Is National Security Replacing the Commerce Clause as the Basis for Sweeping Federal Power?

The falling away of federalistic principles from government is often linked to the increasingly nationalistic scope of politics. Under the auspices of the commerce clause and the “necessary and proper” clause, federal government officials have been able to rationalize their claim to final regulatory authority over an increasingly wide swathe of issues. The commerce clause gives Congress power to “regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States”. The necessary and proper clause is…

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Is efficacy a laudable political virtue?

Given the place of preeminence the pursuit of happiness holds in American culture, it is perhaps not surprising that contentment seems to be at the height of political virtue. One only needs to peruse the most recent spate of public opinion polls to see the degree to which political energy is focused on individual contentment. Job approval of both the president and of Congress is tracked on a weekly, if not a daily, basis by…

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Congress Is Inept Because It Was Never Meant to Be the Primary Political Problem Solver

There is a strain of modern political thought that equates specialized knowledge and topical expertise with elitism, itself rooted in anti-populism. Such thinking contributes to high levels of political inefficacy as the operational premise of representational government is that legislators, who dedicate their time to informing themselves on issues that affect their constituents, will use their knowledge of both the issues and their constituencies to make political choices calculated to promote the interests of residents…

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The Shutdown Highlights Oligarchic Attitudes in Government

There is perhaps nothing so indicative of an increasingly oligarchic trend in government as language from politicians signaling their actions are oriented around what is most convenient to others of their ranks. By way of example, a recent story in Roll Call detailed how, in the waning hours before the government shutdown took effect, Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) attempted to broker a three-week stop-gap spending measure. Though one might hope his motivation was some respect…

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Re-establishing federalism starts with divorcing national politics from elections

If one believes that many of the shortcomings of today’s politics can ultimately be traced to the abandonment of federalist principles—as tends to typify certain strains of right-wing thought—then the trend in national elections, which primarily subjects candidates running for federal office to scrutiny by other elected officials rather than to the judgment of their constituents, should be an alarming one. It is perhaps telling that while many descry the influence of outside actors, particularly…

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Equal Protection of Rights Needs to Ground Tax Policy Debate

The necessity for citizens to be equal before the law is a concept most often emphasized within the framework of the criminal justice system: Americans clamor, and rightly so, with particular vigor for the ability of each individual to receive a fair and impartial trial, to be judged by the same standard as all others accused of a similar crime. This demand for parity, however, is often absent from debates surrounding the merits of various…

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Presidential Deal-Brokering Threatens Rule of Law

The president has no legislative power. This is confirmed not only by the lack of language in Article II of the Constitution granting the president authority to issue laws, even in times when they may be exigently needed, but also in the rather explicit clause of Article I, Section 1, which states that “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and…

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