I mentioned in my report on where Fred Thompson stands on the abortion issue that his was a Federalist’s interpretation of what role the Federal government has and what it should and shouldn’t take upon itself to do with it. I pointed out that Fred Thompson correctly understands that the Federal government has no role in regulating abortion and that this includes eliminating the anti-constitutional Supreme Court ruling that is Roe v. Wade.

Recently, Ed Morrissey over at Captain’s Quarters posted another great and revealing report on another of Thompson’s commitments to the Federalist ideology. This time it is one where Thompson had turned his attention to the 10th Amendment.

Ed references the Imwithfred blog where Thompson discusses the issue. I’d suggest reading that along with Ed’s commentary here. Thompson On Federalism.

This may seem like a dry issue, not as sexy and high profile as abortion or what have you. But this is an extremely important issue for conservatives to take into consideration when thinking about a candidate. If Thompson truly commits a presidency to the concept of Federalism, we have the best evidence yet of a candidate who will truly try to REDUCE government interference in all our lives.

So, here is Ed Morrissey’s post…


Everyone Talks About The 10th Amendment …
Captain’s Quarters

One of the themes that recurs in Republican politics is federalism, which its proponents use to move power back towards the states and closer to the electorate where it belongs. The 10th Amendment forms the great touchstone of federalism, in which all powers not expressly delegated to the federal government in the Constitution should remain with the states. Small-government advocates argue that the 10th Amendment got overrun by FDR in the New Deal and has never recovered its proper place in limiting federal power.

However, the 10th Amendment has much in common with Mark Twain’s observation about the weather: it gets plenty of discussion, but no one does anything about it. Fred Thompson says he’ll do more than just talk if elected President:

A good first step would be to codify the Executive Order on Federalism first signed by President Ronald Reagan. That Executive Order, first revoked by President Clinton, then modified to the point of uselessness, required agencies to respect the principle of the Tenth Amendment when formulating policies and implementing the laws passed by Congress. It preserved the division of responsibilities between the states and the federal government envisioned by the Framers of the Constitution. It was a fine idea that should never have been revoked. The next president should put it right back in effect, and see to it that the rightful authority of state and local governments is respected.

It is not enough to say that we are “for” federalism, because in today’s world it is not always clear what that means. What we are “for” is liberty for our citizens. Federalism divides power between the states and government in Washington. It is a tool to promote freedom. How we draw the line between federal and state roles in this century, and how we stay true to the principles of federalism for the purpose of protecting economic and individual freedom are questions we must answer. Our challenge – meaning the federal government, the states, our communities and constituents – is to answer these questions together.

Mark Tapscott gets back from his vacation just in time to note the importance of this essay to conservatives looking for a champion in this presidential primary, and maybe not just conservatives:

I often remind my liberal friends in the mainstream media and non-profit advocacy communities who believe Washington has become too secretive that you can have open government or you can have big government, but you can’t have both simultaneously.

Liberals who want the government to be efficient in addressing critical social challenges should recognize the value of the 10th Amendment in assuring that officials can actually address those problems effectively.

It’s encouraging that Thompson seems intent upon moving the presidential campaign towards a debate on first principles. It is too little recognized among the current generation of conservatives that Reagan’s great advantage during his career was that he always sought to put issues and proposals in the context defined by first principles.

I agree with Mark. We hear plenty from Republican candidates about reducing the size of government, accompanied by spending proposals for a new raft of federal programs. That was the absurdity of “compassionate conservativism” — not that conservatism can’t be compassionate, but because in the version offered over the last six years, it’s amounted to a miniature version of the Great Society.

Thompson gives a clear indication of how federalism can apply to today’s government to reduce its reach and to allow more control over self-government by communities and states. The founders included the 10th Amendment because they knew the farther power traveled from the voters, the less accountable the powerful would become. The nightmare bureaucracy of Washington DC today would be their worst nightmare come to life, with its control over all aspects of American life far outside the boundaries of the Constitution.

When I wrote yesterday that Thompson has conducted a philosopher’s campaign, this is what I meant. In his way, Thompson has conducted the most substantive campaign of the cycle. Hopefully, he will continue that effort once he officially enters the race.

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