Restoring Balance in Government - It's Like Riding a Bike!

Imagine you forgot your bicycle out in a dusty field for many years. When a friend asks if he can ride your bicycle, you tell him where to find it, but that it might need a “little” maintenance before he takes it out for a ride.

Your friend looks your bike over and sees that the whole thing is covered in dust and rust, and that the back tire is completely flat. Undaunted, he takes out his bicycle pump and begins to pump air into the already bloated front tire. He then jumps on the bicycle and starts trying to pedal with reckless abandon.

In this condition, how far do you think your friend will get on your bike? Do you think he would fare any better if he took the road a little to the left, or maybe a little to the right? Maybe a different, stronger rider would make a difference?

Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? 


Yet, that’s exactly what’s happening with our unique governing system. We keep trying to find new riders, or go a little to the left or a little to the right. Not surprisingly, our rusty bicycle with the seriously imbalanced tires never seems to get out of the dusty field.

You see, the Founders designed our governing system like a bicycle, with two separate governing spheres; state and national governments – just like two tires on a bicycle. The owner’s manual, the U.S. Constitution, detailed the air pressure required for each tire – “few and defined” for the federal tire, and “numerous and indefinite” for the states’ tire. (James Madison, Federalist Papers #45). 

This system of governing is called federalism. In America, this detailed division and balance of the sovereign power of the people between these two governing spheres – American Federalism – is unique to the world.

Today, however, the pressure in the federal tire is anything but “few and defined” - it’s more like bloated and about to explode! The States’ tire is not any better. Rather than having air pressure that is “numerous and indefinite,” the States’ tire seems almost entirely flat.

Since you first elected me to the Utah House, I have been working tirelessly on repairing our governing “bicycle.” This is the reason state legislators are required to swear an oath under Article VI to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. State legislators are under a constitutional oath to maintain and defend our unrivaled system that “secure[s] the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”

In my first session I passed HB76, the Federal Law Evaluation and Response Act and HB138, Federal Receipts Reporting Requirements. In 2012, HB148, The Transfer of Public Lands Act. In 2013, HB131, Constitutional and Federalism Defense Act. In 2014, HB120, Continuing Education on Federalism. In 2015, HB326, Federal Funds Commission Extension.


In 2016, as chairman of the Federalism Commission, we collaborated with the great folks from Utah Valley University’s Constitutional Studies Center to develop a video Curriculum on Federalism. These courses are now available on the UVU Center for constitutional Studies page for those state attorneys who are required under HB120 to take the course. It is also available to the general public for free. The course is taught by the top federalism scholars from across the nation, as well as across the political spectrum – because federalism, along with the separation of powers, is NOT political; it’s one of the two structural pillars in the Constitution that secures our liberty.

In this election year, most of the political energy is directed toward who should ride our rusty, imbalanced bicycle, or which road it should take, rather than repairing our governing bicycle designed to secure to us the right to pursue happiness. This year, more than ever, I need your help to keep working on repairing our divinely inspired, but rusty, system of government. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Share this email with your friends and neighbors;
  2. Put one of my campaign signs in your yard;
  3. Sign up at to volunteer in any small or great way you can; and
  4. Click here to Donate whatever you can to help get this important message out to the voters.


As always, if you have questions, comments or legislative concerns, please call me directly at 801.694.8380.


In Liberty,




Rep. Ken Ivory

Utah House of Representatives

District 47



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