Alternet has the Consortium News story How GOP Extortion Is Rooted in Southern Slavery by Robert Parry.
The Federalists despised the concept of states’ rights (as enshrined in the Articles of Confederation) and believed in centralizing power in the federal government, albeit with a system of checks and balances to restrain ill-advised decision-making, but with few other limits on what elected representatives could do for the nation’s well-being.
That is why – in both the Preamble and in Article I, Section 8 (the so-called “enumerated powers”) – the Framers included language giving Congress the authority to “provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States” and “to make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers.”
As historian Jada Thacker has written, “The Constitution was never intended to ‘provide limited government,’ and furthermore it did not do so. … This is not a matter of opinion, but of literacy. If we want to discover the truth about the scope of power granted to the federal government by the Constitution, all we have to do is read what it says.”
Given the malleable phrase “general Welfare” and the so-called “elastic clause” for passing all “necessary and proper” laws, Thacker notes that “the type, breadth and scope of federal legislation became unchained. … Taken together, these clauses – restated in the vernacular – flatly announce that ‘Congress can make any law it feels is necessary to provide for whatever it considers the general welfare of the country.’
As further proof to the point, my fractured High School learning about the Constitution tells me that the Bill of Rights (the first 10 amendments) was insisted upon by the states in order for the Constitution to be accepted. The states (or the people) insisted that their individual rights be explicitly protected from the powers given to the Federal government in the main part of the Constitution.
Of course the book Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James W. Loewen puts some doubt in my mind about what I learned in school about history.