You’ve perhaps heard the pejorative term “birthers,” used by defenders of President Obama’s qualification for his office as a native-born American to describe those who demanded proof of that qualification. Now there’s apparently a similar pejorative, “tenthers,” used for those who advocate adherence to the Tenth Amendment. If you search the archives here on the Plucked Chicken, you may find references to the Tenth Amendment. Since before the last presidential election, my appreciation for that amendment has been growing significantly, as well as my disappointment in the myriad ways it has been ignored since well before my lifetime.
The reason progressives don’t like the Tenth Amendment is because it stands in the way of statism on the part of the federal government. Put another way, it helps to keep the federal government, well, federal, which means strictly limited. The Tenth Amendment is in the Bill of Rights not because it reserves individual rights — which makes it unusual in that honored company — but because it requires the states to be involved in the protections of individual rights, each in its own semi-sovereign way.
So I guess I was a tenther when tenthers weren’t cool. In case anyone reading this has a problem with that, I have a suggestion for another pejorative you might use for me and others like me. It follows from the fact that the qualifications for the office of President as well as the Tenth Amendment are found in the same document: the Constitution of the United States. Why don’t you start calling people like me “constitutioners?” I suppose it doesn’t roll off the lips like a good pejorative should, but it’s really what you’re getting at with the other terms, isn’t it? You object to those who advocate that our government should be defined and limited by the Constitution, as originally written and amended.
I should offer the caveat that our Constitution and its amendments are not perfect. Yet the Constitution is about as good as we can expect in a fallen world, and it serves well the role of limiting the evils of statist tyranny that inevitably rise up in any centralized government. The Constitution is one successful attempt to establish a government compatible with the Christian conscience, and protecting the individual freedoms implied by Christian morality.