It’s a quaint and probably naive observation to make, but the United States Constitution speaks rather forcefully on the topic of an overreaching central government:
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.
I am not a Constitutional ScholarTM (All rights reserved: Barack Obama: 2008 ), but it seems to me that absent the specific granting of authority to the federal government, that the states have legal control.
Here the author is most exercised by the 17th Amendment (direct election of senators), but the trend has been clear since the War of The Rebellion; the accretion of power by the federal government and the creation of a vast regulatory state by exercise of this power.
I have never been in real quicksand, and you probably haven’t been, either. But many of us have the sense that our constitutional republic is sinking into a kind of political quagmire—what James Madison in Federalist 48 memorably called an “impetuous vortex.”
When one part of the framer’s constitutional arrangement tried to exert “an overruling influence over the others,” Madison warned, no “parchment barriers” would be sufficient to keep it under control. Instead, the founders’ specific intention was for other parts of the system—including the people themselves—to assert their powers and prerogatives and restore a proper balance.
I am less confident than the author that the state legislatures were or are capable of controlling the United States Senate and its increasingly unhinged behavior, but the point is a solid one; there are other avenues by which the People can return some semblance of sanity to our political process.
And paradoxically, one of those ways is the election of strong and philosophically grounded governors. Notice the “and,” because that is a very important bit of grammar.
We have powerful governors, and New Yorkers will sadly raise their hands and proclaim, “Be careful what you wish for!” But the comparison of Cuomo The Geriatricidal Groper and Governor DeSantis of Florida is an apt one. Cuomo’s lust for and accumulation of power was as a partner with the federal government’s worst impulses. Governor DeSantis carefully and logically pushes back against the insinuation of federal control over state issues. Even semi-disgraced executives like Abbott of Texas and Noem of South Dakota have been successful. Hell, Governor Kemp of Georgia, with his minimal pushback against the destruction of robust voting has been a (barely) net positive.
There are a few others, but we need more. Returning power to the states via a powerful executive branch is a delicate balancing act, and we will undoubtedly get more than one Cuomo. But refocusing our attentions to States Rights and the original construction of the country may be our best chance. Just look at the current climate in Iowa and Texas: Constitutional Carry is now the law in Iowa and is pending in Texas, and that is at least in part a reaction to the overreach in Washington and specifically the Memory-Care wing of the White House.
Would we all love to see senators brought to rein ore even recalled by the state legislatures? Sure. Of course! But the 17th Amendment isn’t going anywhere…our best option is the governors’ mansions, not the legislatures.