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Wakefield: Virginia Must Stand Up to Power Grab

10th Amendment Issue

This originally ran in The Richmond Times Dispatch

For years the United States government has been expanding its power, gradually creating a top-down structure in which it rules over the states. This is the exact opposite of how our "We the People" republic was originally designed. The incremental approach of the federal government has been successful for a number of reasons, but ultimately because the governed have not stood up to defend the freedom lawfully granted them under the United States Constitution.

That's about to change.

With the pending health care legislation Washington is determined -- and desperate -- to pass, it is slamming the accelerator to the mat on power expansion. Both the House and Senate versions of the bill require individuals to purchase a minimum level of health insurance as deemed adequate by none other than the government itself. The federal government will completely control the entire system -- and eventually all our health care decisions. The penalty for non-compliance includes thousands of dollars in fines (and even possible jail time, in the House version).

Most of us agree that the health care system needs reform to lower costs and increase accessibility, but the House and Senate bills do neither. That's why polls consistently show high support for reform, but abysmal support for this reform. Despite that, our legislators are doing everything they can to pass a bill anyway. And there's a good chance they'll succeed.

In the 220 years since Congress began, though, never has it required the American people to purchase a product or service simply for being alive. And once we allow it to dictate to us what we must buy, whether we want to or not, we open a dangerous arena of government control over our decisions.

Thankfully, it doesn't have the authority to do this. Nowhere does the Constitution grant legislators the power to mandate purchasing a product or service. And under the 10th Amendment, states have the legal authority and, indeed, the responsibility to stand up and reject this type of power grab.

And that's exactly what's happening now that people are figuring out the game that's being played. States all over the country are preparing to act on legislation that will strengthen their standing, and protecting themselves against an overreaching federal government.

To this end in Virginia, two important bills will be considered in the upcoming legislative session: the Health Care Freedom Act (HB 10) and the Firearms Freedom Act (HB 69). The former will protect Virginians from being taxed and imprisoned for not purchasing health care they don't want, and the latter will dictate that firearms manufactured and purchased in Virginia are beyond federal control.

Regardless of how one may feel about health care and firearm issues, support for both these bills is critical, because they address the broader issue of strengthening Virginia to protect its residents from a federal government intent on controlling every aspect of our lives. And the longer states wait to stand up, the harder it will be, as Washington will continue to grow more powerful and intrusive, ultimately transforming this nation into something we don't recognize -- and don't want.

But both Virginia bills do stand a real chance of passing, as state representatives are far more responsive and likely to act on our concerns than those at the federal level. The speaker of the House has already pledged his support along with -- at the time of this writing -- 15 co-patrons of the health bill and six co-patrons of the firearms bill.

Neither is guaranteed. Our representatives -- especially the various committee members involved -- in the House and Senate must hear from as many people as possible supporting these two measures. A large volume of calls and e-mails from constituents is not something they're used to. It will have an impact.

They're also about to get something else they're not used to. On Monday, Jan. 18 (Martin Luther King Jr. Day), an all-day lobbying session at the State Capitol building has been arranged. Starting at 9 a.m., residents from across Virginia will swarm the General Assembly, delivering letters to their representatives, urging them to support these bills that uphold the 10th Amendment and strengthen Virginia. A rally will be held from 10-11 a.m. at the Bell Tower.

For an event like this at the Capitol, 300-500 people is considered a huge turnout. Organizers of the 10th Amendment event are expecting 2,000. If that many do turn out, our representatives will be shocked and far more likely to support these crucial bills.

So let's shock them.

Jonathan Wakefield works in IT at Media General. This column does not necessarily represent the views of Media General or any of its subsidiaries. Contact Wakefield at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

RELATED: Tenth Amendment Website

10th Amendment Pledge


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