Monday, December 4, 2023

How The American Republic Was Lost - Alexander G. Markovsky


by Alexander G. Markovsky

Blame the Wilsonian progressives and the Seventeenth Amendment


“The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government—lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.” —Patrick Henry

Periodically, the world produces a demonic leader who challenges the legitimacy of established order with force or an ideologue who does the same with utopian ideas. Nevertheless, America’s Founders refused to prevent those people from pursuing political office within the bounds of legality. Instead, with their foresight, they crafted the Constitution not to prevent those individuals’ rise to power but to safeguard against their destructive impulses via constitutional restraints. Unbeknownst to many, though, Wilsonian progressives broke one of those restraints in 1913, mortally wounding the American experiment.

When the Founders set out to keep tyranny from infecting the federal government, two of the most important and interrelated safeguards were the separation of powers and federalism.

Because so many Americans are not fully acquainted with their country’s history, we must revisit the original provisions of the United States Constitution, which laid the foundation for this great country. The U.S. Constitution emanated from the Great Compromise of 1787. At that time, the United States was a union of independent states trading some of their independence for the common defense, collective security, and general welfare.

To preempt usurpation of power, the federal government’s authority was split between three branches of equal weight. Although the Founders did not explicitly articulate in the Constitution itself what they were doing, the overriding impetus was to contain the Executive branch because its control over the armed forces and government bureaucracy meant it had the greatest ability to challenge the other branches of government to alter the established pattern of constitutional authority.

Image: The United States Senate floor. Public domain.

The states, in turn, joined the Union on the condition that their sovereignty would be protected. The House of Representatives was intended to be a “People’s House,” with representatives directly elected by the people in their respective districts. Senators were to be selected by state legislatures to represent the states to ensure their sovereignty.

To emphasize this point, the Senate was never intended to represent the interests of the people per se; it was intended to represent and zealously guard the interests of the states. By giving elective power to the states, the framers of the Constitution had constrained the role of the federal government solely to the responsibilities delineated in the Tenth Amendment:

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.

James Madison, the acknowledged father of the Constitution, explained in Federalist Paper No. 45:

The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives and liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement and prosperity of the State.

Those restraints on the executive were irreparably damaged following the ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment in 1913, on Woodrow Wilson’s watch. That amendment established the direct election of U.S. senators by popular vote. This effectively took power from the states, de facto nullifying the Tenth Amendment.

The senators elected by the people for six-year terms no longer represent the interests of the states. While “we the people” are represented by the House, the senators de facto represent nobody but themselves. They become committed to their respective parties’ agendas and personal gain.

Since then, every president has relentlessly pushed and often succeeded in expanding federal boundaries, resulting in an unstoppable growth of governmental size and influence.

The arrival of the Marxist socialist government of Barack Obama further exposed the fatal flaw of the Seventeenth Amendment. A constitutional scholar, Barack Obama was imbued with a mission to fundamentally change the established order and replace it with an ideologically inspired system. He understood early on that there was practically no legal recourse within the government itself for violating the Constitution and ignoring Congress.

Not bound by constitutional constraints, the socialists began the process of gradually dismantling the established law and order. Institutions of marriage and religion, capitalism, the judicial system, individual liberty, and the English language—all have come under assault after having been branded as antiquated, biased, and intolerant. Moreover, Democrats even altered the voting laws to ensure the Democratic Party’s electoral supremacy.

Some may say that it is an exercise in futility to consider what could happen if… Nevertheless, if not for the Seventeenth Amendment, the Senate would not be controlled by political parties, and the states would have a say in any proposed legislation. Obamacare, the skyrocketing deficit, generous welfare programs, the government-run education system, the departments of Energy and Agriculture, open borders, climate change, and a host of programs and executive orders, plus volumes of intrusive government regulations, would never have seen the light of day.

The Seventeenth Amendment trashed the key provision of the Constitution and made the powers of the federal government infinite and undefined. The immense transfer of power away from the democratically elected representatives of Congress to the executive branch has produced an extraordinary imbalance between power and legitimacy.

That is how the Republic was lost, fatefully fulfilling the grim warning of the second president, John Adams: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

Alexander G. Markovsky is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research, a think tank that examines national security, energy, risk analysis, and other public policy issues. He is the author of Anatomy of a Bolshevik and Liberal Bolshevism: America Did Not Defeat Communism, She Adopted It. Mr. Markovsky is the owner and CEO of Litwin Management Services, LLC. He can be reached at


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