Considering that Saturday marks “Constitution Day,” it would seem an appropriate time to ask whether the Constitution effectively is dead as a legal constraint on government, as some have claimed.
Or, as the character Miracle Max in the fantasy movie The Princess Bride might say, is it only mostly dead? If the Constitution is only ‘mostly’ dead, can it be revived? And, if the Constitution can be revived, why should its revival as a legal constraint on government be the top priority of the conservative movement?
The effort to revive the Constitution as the law that governs government is afoot, and it may be the last chance to save America for what it was meant to be. America’s exceptionalism is not created by vast natural resources, wealth, military might, or technology. It isn’t anything in our DNA, either. Our Constitution is what enables our exceptionalism by securing our liberties. Without the Constitution as the law that governs government, America is a failed experiment, and in turn, a weaker country.
The constitutional conservative movement consisting mostly of middle-class Americans, but honest-broker intellectuals and patriotic freedom-lovers across the economic spectrum as well, isn’t merely seeking to revive the Constitution. Americans of conservative principles are reclaiming the Constitution. We reclaim not what was merely lost, but what was taken from us -- stolen, if you will -- by others.
The term the Founders used in the Declaration of Independence and the Federalist Papers was “usurped.”
The Constitution has been usurped, not at the point of a gun, but by the very people elected and entrusted to enforce it. We turned our government over to a series of Bernie Madoffs. Like trustees cleaning out the funds in a trust, they misused their power to loot the Treasury on a vast scale. They created a massive Ponzi scheme unmatched in history -- which is much of the government and its programs -- and reduced our freedoms in the process.
“They” are the political establishment comprised of progressives and statists. Statists are those who believe in the collective benefits of the power of government regardless of their ideology. There are, for example, Republican statists who use government solutions for private matters. At the risk of offending President George W. Bush supporters, we would consider him a statist Republican although he sometimes espoused conservative views.
Progressives are ideologically to the left. The term comprises those who are referred to as “liberals,” “socialists,” “Marxists,” and their ideological allies. Progressives are statists, but not all statists are progressives. Progressives and statists comprising the political class are often interchangeable and indistinguishable from each other in how they have eroded the Constitution as law. “They” think they are not bound by the Constitution.
“They” have replaced freedom of the individual by creating a class system of power, privilege, prestige and entitlements dictated by government authority. Those who aren’t on the in with this system have caught on to the fact that the political establishment relies on violating our paramount law to create this class system of who is in and who is out.
Those in the political establishment who dictate this system have every human foible that the Constitution was written to address and constrain. By replacing the law of freedom under the Constitution with a form of authoritarian, statist power, the political establishment and their cronies sit at the table of privilege. Sycophants feed off the scraps. The rest of us are restrained from achieving what freedom would otherwise allow.
As more Americans come to recognize that their freedoms protected by the Constitution have been usurped, and that the political establishment is driving America toward shameful economic conditions, the constitutional conservative movement grows.
The rise of constitutional conservatism and its focus on America’s founding principles has forced statists to engage in this fight over the role and meaning of the Constitution. Progressive statists don’t quite grasp exactly what this movement is, but they know it can’t be good for their agendas.
Time magazine’s Richard Stengel, The Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne, and The New Republic’s Ed Kilgore are just a few of the progressive bellwethers who have recently written defensive-aggressive articles about the constitutional conservative movement. Globalist Brit Gideon Rachman of The Financial Times petulantly describes the movement as “a dangerously simple-minded approach to government.” Progressives are flustered by the exposure of the historical and inevitable flaws of centralized government power, and an emphasis on our founding principles.
The Founders, motherhood, apple pie? Surely, conservatives have the upper hand in this debate. Progressives, it seems, have failed to follow Sun Tzu’s advice about engaging the enemy on your own turf. Or have they?
The strength of statists, and especially progressives, is politics, and politics is above all else about the law. Progressives have used the law as their most devastating political weapon. They are civil-warriors with it, and theirs is a war of legal attrition, conquering their political opponents by amassing more and more laws regulating and suppressing freedoms.
On the other hand, the average conservative-by-nature American has a bit of an aversion to politics, never mind using the law as a weapon of politics. We’d prefer going about our family life, our work, our “pursuit of happiness” in our individual ways, through our places of worship, or through other private associations.
The times, though, they are a-changing. In the face of ever-creeping “socialism” or “statism” -- call it what you will -- more and more Americans have begun to understand that if our country is to be truly a nation of laws, we must reclaim the Constitution as the law that governs government.
And, at no time since the American Revolution has there been a greater need for government to be governed. The anger at, and distrust of, the political class is setting records, and for good reason. Speaking on Fox News after Standard & Poor’s recent downgrade of America’s credit rating, Democratic pollster Pat Caddell called our situation a “much graver constitutional crisis” to the point that it is “pre-Revolutionary.”
Our federal government debt is over $14 trillion and growing -- and that doesn’t even count the debt of states, counties and cities, many of which are on the verge of bankruptcy.
There is no credible plan to make us solvent. Indeed, it became accepted political establishment thinking that we had to raise our debt limit instead of reducing the debt through spending cuts, passing on even more debt to future generations. That’s worse than objectively irrational: It would be a criminal Ponzi scheme if it were to occur in the private sector.
Sure, if government were to default or taxes were to increase, life goes on. But legal theft and corruption through generations of statism has culminated and saddled our posterity with the bill. It has also weakened and embarrassed America now.
While perhaps not always able to put their fingers on it with precision, people are coming to understand more and more that there is an inextricable link between violations of the Constitution and the immoral, unconscionable inter-generational transfer of debt. Constitutional conservatives are challenging the lies and corruption used to create and bolster the largest debt in the history of mankind. They are seeking out the root causes instead of just applying band-aides.
But it isn’t just the unsustainable government debt that has spawned this constitutional conservative movement.
It is that we’re tired of being lied to by elected officials, not to mention these other grievances:
•tArrogant bureaucrats down to our state, county and city levels who act as though they’re doing us favors just by doing their jobs.
•tOur loss of self-determination, where at nearly every turn we need some permission from a government official, or we must fill out some form required by law.
•tThe sense that government has taken too much control over private decision-making, yet is incompetent and corrupt.
•tThe inexplicable situation of expanding property-tax bills at a time of declining home values, combined with the fact that nearly half of Americans now pay no income taxes at all.
•tHigh unemployment caused by government policies from people who do not know how to create jobs; besides, job creation should not be government’s role.
•tHigh gas prices caused by government’s over-regulating and banning domestic oil drilling and other free market energy alternatives, while subsidizing inefficient energy sources.
•tLow confidence that our retirement money will be there because Social Security has become a Ponzi scheme where we’re left with nothing but IOUs, and there are rumors that government will invade private retirement funds.
•tAmericans have become bookkeepers and tax collectors for the government, where we must keep every receipt, and record every jot and tittle or be subject to penalties of fines or even prison.
•tGovernment rewards, and gives special preference to, its supporters, and disfavors or even punishes its critics.
•tLeaders of both major political parties are out of touch with average, hard-working Americans.
Americans increasingly are alerted by a uniquely American gut-instinct against misused authority that we’ve lost something -- our strength as one nation under God, and the exceptionalism that comes from being a free people.
This piece is excerpted from the electronic pamphlet, The Law that Governs Government: Reclaiming The Constitution from Usurpers and Society’s Biggest Law Breakers.
The full pamphlet is available at www.reclaimtheconstitution.com
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