This post is the continuation of a weekly Constitution Revolution series that will cover the entire Constitution and many of the principles it was founded on. Click here for last week’s lesson.
I have a confession to make: I have absolutely no musical talent whatsoever. It’s embarrassing. I can’t even clap with a beat.
At different times in my life, I have tried to learn some of the basic aspects of music but I just can’t do it. If you gave me a song to play, it doesn’t matter how much time you gave me or what I tried, I wouldn’t be able to play it well. And I definitely wouldn’t be able to play it as well as someone who actually has musical talent.
For whatever reason I wasn’t wired to be musical. If I want to be successful, I need to stick to the few things that I have talent for and leave the music to people who are better suited for it.
[sharequote align="center"]For our federal government to be successful it needs to focus on doing things that it does well.[/sharequote]
The same is true with government. If we want our federal government to be successful it needs to focus on doing those things that it does well.
This weekend on TheBlaze Radio’s Chris Salcedo Show, I talked about what it is that our federal government does well:
So there you have it. Large, centralized governments like our federal government are very good with external issues like national defense and foreign diplomacy. But because of the huge number of people and the massive area of land they are governing, those types of governments are terrible at dealing with domestic issues.
By contrast, small republics are often very good at addressing their domestic issues. But because of their smaller size they have a difficult very time defending themselves.
Our Constitution was designed to get the best of both those worlds.
The federal government gives us the power that we need to properly defend this country and to have a strong influence on the world stage; while allowing our states the independence to deal with what goes on within their own borders gives us all the benefits of remaining a small republic.
But to actually experience those benefits, we have to get the federal government to keep its nose out of the business of the states and focus on what it’s good at.
When you stop and think about how big the United States actually is, it’s easy to see why the federal government isn’t very good at handling domestic issues. Think about all of the different people who live here. And all the little towns they live in. And all of the unique problems that are facing each of those people and each of those communities. It’s not humanly possible for the people in our federal government to take all of those diverse problems into account and come up with a set of policies that will improve them all.
The Capital is mirrored in the Capital Reflecting Pool on Capitol Hill in Washington early Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013. (AP Photo/J. David Ake)
To take that a little further, consider the differences in culture and climate just among Texas, Alaska, and Hawaii. The people in each one of those states are facing a very unique set of challenges that only the people living in those states truly understand. It’s not realistic to believe that a group of disconnected bureaucrats thousands of miles away in Washington, D.C. will be able to effectively address those challenges. And we shouldn’t expect them to.
When our federal politicians try to get involved in local and domestic issues it’s a lot like when I try to play the guitar. It’s painful for anyone who has to watch it and you know that I’m never going to get it right.
Just like me with music, it doesn’t matter who we elect to public office or how much time we give it, when it comes to domestic issues our federal government is never going to get it right.
Fortunately, we don’t have to rely on the federal government to solve those problems for us. That’s what we have state governments for. As small republics, our states are much better equipped to handle their own internal affairs.
We have to realize that our federal and state governments aren’t just different levels of government that are supposed to help each other deal with the same issues. They were intended to serve completely different purposes.
In fact, the roles of the two levels of government are so different that Edmund Pendleton said it’s as if they are parallel lines that would never intersect:
The true distinction is, that the two governments are established for different purposes, and act on different objects; so that, notwithstanding what the worthy gentleman said, I believe I am still correct, and insist that, if each power is confined within its proper bounds, and to its proper objects, an interference can never happen. Being for two different purposes, as long as they are limited to the different objects, they can no more clash than two parallel lines can meet.
The states and the federal government were intended to play completely separate and distinct roles in this country. But can you name even one issue that our states handle entirely on their own without any interference from the federal government? The fact that you can’t easily think of one is proof that we are doing something very, very wrong.
Our Founders warned us that it was impossible for the federal government to effectively manage the day-to-day affairs of a country as large as ours. So now that we’ve transferred responsibility for virtually all domestic policy making to Washington, D.C. it shouldn’t come as any surprise that the federal government has become a complete mess.
If we ever want to start cleaning up that mess, we have to return to a federal system where the federal government focuses on what it does best and allows the states to create their own internal policies without interference.
Chad Kent is an author and speaker with a unique style that makes the Constitution simple and fun. Listen to Chad every Saturday during The Chris Salcedo Show on TheBlaze Radio and visit his web site at www.ChadKentSpeaks.com.
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