WHAT Tenth Amendment?

Throughout my adult life I’ve had the privilege (and often the punishment) of working with a pot full of politicians. Over the years, I’ve been involved in policy-making from the local level all the way to Washington, D. C. and, from my experience – and I am duty bound to tell you this – there’s not much hope for these guys. Worse, there’s not much hope for you either – but more about that down page.
The political mind, with which I am either blessed or cursed, is a curious animal. In the beginning, while still a politi-cub, the politician glows with the aura of altruism. He is alight with the spirit of service to mortal men and fortified with a righteousness born of a mission to make the world a better place. Sadly, very shortly into the career of your average public servant, an unsettling event occurs.
At the precise moment in which Joe Politico realizes that his happy new job won’t last forever and that somewhere in the back of his rosy future lurks the specter of re-election, Joe’s righteousness sails right out the window. Joe suddenly becomes bent on the all-important business of making new voter friends and sealing the election deal. His every move from the momentous day of his enlightenment forward, Joe is for sale.
Don’t be too hard on Joe. Joe’s not a bad guy. Joe is simply human. He sincerely believes he can set the world to right if only he is able to remain in office for just one more term and, in the manner of Machiavelli, one of the world’s most renowned politicians, Joe begins to believe that the end justifies the means.
Fortunately for us, the framers of our Constitution understood and anticipated this dark side of human nature and made provision for the inevitable soiling of the body politic in our Constitution.
Thomas Jefferson and the boys knew that when Joe runs amok and is allowed to politi-cat around without very close supervision and/or extreme accountability, the institution of Democracy suffers. They knew that, left for any length of time with all that intoxicating power, a collection of these feral beasts can bleed the life from an entire economy and leave nothing but destruction and misery in their wake. Wisely, the framers of our Constitution built our form of government around one simple rule. In order for Democracy to work, the governing must be done as close to home as possible. This way, the people have the opportunity to buttonhole the wayward politician at the local barber shop and ‘splain things to him. That, patriot friends, is what the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution is all about. Keeping a close rein on what can be a fearful and most dangerous of monsters – the full-grown, streetwise politician.
It has been my experience that politicos of all stripes can ignore your letters and they can blow off your phone calls. In fact, they rarely even read their messages from ordinary citizens like you and me. They have staffers to do that. But when you, the voter, show up on their doorstep with your list of grievances, the politician snaps instantly and contritely to attention. The closer the politician is to his constituents, the better the equality of his governance. (This concept also applies to teenage boys, by the way. They cannot be trusted out of your sight nor left to their own devices. For this reason, the wise parent keeps the kids on a very short leash.)
In case you hadn’t noticed, Washington DC is several leash-lengths away. That, my friends, is part and parcel of the problem and precisely why there is a tenth amendment to our Constitution which expressly forbids politicians who operate far, far away from the home front from taking indecent liberties with our freedoms and our cash.
Today, with the meaning of the tenth amendment largely forgotten, we read horrifying stories about bailouts and socialized health care. Without much effort we can experience in Technicolor and surround-sound the worst possible example of politi-cats gone wild just by watching the news. What’s happening in Washington these days is a taxpayer’s worst nightmare. Somehow, probably because the majority of us have been sleeping at the wheel we have, in this Nation, a situation in which not only are the politicians for sale, but so are the majority of the voters! For a fat welfare check, a tasty real-estate loan or a little something to tide your banking institution through a hard financial time, politico’s can cheerfully purchase term after term of absolute power and, all with somebody else’s money. What a bargain!
To make matters worse, those of us who can still claim some shred of reason have, in large part, abdicated our responsibility to take these animals of our own creation – otherwise known as our “representatives” – to task. We have been negligent far too long!
Government, my friends, is a full-contact sport. Like the job of parenting, it requires daily attention and constant corrections to course. If your “representatives” are not doing their job and, trust me, they are not, it’s up to you to let them know. You wouldn’t hire some stranger off the street to run your business then leave him completely without supervision to drive you into bankruptcy. How is the business of running this great nation any different? How can you expect your elected representatives to rise above human nature – to remember and practice your value system – if you are not in regular communication with them??
Somebody once told me, “The world is run by those who show up.” That’s a fact. If the only authoritative figures your elected officials hear from each day are sleazy lobbyists, you’ve got to expect them to rub off on each other. (Ewwww! How much worse can it get?) Is this what you want your legacy to be? Will you leave behind a country in which freedom and equality is for sale to the highest bidder – a place where home-grown values are sacrificed regularly on the altar of socialism? This is not a flight of fancy or a bad dream, friends. This is our new reality.
If you’re not part of the “IN” crowd – IN-volved, IN-formed, and ideologically IN-vested – then you’ve sold out already. Shame on you!