Here’s what this is not, a treasure map where “X” marks the spot. This is an article dragging me back into political science, a subject in which I have two degrees, PhD credits (my mother was right…I never finished), and a college course certificate in Urban Affairs. I’ve also worked in politics. Usually, political science is much cleaner a sport than the politics that under-girds it. And that brings us to the X.
This “X” is the 10th amendment of the constitution. Figuring you are so tired from doing nothing, I didn’t want to work up a sweat doing research, so here it is, free of charge as they say:
“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.”
One of the things students are taught in any run-up to constitutional studies is that the United States Constitution is a diminutive piece especially compared to some state constitutions that require a much younger Arnold Schwarzenegger to move them. The reasons for brevity were many. One surely was that dipping a quill into a pot of ink could be messy and time consuming. Another was the strong divide between those of the states’ right faction and the strong Federal government faction. Most believed that left to their own devices, and given the truth, the citizens would fill in the gaps. Finally long tombs of explanation were much harder to interpret and implement than “short and to the point” ones.
Amendment ten was a glaring necessity. Take Postal Services. Thirteen colonies could have different postal prices and stamps. Figuring out how to get a letter from one side of Virginia to the other side of Maryland was mathematical gymnastics and greatly slowed the service. What about trade and tariffs? A transport weighing x going through y and z states could be a real head-scratcher. It was far more practical to know which entity of government had the right to make the rules for what activities. Hence we have the 10th amendment. One of the one’s the president seems to have missed. It tries to clarify who does what about which and when. And it does it fairly simply. This has long been the crutch used by the states’ rights folks against the rest of their tormentors. Suddenly that tables have turned.
Yet the same problems that brought the 10th amendment into being, persisted as the world modernized. Trucks were soon traversing dozens of states What about the airwaves? Then there was that little matter of airplanes. They both carried people and cargo. Overtime the courts stepped in and sorted out some of these things. So now we have for instance the Federal Trade Commission, the International Commerce Commission, the Federal Communications Commission. The courts ruled that these matters were too important and too complex to be allowed to be left as state controlled jig-saw puzzles. They in no way gave the President “total” authority of them, or almost anything. Most simply put, if they did, why would we have/need three co-equal branches of government?
So we come to one of the latest Pogo stick jumps of the current President.
It started out as reminiscent of the ill-fated, and probably misunderstood declaration of General Alexander Haig who hoped to calm everyone after the Reagan assassination attempt by looking into the TV and firmly stating, “I am in charge here.” In fact, in the spot where he was standing he was, until they rustled up the vice-president, who was legally in charge, and made it so. Mr. Trump’s, “I have total authority” had little calming effect. It set off a scene among politicians and lawyers that looked like what happens when you drop chum in the waters when fishing for sharks. When the roiling was over and even highly touted, strongly conservative lawyers adamantly disagreed, suddenly the President was back to being supporter (jock strap?) in chief and the governors would actually have total authority if, when, and how to open their states. They also, in this deft reversal, would be the fall guys for everything that was, is, and will go wrong while the President took a “What? Me Worry?” stance because the governors were so wonderful and responsible and would remember “to be respectful” of the presidency. As Tweety said, “My doodness draycious!”
Where is Rodney King, he of the Indianapolis Five Hundred chase across LA trying to get away from the police? Years later he cried out, “Can’t we all get along here?” Well, that time for his reprise about getting along is now–at least from my perspective.
Trying to figure out what it is that made bedbugs batty, Bill Gralnick continues to climb into his chair every Sunday to provide you with what he hopes you find more than drivel. Drivel or not, more can be found at http://www.williamgralnickauthor.com or https://atleastfrommyperspectiveblog.wordpress.com Details on his current book, “The War of the Itchy Balls and Other Tales From Brooklyn” that has garnered humblingly good reviews can be found on his website or by going directly to Amazon.com or B&N.com. e-book or paperback; your choice. And remember Bill’s refrain. Let’s all say it together, “Read! It’s good for both of us.”