The 16th Amendment was the first to be passed in the 20th century. It allowed incomes to be taxed as a clear response to the Supreme Court decision in the Pollock v Farmers' Loan and Trust Company (Fonder and Shaffrey 2002). Congress previously passed an income tax law in 1894, which the Supreme Court found to be unconstitutional, not being divided among the states by population. Before the 16th Amendment, the Constitution protected citizens in Article 1, Section 9, which provided that no capitation, or other direct tax chall be laid, unless in proportion to the census or enumeration. This protection was eliminated with the passage and ratification of the 16th Amendment, which gave Congress the power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the States and without regard to census or enumeration. Before the 16th Amendment, taxation was based on consumption and not income. Tax based on consumption would be a security against excess, according to Alexander Hamilton. Taxation should be restricted to support and finance only those expenses constitutionally reserved for the central government. Current progressive income tax penalizes hard work and success in the free market and also discourages economic growth by burdening consumers and the private sector.
Resolution by Rep. Ron Paul of Texas seeks to amend the Constitution in abolishing personal income, estate and gift taxes and prohibiting the U.S. Government from competing with its citizens. It would eliminate the government's prerogative to levy inequitable taxes and conform more closely to constitutionally defined structure. The 16th Amendment should be replaced with a national sales tax, accompanied by reductions in government expenditures, guided by Constitutional parameters for central government activity.
When declaring their independence from Britain in 1776, the colonies reacted against the British unitary system and the concentration of all political and economic power in London. A product of that reaction was the creation of the Articles of Confederation by the states, which moved virtually all powers to the states (College Board Advanced Placement Program). The framers of the Constitution attempted to balance potential tyranny by a unitary system with potential chaos by the confederal system through a hybrid federal system in the Constitution. Federalism, then, worked to preserve freedoms while maintaining order in the new nation. But knowing that they could not construct a comprehensive list of powers for the national or state governments, the founders produced a "necessary and proper clause" to Article 1, which gave Congress the power "to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers."
Federalism is good in that it can mobilize political activity for citizens to be heard. If local officials refuse to listen, citizens may raise their appeal to the state or national level. It prevents interest groups from forcing their will upon less powerful groups. Small groups have a better chance of getting heard and influencing legislation. Diverse policies among states encourage experimentation and creativity. Uniform laws do not make sense in many areas. Federalism, on the other hand, creates confusion in political activity because of the various levels of government. Small but fiery motivated interest groups can hamper the will of the majority for a prolonged period of time. Diverse policies among states conduce to inequality between citizens of different states and create confusion, such as in matters like speed limits.
The drafting of the first federal constitution, called the Articles of Confederation, by the 13 new American states on July 12, 1776 was guided by the lesson learned from their colonial experience under the centralized government of Great Britain (Superintendent of Documents 2003). The framers, thus, carefully endowed the states with as much independence as possible and explicitly limited the functions of the federal government to avoid a recurrence. But the Articles underwent many revisions for several years before final adoption on November 15, 1777. Causes for the delays included a preoccupation with the Revolutionary War and disagreements among the 13 states on matters like boundary line, equal representation in Congress with larger states, state taxation according to population, the control of western territories. The Articles created a nation, which was to be "a league of friendship and perpetual union," and under this structure, state governments retained most of their power and gave the central government only a subordinate position. As a result, the central government lost respect and could not accomplish much because of its loss of jurisdiction over the states and individuals.
The central government consisted of delegates from the states whose measures needed to be approved by 9 out of the 13 states (Superintendent of Documents 2003). Due to its limited power, it could not collect taxes to raise money, could not control foreign commerce and could not force the states to comply with the laws it passed. The central government was dependent on the states, which often refused to cooperate. George Washington described it as "a little more than the shadow without the substance." The Articles were virtually impossible to amend and problems could, then, not be solved. The framers soon realized the need for a stronger federal government and replaced the Articles with the Constitution of the United States in 1789.
Political parties are the most representative and inclusive organizations in the United States (Baker 2005). Made of citizens of various races, religion, age and economic and social backgrounds, these share perspectives on public issues and leaders. They are the fuel that drives the election machinery. Political parties recruit candidates for office, organize primary elections for selection by party members for the general election, and support those who reach the general election. These write platforms that state the direction the party members want for the government. They have played the important role of education Americans about issues and in motivating them to get out and vote.
The Founders did not favor political parties, which they viewed as factions out to manipulate the voters' will. But political parties became the most important political organizations in the U.S. In the 19th century. These made sure their members went to the polls and voted and also organized members of Congress into strong voting blocs according to party affiliation. These blocs, in turn, united the legislators and helped the president create an alliance between the executive and legislative branches. These political powers became powerful enough in the 19th century to actually influence voting turnout to more than 80%. The two major parties in the U.S. have been the Republican and the Democratic Parties (Baker).
Today, political parties are not very powerful or important (Baker 2005). A little more than a third of all Americans are independent votes with no party affiliation. Voting in presidential election went down to 50%. Political party platforms have also turned vague and assumed moderate positions on issues so that their stands appear similar. Many voters have, as a result, lost interest in political parties (Baker).
Democrats want the government to play a more active role, while Republicans want to limits its role (Fonder and Shaffrey 2002). Democrats more vocally support government programs with direct impact to the daily lives of Americans, such as welfare and Medicare. Republicans prefer that private companies and individuals make their own decisions because they know better what is best for them than do bureaucrats in Washington DC. Democrats, for example, want a national system of education, wherein standards would be the same in all states. They believe that the government knows what is best for the people. But Republicans believe that the government should have less involvement and control and that the people should decide for themselves. Democrats and Republicans differ in important issues that affect the people, such as the minimum wage, gun control and abortion.
Democrats have always favored an increase in minimum wages, while Republicans always wanted them to remain at current level (Fonder and Shaffrey 2002). As a result, most minimum wagers tend to vote Democratic while employers are inclined to be Republican. Democrats are also mostly pro-choice in the issue of abortion, while Republicans are mostly pro-life and reject abortion. Most of the debates on the abortion issue have centered on the later-term abortion procedure, which the House and the Senate passed many times during the Clinton administration, but which pro-choice Clinton vetoed. President Bush expressed willingness to sign a bill that would outlaw the procedure, but Congress has not passed one. Most Republicans also interpret the Second Amendment as protecting the people's right to bear arms, but most Democrats maintain the Second Amendment was meant for the militia, not the individual. The differences in views between the two major parties are clear and need not present greater contrast.
The downward trend of less party affiliation and less party voting proceeded from the simple argument that one did not need to be a Republican or a Democrat to pave a road (Shipper). Those who favor nonpartisan elections claim that the job of a member of the city council is not to…