Author: Leslie Ann Ferderigos J.D.
HISTORICAL RECAP: From everything I have learned in my education the Constitution came about after the Articles of Confederation in an attempt to bring power back into a central government (because the states were operating too much like separate countries).Yet, I keep hearing people say they are Constitutionalist because they don’t want a strong central government. So my question is if the constitution was created to bring power back to a central government, then why are “constitutionalist” against a strong central government?
LETS HEAR FROM HISTORY GURUS:
The truth is that there are many writings that opine on the proper balance between a stronger federal government and a loose confederation of state governments. This is an excellent post that points out why it is important to understand the principles and not just the rhetoric. Leslie does make a good point. Then, just when you say, “good point”, you debase the whole point by erroneously reducing this to misguided partisanship.
-Lawyer, Mark Longwell
I would suggest reading (if you haven’t) the Federalist Papers for a clearly set out debate and some of the goals of the original American government structure. Although leaning heavily towards ratification of the Constitution, it explores the checks and balances and concerns of the founders. They also offer some critique of why the Articles of Confederation were insufficient and needed some central concentration of power. To your original question, modern “constitutionalist” seem to be like the term and use of modern “liberalism.” A modification from the original term in political philosophy by political commentators. Nothing invalid about either use of the terms, just historically inaccurate. In my thoughts, the modern constitutionalist might be better termed a “Tenth Amendmentist,” (totally made up term) because of the belief in enumerated powers and a belief that the modern federal government has used technicalities to interfere with traditional roles of the States. At this point, I think it is so pervasive that Congress rarely even worries about the technicalities because the American society has gotten so inured to it.
So the next time someone calls themselves a constitutionalist, ask them if they know why the constitution was created?