If you learn these principles, then apply them to current events, they will change the way you look at politics and help you see why our system is so broken.
Tag Archives: constitution
In today’s completely stunning decision, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate. Chief Justice Roberts joined the liberal justices, creating a 5-4 majority that declared the individual mandate a ‘tax’ and therefore constitutional.
Unbelievable though it may be, because of Chief Justice Roberts, the federal government can now essentially force you to do whatever it sees fit through the power of taxation. For example, let’s suppose the federal government institutes a law stating you must maintain a certain healthy weight and have to work out an hour every day to maintain that weight. Don’t want to? Fine, just pay a tax. According to the Supreme Court’s ruling, that’s completely constitutional.
This is so obviously not constitutional, you can almost hear James Madison and the rest of the Founders weeping. After all, wasn’t one of the primary reasons the Founders declared independence because of ‘taxation without representation’? The Stamp Act, the Sugar Act, the Tea Act which led to the Boston Tea Party- all of these were heavy taxes imposed on the colonists that vastly affected trade in the Colonies. The Founders maintained it was tyrannical for a distant government to impose such heavy, burdensome taxes on its people.
How is this any different? The Supreme Court has ruled that the individual mandate is Constitutional as a tax- a tax you have no say in. You must either have health care, or pay a tax. Your objection means nothing to the federal government. How is this not tyranny- the tyranny of a government over a voiceless people, of the same sort the Founders objected to?
It is not constitutional as a tax. The federal government’s taxing power is limited to three specific purposes- paying debts, national defense and guarding the nation’s Welfare (interests). An individual purchase ‘tax’ meets none of these requirements.
But you don’t even have to be familiar with the language of the taxing power to know that the Founders would be inherently opposed to this, and would never have given the federal government this type of absolute power over the people. In fact, they rebelled against it. History is repeating itself. The question is, what are We the People going to do about it? Lie down and let the government seize more power? Or let our voices be heard?
The Obama administration’s latest flouting of the Constitution came today when it was announced that they will stop deporting illegal immigrants. If the illegals came to the country under the age of 16, and have led law-abiding lives since their arrival, the Obama administration will bypass Congress and grant work permits to illegals under the age of 30, providing they have been in the country for at least 5 continuous years, graduated from high school, served in the military or have a GED. Illegal immigrants meeting these requirements can apply for a two-year work visa, which has no limits on the number of times it can be renewed. The Obama administration claims this will not be a path towards citizenship, but allow illegal immigrants to work legally, without the fear of deportation.
This policy basically institutes the highly contentious DREAM Act, which would create a path towards citizenship for illegal immigrants who attended college or served in the military. The DREAM Act has come before Congress on multiple occasions, but has failed to pass.
This policy is ridiculous for two reasons. One, it is unconstitutional. All legislative powers in this country are granted to Congress, not the president. This new immigration policy is an edict – the president telling the rest of the government what they shall and shall not do. It is disturbingly dictatorial.
Secondly, the very premise on which the law rests is paradoxical. The policy grants work visas to illegal immigrants who have led law-abiding lives since their arrival in the country. They are illegal immigrants; their presence in the country is in itself a crime. Furthermore, this policy, which basically grants amnesty to illegal immigrants, will be nothing but a magnet, drawing more illegals into the country. This not only undermines the economy and undermines our national defense, but seriously hurts legal immigrants who come to this country, work hard and obey the laws, in the hopes that they can gain citizenship.
This week several potentially dangerous news reports popped into my email. These stories have one thing in common: the loss of personal freedom. It may be a case where each issue, of itself, is small, but added together gives the appearance of a definite shift. Here are links to the articles:
High school seniors in Minnesota required to take breathalyzer test before attending graduation practice. Why? Not at the request of police, but because a parent reported smelling alcohol on students’ breath. All were tested. No parents were notified prior to the action. The school’s reasoning? They were concerned students might be driving following the practice. No one argues that underage drinking is bad but what is to stop schools from requiring breathalyzers or drug tests on all students, just because?
