Happy Freedom Day
Today, the National Constitution Center is celebrating a new holiday, Freedom Day. In light of this, I thought it a good time to give my thoughts on the Constitution and its importance to our freedom.
The Revolutionary War was fought to liberate America from a government that the patriots considered tyrannical. America was founded upon the principle of liberty. The founding fathers were extremely skeptical of big governments. For example, James Madison, author of the US Constitution, warned “The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse.”
In order to ensure the freedom of the American citizens from an oppressive central government, the final amendment in the bill of rights reads, “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.” The 10th amendment established the Constitution as a document limiting the federal government to a few enumerated powers, while leaving all other activities to the state governments or to individuals operating within a free market.
According to the Constitution, if individual states want to set up programs that redistribute money to the poor, provide healthcare, and so on, they can do so. But the Federal government was never meant to administer programs of that nature. This decentralization of power is known as federalism. Federalism allows the different states to experiment and compete with each other in providing good governance, rather than relying on one size fits all commands from Washington. You can compare decentralized government to a highly competitive market with several firms constantly trying to provide better products than their competitors. A strong central government like we have today is much more akin to a monopoly.
Federalism is the enemy of power-hungry dictators, and it allows for far more freedom than a centralized state. If an individual doesn’t like the policies of his or her state government, they can move to a state with better policies. This is far easier than migrating to an entirely different country. As we celebrate freedom today, remember that if we want more of it, we should look towards the Constitution and the vision our founders had for this nation.