Richard Stengel, the editor of Time magazine and a former CEO of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, has an essay in Time about the Constitution:
Nor are we in danger of flipping the Constitution on its head, as some of the Tea Party faithful contend. Their view of the founding documents was pretty well summarized by Texas Congressman Ron Paul back in 2008: "The Constitution was written explicitly for one purpose — to restrain the federal government." Well, not exactly. In fact, the framers did the precise opposite. They strengthened the center and weakened the states. The states had extraordinary power under the Articles of Confederation. Most of them had their own navies and their own currencies. The truth is, the Constitution massively strengthened the central government of the U.S. for the simple reason that it established one where none had existed before.
If the Constitution was intended to limit the federal government, it sure doesn't say so. Article I, Section 8, the longest section of the longest article of the Constitution, is a drumroll of congressional power. And it ends with the "necessary and proper" clause, which delegates to Congress the power "to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof." Limited government indeed.
It is true that the framers, like Tea Partyers, feared concentrated central power more than disorder. They were, after all, revolutionaries. To them, an all-powerful state was a greater threat to liberty than discord and turbulence. Jefferson, like many of the antifederalists, did think the Constitution created too much centralized power. Most of all, the framers created a weak Executive because they feared kings. They created checks and balances to neutralize any concentration of power.
The Hoover Institution's Thomas Sowell doesn't think much of Mr. Stengel's essay, calling it "a toxic blend of the irrelevant and the erroneous." Writes Mr. Sowell:
From the irrelevant to the erroneous is a short step for Mr. Stengel. He says, "If the Constitution was intended to limit the federal government, it certainly doesn't say so."
Apparently Mr. Stengel has not read the Tenth Amendment: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
I'd add that the very act of enumerating the powers limits the federal government to the enumerated powers. And that it's not just the Tenth Amendment, but many other amendments in the Bill of Rights, that limit the federal government.