As a farmer and a student of American history, few things are as satisfying as wrapping up the last few weeks’ harvest at my family’s hop farm in Central Washington. Thomas Jefferson once wrote to John Adams in 1787: “I think our governments will remain virtuous for many centuries; as long as they are chiefly agricultural.” While I admit some bias, I tend to agree. 240 years into the experiment of American democracy, we enjoy the fruition of the efforts of citizen farmers such as Jefferson and Adams, who played prominent roles in founding the United States by planting the seeds of our nation’s future. While our country’s economy has become less rural and agricultural, the extent to which our national government has adhered to the rule of law and framework set by those citizen farmers has allowed us to flourish as a free people.
Today, Americans are still revolutionary in our distrust of arbitrary, centralized government that could in any way mirror the abuses under British colonial rule. We understand the importance of safeguarding the boundaries that preserve our limited government and keep it accountable to the people. The framers of the Constitution intended to prevent the abuse of federal power by delineating the three branches of legislative, executive, and judicial authority. Crossing those lines may not lead to subjective rule overnight, but it erodes the rule of law that upholds our freedoms.
Even a democratic form of government can cross lines, which is why Article I of the Constitution lays out the limited duties of Congress. The Founders designated Congress, the legislative branch, as the most responsive and accountable to the will of the people. Article I stipulates that “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives [emphasis added].” Unfortunately, we live during a critical point in our history, when legislative authority of the people’s elected representatives has been disregarded by a flood of executive orders and regulations crafted by unelected bureaucrats. The need to restore Article I legislative authority is critical to upholding the people’s voice in representative government. Republicans are advancing a Better Way agenda to put our nation back on the right path by reviving the constitutional balance of our government.
Our American Constitution is the oldest single governing document in the world. We uphold it not because of a magical arrangement of words, but due to the prudence of its design and the seriousness of the American people in safeguarding its principles one generation after the other. Even as our country becomes less rural and agricultural, we can still be a people who flourish by preserving the rule of law set up by our forebears.