Checking the Powers of Government
I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the rights of the people by the gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. -- James Madison
Government grows gradually, adopts powers quietly and unilaterally puts unexpected policies in place because it can. As F.A. Hayek explains, "By giving the government unlimited powers, the most arbitrary rule can be made legal; and in this way a democracy may set up the most complete despotism imaginable." We are witnessing the despotism Hayek warns of at all levels of government.
Local citizens report serious abuses of taxation and regulation by unaccountable, unelected boards, and lament a crony-based system of judicial appointments. Across the state, Arizonans hold private property rights sacred and boast one of the strictest pro-property constitutions in the nation, yet in the last five years municipalities have gone on a takings rampage. Legislative incumbency rates are upwards of 98 percent, leaving the largely unbridled political class to grow in strength every year, and recent campaign finance limits, such as the federal McCain-Feingold bill and Arizona's Clean Elections system, threaten to further protect incumbents. The Goldwater Institute has sounded the war cry on these and other issues -- but a steady drumbeat is necessary to solidly address and correct them.
The Goldwater Institute is creating a unique Center for Constitutional Government that will serve as a check on the unrestrained power of government, and provide a vision for a balanced, constitutional rule of law. The Center will be comprised of a full-time policy director and a researcher, both yet to be named. Areas of focus will include campaign finance, regulatory bodies, legislative tenure, terms and salary, balance of power among levels of government, processes of judicial appointment and state sovereignty, among others.
The Center for Constitutional Government provides Sponsors a unique opportunity to support a ground-breaking endeavor that will explore and define the proper, constitutional parameters of state and local government and, in doing so, help bring the government's gradual and silent encroachment to a necessary halt.