In Colorado police received a tip that a bank robber was at a particular intersection. They swooped in and halted all traffic, then proceeded to handcuff the adults in 19 cars at the intersection while they searched for the robber. Handcuffed just for being at an intersection? The police reaction? They caught the robber…therefore, the end justified the means.
We’ve heard about Mayor Bloomberg’s soft drink restriction plan (that goes along with the no salt rules and no smoking in public parks) in New York City. One has to wonder how far will the government go to protect us from ourselves? In the Huffington article they ask, “If government is within its right to restrict behavior to protect health, then why wouldn’t a mayor or other official ban risky sexual conduct or dangerous sports like skydiving? What’s to stop a mayor from requiring people to wear a certain type of sunscreen or limit the amount of time they can spend on the beach, to protect them from skin cancer?”
A physician in Arizona was thrown out of a Barnes & Noble bookstore. Their reason? He was a lone male shopping in the children’s section. A female patron reported him to the staff. It did not matter that he was shopping for his grandchildren. The store has since apologized but not before first standing by their decision of forcibly removing a completely innocent shopper from their premises.
Companies in the US and abroad are promoting implanting all babies with a microchip. Touted as an efficient way to manage people this Orwellian barcode would certainly allow Big Brother to watch and record your every move. Frightening? It should be.
Many in our government seem to believe we cannot take care of ourselves. They act as though ‘they’ know best and that a nanny state is the most responsible course of action. As we hear more stories of law enforcement agencies using drones and other “spy planes” to watch citizen actions we need to ask ourselves, “Are we losing our freedom?” Our Constitution guarantees us certain rights and at the same time limits the government. It’s time for citizens to stand up and speak out. If we don’t this police state mentality will continue to grow.
Some “Constitutionalists” say that “social issues” are not for election years – as if social issues were absent Constitutional basis.
Listening as a Democrat pundit said Thursday that sixty-something percent of Americans “support marriage” but saying so in a way that was intended to purport that the same majority supported gay marriage, the goal of redefining what marriage actually means felt eerily near to coming to fruition. The guest also mentioned that Obama’s recent evolution on gay marriage was a show of support for “marriage”. Whoever rejects Obama’s push to redefine marriage is now effectively against marriage according to the interviewee.
Semanticism is the tool of the left – redefining terms in a way that is socially, although illogically, acceptable in the hopes of diminishing an institution or idea that is an obstacle to realizing the unicorn-trodden, rainbow-emblazoned progressive stomping ground known as Utopia.
Marriage is the foundation of family. Family is what comes together in times of hardship to weather the storm. If the progressives can dismantle strong families they can create an entirely government dependent culture – one that could never, ever vote them out for the fear of having no one left to take care of them. As the Washington Post printed today.. why bother getting married at all? And if you do, getting divorced may not be as bad as you used to think.
Then there is the contracteption mandate in Obamacare. Obama’s regulatory agency has made an exception that defines who or what is or is not a religious institution when considering the requirement for employers to provide reproductive coverage (a.k.a. contraception) to employees. It dictates which institutions are or are not a church based on how they are ministered to. The definition is narrow, narrow-minded and built to destroy the current understanding of the wall between church and state. It is, as progressives are fond to admit, a nudge – a nudge intended to end another non-governmental safety-net: the church.
Those who would say that this election is not about these issues, but instead about the Constitution confuse me. Marriage is not a power enumerated in the Constitution and is therefor the States’ to handle – so says the tenth amendment. Why wouldn’t staunch Constitutionalists step-up to say that the federal government cannot decide who may or may not get married? The separation of church and state (1st amendment), although bastardized by the left, was intended to prevent exactly the kind of oppressive activity that the Obama administration is undertaking against the Catholic church. Those who purport a firm understanding of our founding document can’t be found to argue these important issues. They are after all “social issues” that they cannot be bothered with. What will happens when those disenfranchised by this nudge are not there to protect the strict Consitutionalists when a different amendment is under attack? Nothing, they’ll simply be the next domino to fall in the progression of liberal oppression.
If this nudge simply redefines what a church is or what is the definition of marriage, what will the next one bring?
These may seem like small things when viewed in a 30-second television sound bite, but they are nibbles – small bites out of the basis of American society intended to bring about a new one – without families, churches, opportunity or freedom.
