Remember an age when modern Democrat schemes would be laughed out of the room

The deep significance of H.R. 1 is that we no longer live in the Founders' republic. 

In a recent column at American Greatness, Glenn Ellmers describes how H.R. 1 would have fared in the American republic we once had (italics in original):

Instead of the unseemly groveling from the states, objecting to H.R.1, state legislatures could be instructing the Senate to reject this absurd legislation.

The state legislatures certainly would have instructed the Senate to reject H.R. 1, and they could have done so because in the original Constitution, senators were chosen by, and were answerable to, the state legislatures.

The wisdom of the Framers is nowhere more evident than in this feature of their constitutional design.  It was the central pillar of the Framers' vision for how we would rule ourselves by means of a government by, for, and of the people.  As I wrote in my book about the founding entitled Common Sense Nation:

The Senate had been a barrier to the passage of federal laws infringing on the powers reserved to state governments, but the Senate has abandoned that responsibility under the incentives of the new system of election.  Because the states no longer have a powerful standing body representing their interests within the federal government, the power of the federal government has rapidly grown at the expense of the states.

Consequently, the power of the federal government has also rapidly grown at the expense of individual liberty.

The Framers' purpose was a regime of liberty that would endure.  Their challenge was to find a way to prevent the central government from doing what central governments do: take on more and more power, crush liberty, and rule for the benefit of the rulers.  Their brilliant solution was federalism.  Lord Acton, the great historian of liberty, admired their innovation:

Federalism: It is coordination instead of subordination; association instead of hierarchical order; independent forces curbing each other; balance, therefore, liberty.

The direct election of U.S. senators undermined this critically important protection of your liberty and mine.  The result has been the erosion of the liberty that was the Founders' precious gift to each one of us.

The ratification of the 17th Amendment in 1913 changed everything.  It provided for the direct election of senators.  By means of it, the Progressives overthrew the American republic in that year.  Although it is painful to admit, we must acknowledge that the American Progressives took the lead in making the 20th century the horrendous catastrophe for liberty it was.  They got out ahead of both the Bolsheviks in Russia (1917) and the National Fascist Party in Italy (1922).  Not only did the Progressives get going first, they have outlasted the Bolsheviks and the fascists.   The USSR, Hitler's Germany, Mussolini's Italy, and Tojo's Japan are long gone, but Progressivism in America is going from strength to strength, today promising to transform America fundamentally with H.R. 1 and open borders, by abolishing the Electoral College and the 2nd Amendment, and by turning the Supreme Court into a kind of left-wing super-Legislature beyond the reach of the voters.

The Progressives have outdone the communists and the fascists by being by far the cleverest of the three.  They presented the 17th Amendment to the American people in the guise of a "reform."  The Progressives knew what they were doing.  Tragically for America, many ordinary Americans fell for the reform label, not realizing they were actually supporting the abolition of the 10th Amendment.  Here is that great amendment in full:

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 says the powers of the federal government (here referred to as "the United States") are limited to the enumerated powers, the limited powers assigned it in the Constitution; the individual states (here referred to as "the States") retain all their powers not delegated to the federal government. 

The point of the all-important 10th Amendment, the final statement in the Bill of Rights, is that the Founders created a central government of strictly limited powers.  The American people, not realizing what they were doing, threw away this jewel of the American Constitution.  Because of what they did, the Tenth Amendment has become in our time a dead letter.  The 10th Amendment is no longer rooted in the power of the Senate, and you and I have lost an essential safeguard of the American liberty the Founders intended for us.

In 1913, the American Progressives founded the federal Leviathan that today recognizes little or no limits to its powers.

Robert Curry serves on the Board of Directors of the Claremont Institute.  He is the author of Reclaiming Common Sense: Finding Truth in a Post-Truth World and Common Sense Nation: Unlocking the Forgotten Power of the American Idea.  Both are published by Encounter Books. 

Image: Tom Hilton via Flickr, CC BY 2.0.

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