From Administrative State to Constitutional Government

The administrative state is an assault on constitutional principles—government by consent, the separation of powers, and the rights of individuals—that liberals and conservatives hold dear. The key to reform is that it be grounded in a proper understanding of these principles, not in the hope of immediate short-term gain or narrow selfinterest. If we begin from constitutional principles and can communicate those principles and their relevance to the public in a clear manner, the reforms envisioned in this report are not too far from our grasp. It is high time that Americans work together to forge an alternative to the administrative state so that we preserve our constitutional principles for future generations.

Over the past 100 years, our government has been transformed from a limited, constitutional, federal republic to a centralized administrative state that for the most part exists outside the structure of the Constitution and wields nearly unlimited power. This administrative state has been constructed as a result of a massive expansion of the national government’s power.

When the Founders created our Constitution, they entrusted only limited powers to the national government and specifically enumerated those powers in the Constitution itself. A government that only had to carry out a limited
number of functions could do so through the institutions and procedures established by the Constitution.

But as the national government expanded and began to focus more and more on every aspect of citizens’ lives, the need for a new kind of government—one focused on regulating the numerous activities of citizens rather than on protecting their individual rights—became apparent. In the United States, this new form of government is the administrative state. In Democracy in America , Alexis de Tocqueville warned that under such a government, citizens would become“nothing more than a herd of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.”

As the modern administrative state has grown and metastasized over the past decades, it has taken many forms, to the point of becoming the primary method of politics and policymaking. The myriad agencies and departments that make
up this administrative state operate as a“fourth branch” of government that typically combines the powers of the other three and makes policy with little regard for the rights and views of citizens. In terms of actual policy, most of the action is located in administrative agencies and departments, not in the Congress and the President as is commonly thought. Unelected bureaucrats—not elected representatives—are running the show.

One of the greatest long-term challenges facing the United States is the restoration of limited constitutional government. Central to that objective, and an essential aspect of changing America’s course, is the dismantling of the administrative state that so threatens our self-governing republic.

Full article  From Administrative State to Constitutional Government
by Joseph Postell, Ph.D.

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