The real test of a Constitutionalist is not what they do when their own rights are being threatened – but what they do when the rights of someone with whom they disagree are in peril. The redefinitions of marriage and church are exactly those tests by which Conservatives will be judged.
In America, it is nearly a ubiquitous truism that ours is a democratic nation. In popular imagination, all virtues spring forth from the fountainhead of democracy, and all vices consist of its aristocratic or reactionary opposition. Yet we were blessed with the founders’ vision to anticipate the instability and capriciousness of mob-majority rule, and our Constitution was imbued with individual rights, sanctioned by no less than the Almighty itself.
The terms democracy, freedom, and liberty are retained in our popular vernacular without meaningful engagement of the historical circumstances that gave rise to them in the culture. The intellectual doctrines of the progenitors of these terms, Locke, Paine, Madison, and Jefferson, among others, are obliterated in the people’s education, while their persons are held aloft as exemplary and heroic. Even as their names are occasionally invoked for the expediency of politicians, these great thinkers’ innovations and exhortations have tended to become progressively inaccessible to most citizens.
Over time, such conceptual errors as the conflation of majoritarian fiat and individual liberty, surely propagated by the enemies of freedom, prove fatal. We are at pains to point out that the American revolution, which was not simply a revolt against the tax-slavery of Britain, but rather an unprecedented revolution of philosophical bearings away from collectivist tyranny, turned out as it did almost precisely because it was not the French Revolution. In France, democratic fervor soaked the decrepit land in blood, providing fertile soil for the regrowth of an authoritarian form of governance. Sprung forth from the chaotic masses was the spirit of nationalism, which renounced the emancipatory powers of self-rule, and instead crowned an emperor.
Thus, in revolutionary France, unbridled passion led the unthinking mob to dethrone a monarchical despot, only to cede all power to a nationalistic dictator. At least the monarchy had the wisdom of studied self-preservation on its side; the new regime, self-confident and poised to sweep up the continent, embarked on a heady crusade to remake the ancien regimes of Europe in its own image.
The impending disaster of the Napoleonic Wars foreshadows the experience of twentieth century Germany, whose National Socialist movement was nearly as romantic and just as collectivist; but the latter departed from the French by implementing “scientific” methods of manipulating and controlling society. We are loathe to point out that the great dictator was democratically elected. The formula strikes the modern-day American as hauntingly familiar.
From the great upheavals of the modern era, we may trace a thin pencil line back to the Fourth Crusades, whose impulsive sacking of Constantinople removed a Christian bastion stemming the rising tide of the Musselman. Therefrom we may leap back to the doomed Sicilian expedition of the Athenians, a hasty gambit that was pitched to the war-weary citizens by demagogues in the language of greed and glory. The dispassionate historian Thucydides displays the Athenian ploy’s divergence from reality as a retreat into sheer hubris.
The common theme of these historical events is that there is no “wisdom of the people,” as a populist politician of late would have us believe. The desire to promote “the common good,” as the current opposition party has enshrined in its latest pledge to the American people, is as vacuous and venal as the politicians themselves choose it to be, and is merely an homage to the democratic status quo.
With each passing generation, we depart from the exceptionalism that is the hallmark of the American tradition, the individual and his capability of transforming the world through humility, hard work, and rational self-interest. America’s reverence for the individual is what made it a shining beacon to the world, driving millions to come to this nation’s shores. Today, the individual is culturally and politically absent, brushed away from the history books, and disappearing into competing democratic mobs.
The poor man retains the prejudices of his forefathers without their faith, and their ignorance without their virtues; he has adopted the doctrine of self-interest as the rule of his actions without understanding the science that puts it to use; and his selfishness is no less blind than was formerly his devotion to others.
Self-interest devoid of rationality is anathema to civil society; and it is no surprise that the deposed oligarchs of the ancien regime would eventually seek vengeance upon the wayward children of the European and American revolutions by retaining the politically useful aspects of their historical movements, while stripping them of their redeeming cores.
In Europe, the supposedly ineluctable drive for equality gave way to uncritical reception of the primitive ideology of socialism. The irony of socialism is that it does not lead to the promised utopia of perfect equality, but rather to a state of severe impoverishment of the preponderance of the people, led by the naturally self-interested oligarchs who impose a socially ossified system.
