals in the Senate is important for several other reasons.
● The power to try impeachments is vested exclusively in the States through the Senate.
● The power to ratify treaties is vested exclusively in the States through the Senate.
● The power to confirm ambassadors, public ministers, consuls, judges, and other officers of the United States is vested exclusively in the States through the Senate.
Since the States are vested with the power to perform these important functions because they are critical to the operation and preservation of our federal system of government, the Amendment needs to be repealed sooner rather than later. The new amendment would return appointment of senators to the State legislatures and make these individuals subject to immediate recall and replacement if they either:
1-Violate their constitutional oath of office, or
2-Propose or vote for legislation that violates the separation of power between the States and their federal government.
Since the adoption of the Seventeenth Amendment, the federal system of government established by the Constitution has been seriously weakened because the States have lost their power and representation in the Senate.
(3) Mandate a Winner-Take-All Rule for the Electoral College.
When the American people cast their vote in a presidential election they are actually voting for individuals within their State called an elector. The electors are representatives just like the members of Congress. Unlike members of Congress who are elected for a specific term of years and cast numerous votes while in office, electors perform a single function once every four years. They are entrusted with the responsibility of voting for the President and Vice President of the United States.
The legislature of each State is authorized by Article II, Section I, Clause 2 of the Constitution to prescribe the mode for appointing its electors. At the present time, that method is a democratic popular vote within each State and the District of Columbia. (The District was made part of the electoral process in 1961 with the adoption of the 23rd Amendment.)
The candidate who wins the popular vote of a State usually receives all of that State’s electoral votes even if he wins by only one vote. This is called the winner take all rule. For example. In California, in a two-candidate race, if a candidate received 50.1% of the popular vote, that candidate would receive all of California’s electoral votes. Since there is no constitutional provision mandating a winner take all rule, the method of allocating electoral votes is left to the discretion of each State.
Maine and Nebraska do not use the winner take all method. In these States, two electors are chosen at-large by the statewide popular vote and the rest are selected by the popular vote in each congressional district. This allows for a split slate of electors to be chosen in those two States.
In the North Carolina Convention debating ratification of the proposed constitution, William Davie stated that the States control the election of the President and this would be a check on the federal government:
Is not this government a nerveless mass, a dead carcass, without the executive power? Let your representatives be the most vicious demons that ever existed; let them plot against the liberties of America; let them conspire against its happiness,—all their machinations will not prevail if not put in execution. By whom are their laws and projects to be executed? By the President. How is he created? By electors appointed by the people under the direction of the legislature—by a union of the interest of the people and the state governments. The state governments can put a veto, at any time, on the general government, by ceasing to continue the executive power.
James Wilson made the following remarks in the Pennsylvania Convention:
The President of the United States is to be chosen by electors appointed in the different states, in such manner as the legislature shall direct. Unless there be legislatures to appoint electors, the President cannot be chosen; the idea, therefore, of the existing government of the states, is pre-supposed in the very mode of constituting the legislative and the executive departments of the general government. The same principle will apply to the judicial department. The judges are to be nominated by the President, and appointed by him, with the advice and consent of the Senate. This shows that the judges cannot exist without the President….
The importance of the Electoral College as a linchpin in our federal system of government was made crystal clear by Abel Upshur in his 1868 book, The Federal Government: Its True Nature and Character:
So absolutely is the Federal Government dependent on the States for its existence at all times, that it may be absolutely dissolved, without the least violence, by the simple refusal of a part of the States to act. If, for example, a few States, having a majority of electoral votes, should refuse to appoint electors of President and Vice-President, there would be no constitutional Executive, and the whole machinery of government would stop.
The ability of the States to exercise this control over the federal government has been diluted by the 20th Amendment, which grants Congress the power to appoint a president until a selection is made. However, it is clear that the Founders intended the Electoral College to be a key component of the federal system of government.
The Electoral College system is under attack by the same progressives who engineered the adoption of the Seventeenth Amendment. An organization is pushing a plan known as: The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact Plan. Using the interstate compact provision of the Constitution, their plan would award all of a State’s electoral votes to the candidate who won the national popular vote irrespective of whether that candidate won the State’s popular vote. For example. If a candidate won the popular vote in California by a landslide but lost the national popular vote, California would award its electoral votes to the candidate rejected by its voters.
