I have an embarrassing confession to make. I am tired of public discourse about the Constitution. Coming from a Christian conservative, this may be considered a shocking statement. Because of that I want to clarify that I still consider the Constitution of the United States the greatest political document ever written by men. The problem with our contemporary discussions is that they ignore reality and treat the Constitution as if it is still an effective document that is used to govern the United States. It is time to have an honest discussion about the true state of this revered document.
The Constitution has been under attack since it was ratified. In the first years of the republic the Republicans asserted that the Federalists were trying to establish a monarchical government in spite of the Constitution. The 19th century arguments over slavery caused a constitutional crisis that nearly destroyed the union. It was this crisis that many assert was the catalyst for the progressive movement in America because states’ rights were subjugated to the higher priority of ending slavery. Eventually the 17th amendment was passed in 1913, which ended the election of senators by the state legislatures.
The passing of the 17th amendment could be the event that began the landslide that has resulted in the rights of men to be washed down the slippery slope. Democrats for years have been referencing the Constitution when it is politically expedient for them, only to ignore it when it should be put to practical use. The fact is, most liberals believe what Obama believes about the Constitution. They believe that it limits the ability of the government to be active as a social justice warrior. They insist it must be used as an agent to promote and implement their world view, which is, of course, diametrically opposed to the world view of the men who created the document.
This can be seen in the countless legislative acts that are in direct conflict with the 10th amendment – Obamacare, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc. It can also be seen in Democrat opposition of 2nd amendment rights and attempts to limit political speech with policies like the Fairness Doctrine.
Dissatisfaction of progressives with the Constitution can also be seen in the evolution of the judiciary over the last 80 years. The fact is that law students today are not taught the Constitution as the basis of American law, but are taught stare decisis, or legal precedent, instead. In other words, what some other lawyer or lawyers have ruled in a recent legal case is more important than what the Constitution states on the same topic. This explains how the unconstitutional legislation referenced above can pass the scrutiny of the courts. The progressives have been using this tactic since FDR’s administration and have accelerated the process in recent years.
They have also taken liberties with the verbiage in the Constitution to justify virtually unlimited expansion of government. For instance, the general welfare clause in Article 1 Section 8 has been used to uphold myriads of progressive legislation, when, in fact, James Madison himself made it clear in his writings that this is not what was intended.
The progressives would not have seen the success that they did if it had not been for an electorate that is illiterate when it comes to the Constitution.
Before Justice Gorsuch was nominated for the Supreme Court, many polls were taken to gauge the public feeling about the kind of person that should be nominated. For instance, a Marist poll published on Jan. 9, 2017 revealed that 80% of Americans want Supreme Court Justices to apply the Constitution as originally written.
However, when George W. Bush proposed partial privatization of Social Security in 2005, the electorate turned against him. Polling data from Gallup showed Americans disapproved of Bush’s handling of Social Security by a 64%-36% margin.
What most Americans obviously don’t understand is that the Social Security program violates the 10th Amendment of the Constitution, which states “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.” This is merely one example of the reality that Americans say they want the Constitution, but they have grown dependent on government programs and oppose their elimination.
What about those who are truly serious about going back to the Constitution? We hear from these folks every election cycle, usually represented by someone like Ron Paul. I appreciate the principles that these people stand for, but I must question the practicality of their idealistic positions. One of the first things we must do is forget about the Constitution as the basic document of our country. Though we should always support the principles put forth in it, our country has departed too far from it to return without an extreme political event. To begin to restore liberty and freedom in a practical way we must embrace many of the tactics and strategies of opponents to human liberty and adapt to an environment that is forever changed from the Constitutional Republic that was established in 1787. This means implementing tactics that themselves are not defensible via the Constitution, but are defensible when considering our obligation to defend the rights of men.
I must admit I have a hard time letting go of the Constitution. It has been an integral part of my intellectual life. I once had a crazy notion that our laws could be reviewed by an anointed group of originalist judges and the ones that do not adhere to the Constitution could be thrown out. Then I remember that the culture we live in has moved beyond our founding document and to move backwards toward a lost ideal is impossible.
Ben Franklin said, “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.” A people that can’t identify gender and can’t determine that life begins at conception is no longer a virtuous people. We must lovingly but aggressively work within culture and politics to reveal the truths that will allow America’s virtue to be restored. Only then can our Constitution, or another in the same spirit, be established once again.