The genius of the American revolution is that its core tenet of liberty nurtures men who learn to rule themselves. A hardy, self-directed people, innocently propelled to meet their own needs, provides the general equality conducive to what Aristotle considered the best society, the one directed by a vibrant middle class.
America’s impending reversal from individual rights and resultant self-reliance to a political system of paternalism and patronage will foist conditions on the nation that will appear in many respects like pre-revolutionary France. The hard left has deliberately fostered revolutionary conditions in this nation and has sought to implement social upheaval that will engulf the American people and lead to the return of the state. The imagined revolution will feature the reaction of the increasingly mislabeled “conservatives,” who now find themselves in the awkward position of radicals, strangers in a strange land.
Should the dreaded hour arrive when we are forced to choose, when our nation reaches some unforeseen but steadily approaching breaking point, will we choose the “democratic” revolution of France or the individualist revolution of our forefathers? Our country’s clamoring for “democracy” will presage socialism, the chosen model of the beneficiaries of the welfare state, as well as the preferred ideology of elites who seek to return man to a neofeudal order animated by the secularized religion of altruism. If we persist in our ignorance of the perils of democracy, we will undoubtedly choose in error, and become prey to the hubris that precedes all calamitous falls.
If we keep giving the government more and more power to protect us from eeevvvviiilll corporations, who then will protect us from the government?
As we’re on the last day of arguments before the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of Obamacare, there are pundits from all sides offering their thoughts on every look, twitch, word, and tone coming from the Justices during the sessions. The vast majority are focused on the elasticity of the Commerce Clause and today in particular, on the lack of a Severability Clause in the current law. While the former is a favorite among left-wing legal analysts and Constitutionalists alike, the latter is the most-likely candidate to become the linchpin that either holds the law in place, or ends its existence.
But neither of these even mentions one thing that theoretically should have been the center of the debate from the beginning. Obamacare overextends into the realm of State powers. Over-stretching the Commerce Clause to make it fit was wishful thinking, and hopefully the Justices will point that out. The only Constitutional way the Federal Government really had to enact this reform was through its power of taxation, not the regulation of commerce. For a relatively plain language explanation of this, one needs to look no further than The Federalist Papers, No. 45 to be exact.
The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.
It is not the Constitution. It is arguably, the definitive lobbyist’s playbook on the side of the States adopting the Constitution. Any time anyone suggests that SCOTUS needs to stop legislating from the bench, and stay true to the intentions of the Founders, this collection of documents should be included in the statement.
And in this case, Obamacare is a case of the Federal government overstepping into the realm of State jurisdiction. This is also why comparing this law to the one adopted in Massachusetts is a fallacy. The government of Massachusetts had the right to create that program for the benefit of their residents, as does every other State in the Union if it so chooses. You want healthcare reform, stop crying to Washington for it. It is a State issue, not Federal. Unless, of course, you are willing to take a massive Federal tax hike to pay for it. And yes, this is a little note to the Romney campaign – please feel free to point out what I’ve said here. Romneycare does not equal Obamacare, period.
Since the Supreme Court is in the middle of hearing a case that will decide if our republic is going to continue or will degenerate into a tyranny of unlimited government power, this seems like a good time to go back and look at some of Thomas Jefferson’s thoughts on how we should interpret the Constitution.
In a letter to Supreme Court Justice William Johnson on June 12, 1823, Jefferson gave him this advice:
“On every question of construction, we should carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed.”
This seems like a pretty solid, common sense approach to interpreting the Constitution, but we can be fairly certain that it’s not what we’ll see from the Supreme Court’s decision on Obamacare. When it comes out later this year, read through it and count how many times the justices discuss the writings of the Founders – or even mention them.
This concept couldn’t be more important because this case would be a slam dunk if it were decided based on the Founders‘ intent. It’s simply unreasonable to assume that our Constitution could possibly have been ratified had the people at the time believed that it gave the federal government the power to force them to buy a product.