Opponents of the Electoral College claim the system is contrary to democracy because a candidate could win the mythical national popular vote but lose the electoral vote. This assertion is simply a straw man argument because the Constitution did not establish a national democracy.
This plan is another attack on the federal system of government established by the Constitution in the name of a system of government that was rejected by the individuals who wrote and adopted the Constitution. Under our federal system, the democratic process was designed to take place at the State level—not the national level.
In order to preserve the federal nature of the presidential election process, we need to amend the Constitution and mandate the winner take all rule in every State and the District of Columbia.
(4) The Amendment Process.
Most Americans do not know that the amendment process is actually one of the key components of our federal system of government. Since the restoration and preservation of our federal system of government will involve at least 2 amendments of the Constitution, it is important to review the amendment process.
Pursuant to Article V of the Constitution, there are only two methods for proposing amendments to the document. Two-thirds of the States  can request a Constitutional Convention or Congress [two-thirds of both Houses] can propose amendments that are submitted to the States for ratification. In either case, it takes a vote of three-fourths of the States  to ratify any proposed change. Neither Congress nor a majority of the American people can amend the Constitution. Likewise, neither the federal government nor the whole people can override a three-fourths vote of the States. The 38 smallest States, with a minority of the population, can bind the remaining 12 States with a majority of the population.
Since the Constitution established a federal system of government, not a national one, the States have the sole power of amendment through the federal formula enumerated in Article V.
Through the amendment process, the States have the power to enlarge, restrict or abolish the powers of the federal government. Thus, the States have the exclusive power to implement the changes necessary to restore and preserve the federal system of government established by the Founders. For this reason, it is only a matter of time before the progressives attack Article V of the Constitution as anti-democratic process just like the Electoral College.
The plan to destroy our federal system of government is about power and control. To achieve that goal, the progressives have attacked, demonized, removed, and circumvented the checks and balances provided by our federal system of government on the centralization of power. The ones that remain are hanging by a thread.
In order to restore and preserve our federal system of government, the people of these United States must seize control of their individual States. As shown above, control over the States equals the ability to control the federal government.
This is an either or proposition. Either we work through our States to seize control over the federal government or the progressives will continue to use the federal government to destroy the States and seize control over us.
Your comments and feedback are welcome!
Some other, related reading:
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focuses his writing on issues surrounding
the federal government and the Constitution. He believes politicians at
the federal level, through ignorance or design, are systematically
dismantling the Constitution in an effort to expand their power and
consolidate control over the American people. He has dedicated himself
to resurrecting the true intent of the Constitution in the hope that
the information will contribute, in some small way, to restoring the
system of limited government established by the Constitution.
If you are interested in finding out more about the Constitution, take a look at this book. I use it in many of my articles and it is the best book I've found on this subject. Bob
Reprint of the 1868 edition. ''Perhaps the ablest analysis of the nature and character of the federal government that has ever been published. It has remained unanswered.'' This review of Judge Story's Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States is perhaps the ablest analysis of the nature and character of the Federal Government that has ever been published. It has remained unanswered. Indeed, we are not aware that any attempt has been made to challenge the soundness of its reasoning. The great vise of Judge Story and the Federalists consisted in desiring the clothe the federal government with almost monarchical power, whereas the States had carefully and resolutely reserved the great mass of political power for themselves. The powers which they delegated to the federal government were few, and were general in their character. Those which they reserved embraced their original and inalienable sovereignty, which no state imagined it was surrendering when it adopted the constitution. Mr. Madison dwelt with great force upon the fact that ''a delegated is not a surrendered power.'' The states surrendered no powers to the federal government -- they only delegated them. 160 pages.
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The Constitution does not Grant the Federal Government
the Authority to Establish a so-called National Health Care Program
A Re-Write of the Bill of Rights through the Preamble
Are the Additional Questions on the Census and American
Community Survey just Another Usurpation of Power?
My Response to the 2010 Census Form
The Census Bureau is Violating the Privacy Act of 1974
Will the “Contract From America” Reform Government or Simply Validate the Usurpation of Power?
The Contract from America should have Focused on the Separation of Power