If you’ve read the last few posts in my Constitution Revolution series, you’ve probably noticed a bit of a theme: How the Constitution protects us from the government.
I’ve talked about the fact that the way Congress is structured, the impeachment process, and even the process we have for deciding how our elections are held were all designed in ways that protect us from the government.
At this point you might be thinking, “That’s all great, but is that the only topic you’re covering? Why aren’t you talking about any of powers that the federal government has?!”
That’s a great question.
So far I’ve covered the Constitution from Article 1, Section 1 all the way through Article 1, Section 6 and I’ve only made one brief mention of a power that was granted to the federal government (and I won’t make another one until we get to Article 1, Section 8 in a couple of weeks).
There’s a very good reason for that. When we’re dealing with government, it’s extremely important to make sure that we are very careful in deciding what powers we will allow the government to use. But as important as that is, it is every bit as important - if not more so - to make sure that we take appropriate steps to protect ourselves from how those powers might be used.
If you think about it, it should be easy to see why. A government is a group of people that we grant the power to make rules for what you can’t do or what you must do; the power to use force to put you in prison; and even the power to take your money away. When you have a group of people in society who have that kind of power, it’s critical for us as private citizens to be very careful to keep that power in check. Otherwise, it could turn very bad for us very quickly.
With that in mind, let’s turn our attention to Article 1, Section 7. The first clause in this section gives us another very powerful tool that we can use to protect ourselves from the people in our government.
Here is the text:
“All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other Bills.”
This clause is saying that any bill that will raise revenue - or raise money - for the federal government has to start out in the House of Representatives. That puts the House in a very strong position when it comes to negotiating how our government will be funded.
The reason why that matters is because the House is supposed to be the voice of the people in the federal government. Our representatives are the part of the federal government that is most directly accountable to you and me and they have to face re-election every two years.
So if any part of our federal government does something that the American people really don’t like, at election time we can choose to replace our representative with someone who will refuse to fund the government until that problem gets fixed. That can be a very powerful tool if we ever choose to use it.
I understand that it might seem a little unrealistic to believe that the people of this country would come together and collectively vote their members of Congress out of office in order to get one policy changed.
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But that’s basically what we saw in 2010. Our politicians in Washington, D.C. rammed through an Obamacare law that most of us didn’t want. So at election time we saw a tidal wave of new people being voted into office - with most of them campaigning on a promise to repeal that horrific law.
In this case, the House of Representatives would have been perfectly justified in using the power of the purse that is granted to it in Article 1, Section 7 by refusing to fund the government until Obamacare was repealed. Congress used unethical tactics to pass an unpopular law that would negatively affect the daily lives of millions of people. So American voters made it very clear that their disapproval with this law was the reason they were throwing their incumbent representative out of office.
It’s a near perfect example of how the American people can assert their will under our Constitution.
Unfortunately, the leaders of both parties and the mainstream media joined forces to lecture us about how radical it would be for our representatives to actually do what the American people sent them to Congress to do. As you know, most of those new representatives caved in to the ridicule and allowed Obamacare to stand.
It’s funny how the Washington Beltway types never think it’s radical when government uses its overwhelming power to take advantage of individual citizens or to destroy the property rights of innocent families. It’s only radical when the people of this country use the tools provided for us in the Constitution to try to regain some of the power that has been taken from us. It almost makes you think they don’t have our best interests in mind.
Of course, that’s because they don’t. Regardless of what our politicians say on the campaign trail, they don’t have your best interests in mind. Human nature tells us that when our politicians go out to Washington, D.C they are going to serve their own interests, not yours. So it shouldn’t have come as any surprise when the Permanent Political Class tried to shame us for attempting to limit their power in 2010.
Our public officials have a breathtaking amount of power today - and by now it should be painfully clear that they are not on our side. That’s why it makes such a difference when regular American citizens take the time to learn about the tools that our Constitution provides us to protect ourselves from our government.
When we are armed with an understanding of what those tools are, how they work and why, that gives us the knowledge we need to use them effectively. And just as importantly, it gives us the confidence we need to stay strong when the Permanent Political Class belittles and mocks us for demanding a government that is actually accountable to the people it serves.
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, visit his web site at www.ChadKentSpeaks.com, and like his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/theconstitutionguy.
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