letter to the editor in the Los Angeles Times demonstrates the lack of understanding of the Constitution that unfortunately characterizes many, if not most, Americans. 

The letter writer states: “We should demand that all elected officials commit to fighting to end the pandemic, and that includes mandating vaccination, masks, hand washing and social distancing.”

The letter writer points to the language in the preamble to the Constitution to justify this extraordinary power: “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

The letter writer specifically emphasizes the part that says “promote the general welfare.” He states, “Yes, one of the Constitution’s purposes is to “promote the general welfare.”

That’s a wrongheaded view of the Constitution, but it’s a popular one, one that is unfortunately inserted into the minds of children in the public (i.e., government) schools.

The purpose of the Constitution was to call into existence the federal government. The purpose  of calling the federal government into existence is set forth in the preamble, which is set forth above. 

But this was not going to be a government of general powers. If it had been, there is no possibility that the American people would have approved the Constitution, in which case they would have continued operating under the Articles of Confederation, under which they had been operating for more than 10 years. 

Under the Articles, there was a federal government, but its powers were extremely weak. The federal government didn’t even have the power to tax people. Imagine that! The federal government operated for a decade without the power to tax!

That’s the way the American people wanted it. They didn’t want a federal government that wielded much power. They wanted the opposite. They wanted a federal government that wielded very little power over their lives and fortunes.

Therefore, Americans would never have approved the Constitution if it was calling into existence a federal government with the power to “promote the general welfare.” That would obviously mean that the federal government could exercise virtually any power it wanted.

Instead, the promoters of the Constitution made it clear to the American people that the Constitution was calling into existence a government whose powers were few and limited. The only powers it could legally exercise were enumerated within the Constitution itself.

It goes without saying that if the Framers had intended to call into the existence a federal government with the power to “promote the general welfare,” it would have made no sense to enumerate and delegate certain limited powers to the federal government. The fact that the limited powers of the federal government were expressly set forth within the document negates the notion that the Framers’ intent was to call into existence a federal government of general, unlimited powers that would necessarily come with “advancing the general welfare.”

Today’s Americans have no real idea as to how radically different their mindsets are compared to the mindsets of Americans in 1791. Today’s Americans love the federal government. It’s essentially their god or at least their daddy, one whose job is to take care of them and provide for their well-being. That’s why they see no problem in vesting the federal government with whatever powers are necessary to “advance the general welfare.”

The Americans who approved the Constitution, on the other hand, had a deep distrust of the federal government. They didn’t want it to take care of them. They wanted to be independent and self-reliant. 

We can easily see these two different mindsets in the types of programs, departments, and agencies under which today’s Americans live: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public (i.e., government) schooling, Federal Reserve, fiat (i.e., paper) money, immigration controls, farm subsidies, education grants, Pentagon, military-industrial complex, CIA, NSA, FBI, drug war, economic regulations, minimum-wage laws, welfare, foreign military bases, torture, coups, assassinations, and other aspects of the welfare-warfare state way of life that characterizes modern-day America.

Our Americans ancestors, on the other hand, rejected all those things. That’s why there was none of that junk for around 100 years after the federal government was called into existence. If Americans in 1791 had been told that the Constitution was bringing into existence a federal government with the powers to establish a welfare-warfare state like Americans live under today, they would have laughed. They would have thought it was a joke. As previously pointed out, they would have summarily rejected the Constitution and continued operating under the Articles of Confederation, where, again, the federal government didn’t even have the power to tax.

The best thing Americans today could do is dismantle the welfare-warfare state governmental system under which we live and restore America’s founding governmental system of a limited government republic to our land.

This article was originally published at the Future of Freedom Foundation and is republished here with permission.

Jacob Hornberger
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