When we say that we want limited government, exactly what kind of government are we asking for? The answer is: the kind of government that is contained in the Constitution.
The Constitution itself sets forth the rules by which Congress, the President, and the Courts are to conduct themselves in addressing the needs of the country. If you will, it is the handbook of procedural instructions for how the Federal government is supposed to operate. But it is in the Preamble to the Constitution that sets forth the purposes of that government.
The role of the Federal government is “to form a more perfect union [by establishing] justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”
In section 8 of Article 1, the Constitution also gives Congress the authority “to lay and impose taxes,” for the purpose of paying our national debt, for the support of our armed forces, and for the general welfare of the nation. It can also regulate business transactions with foreign countries and those between the states, coin money, “establish Post Offices and post roads” and to issue patents for the purpose of promoting “science and the useful arts.”
To make sure that the Federal government did nothing other than what the Constitution stipulates, an amendment was added that states “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the State, are reserved to the States respectfully, or to the people” (Amendment ten).
What the Tea Party movement wants is for Congress to do no other thing than what the Constitution allows it to do and to let the States do everything else. However, over the years, those who feel constrained by the limited powers that the Constitution authorizes Congress to exercise seek to redefine the meanings of these powers so as to give them broader application for the purpose of allowing those in Congress greater power over our lives. What the Tea Party movement wants is for Congress to adhere to what the Constitution actually says rather than what some people want it to say.
But the only way we can do that is to know for ourselves what powers the Constitution gives Congress and what their intended purpose was. For this reason, Tea Party members must educate themselves on this subject so as to effectively defend their beliefs and to keep from being fooled by the false but sophisticated arguments of others.