But there is a significant chance that Obamacare will be upheld because the decision is almost guaranteed to be filled with references to the decisions of other courts and obscure legal concepts that are only loosely related to the Constitution itself. Which brings us to another piece of advice that Thomas Jefferson had for Justice Williams that day:
“Laws are made for men of ordinary understanding, and should therefore be construed by the ordinary rules of common sense. Their meaning is not to be sought for in metaphysical subleties which make anything mean everything or nothing, at pleasure.”
But this is exactly what we are doing by interpreting the Constitution based on previous court decisions and how individual words can be twisted instead of relying on original intent. After years of this approach, the Constitution now means everything and nothing all at the same time. If Obamacare is upheld, it will mean that a document that was written to put strict limits on the government is now being used to justify giving that same government unlimited power. Yay freedom!
Below is the video of my interview with Dick Morris at an event in Chicago for Bill Kelly. (I had really hoped to have this posted sooner, but sometimes technology is a bit… er… pain.) Anyhow, throughout the event Mr. Morris was very down-to-earth and extremely accessible – he moved throughout the room with no pretense, talking extensively with anyone who came up to him. My guess is, if someone were to walk into that room without knowing who the “big name” was supposed to be, they wouldn’t have been able to figure it out.
In this interview, I talked with Mr. Morris about the Constitution (naturally). He gave me his recommendations for Constitutional amendments, his concerns about some international treaties that Congress will be considering this summer, and his thoughts on how the Constitution will affect the 2012 elections.
Whether you agree with Dick Morris or not he brings up a lot of thought provoking points, so this video is definitely worth a look. Also, don’t forget to check out his new book – Screwed – which is coming out next month.
Last week, Misfit Politics posted a video tribute to honor the passing of Andrew Breitbart. In it, Brandon Morse said that, for the first time ever conservatism is going on the offense… and he couldn’t be more right. Over the last few years we’ve learned a few things and gotten organized. All you have to do now is talk to a few conservatives or libertarians and you can feel the energy coming from them.
The problem is, as conservatives we are often put in the position of defending the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the ideas of our Founding Fathers. Any time you are defending your position you aren’t gaining ground.
If you want to learn how to take conservative ideas on offense, let Calvin Coolidge give you an example of how to destroy progressive ideas:
“About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction cannot lay any claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.”
Calvin Coolidge – July 5, 1926
There you go – the next time some fool starts attacking our principles or the Founders it’s time to go to on offense. Ask this person, “Ok, what exactly about our principles is outdated – are all men not created equal?” This person will try to redirect the conversation from this question because – more than likely – he was initially just repeating something some campaign talking point or something his college professor told him. But don’t let him off the hook – remember, you’re on offense here. Demand an answer to that question. Then move on to the others. Do we not all have equal rights? Are the people not the source of political power?
Coolidge nailed it in this quote – there is no moving beyond these three principles that make up the foundation of our country. Everything that progressives want to do moves us away from one of these principles in some way. We must force them to defend this ground if we want to move the debate in a positive direction.
Here’s one example of how it works: progressives want to take property away from some people in order to give it to others who progressives feel are more deserving. As President Obama would say, “At a certain point, you’ve made enough money.” This is where you go on offense. Ok, at exactly what point in the income scale do you forfeit your property rights? So we don’t have equal rights to keep property we’ve earned? Who will be taking these rights away? I thought our rights came from God. And on and on.
This is ground that the progressives simply cannot defend. Remember – as long as they are on defense they cannot gain ground.
If you are a person who loves freedom, it’s time to get to work.. and it’s time to go on offense. Liberty is not for those who are willing to sit back and allow others to make decisions for them. Liberty is earned by people who are willing to be eternally vigilant in its defense.
On that same day in 1926, Calvin Coolidge described the type of people we need to be if we want to preserve our freedom:
“The American Revolution represented the informed and mature convictions of a great mass of independent, liberty-loving, God-fearing people who knew their rights, and possessed the courage to dare to maintain them.”
For decades now many conservatives – myself included – have had the option of paying lip service to how much they love their rights and their liberty without consequence. Those days are over. Our rights and our liberty are currently under a direct assault. The time has come to make a decision – do you have the courage to maintain them?