Subject: America’s Guiding Principle #6: Federalism
Jeremiah 17:5 “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord.’”
Last Wednesday, New York City mayor Anthony Cuomo told us what he thinks of America: “We’re not going to make America great again. It was never that great.” At the crux of the issue with the Progressive movement is a disdain for this country – a deep-seeded need, as former President Obama once said, to “fundamentally transform” it. As radio talk show host Mark Levin once stated, “For someone to say they want to transform this country means you don’t love your country. When you love your wife, you don’t say ‘I want to fundamentally transform you’.” The two targets of the Progressive movement’s assault on America are the Bible and the Constitution. They think both are outdated for today’s “progressive” America.
I wonder what the reaction would be from leaders on the Progressive side if you simply asked them, “Do you believe the Bible is God’s Word, and Jesus Christ is God’s Son who died for your sins?” To be accepted into Progressivism means to elevate man above Jesus Christ. It means, as our verse this week says, to “trust in man” – in ourselves – as the source of goodness and the answer to our moral problems.
Those of us who have put our trust in Jesus Christ know that trusting in men for moral guidance is a recipe for disaster. History over and over again has confirmed this to be true. Trusting in mankind to deliver us from our corrupt nature has never worked. Just study the fate of Rome under the Caesars, Greece, Nazi Germany, Mussolini’s Italy, the Soviet Union. There is not a single historical example of a society whose citizens trusted in a dictatorship and that ruler didn’t enforce their own abusive will on everyone else.
In fact, our Declaration of Independence was preceded by Thomas Jefferson’s list of King George III’s 27 abuses against the colonies. Here are a few of them: “He has made Judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and amount and payment of their salaries. He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies, without the consent of our Legislature. He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to the civil power. He has cut off our trade with all parts of the world. He has imposed taxes on us without our consent. He has deprived us, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury. He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.” Our founders understood the peril of a tyrannical government. Regardless of what the mayor of New York thinks, our founding fathers created the greatest nation the world has ever seen. In doing so, they implemented the sixth guiding principle of our Constitution: Federalism.
The genius behind Federalism is that, as a form of government, only certain powers were given to government and all remaining powers stayed with the states. At the Constitutional Convention, the delegates rejected any form of a national government that ruled over the states. But they also recognized that a national government was needed for national defense and to resolve state disputes.
The vision of our Founding Fathers formed the foundation for our Constitution: individual states must retain as much sovereign power as possible, and the federal government must have limited authority, with its sole purpose being to secure the rights of its citizens to “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
This vision was deeply rooted in the biblical doctrine of man’s depravity. They all had a fear of a federal government with too much power that would, because of man’s inherent sinful nature, result in the misuse of that power. Their goal was to ensure the federal government would never get an opportunity to exercise oppression and tyranny over the people whom its sole purpose is to protect.
In Federalist Paper No. 45, James Madison (the primary author of the Constitution) explained how the Constitution has been designed to protect States rights by limiting government power: “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the Federal Government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State Governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, such as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects, which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties and properties of the people; and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.”
While the goal of the Progressive movement is to marginalize the biblical and Constitutional origins of the United States, the goal of the American people should be to uphold the biblical teaching of the dignity of each and every American as a unique creation of God, held accountable to God for their behavior.
Ed Croteau is a resident of Lee’s Summit and hosts a weekly study in Lees Summit called “Faith: Substance and Evidence.” He can be reached with your questions through the Lee’s Summit Tribune at Editor@lstribune.net.