Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Sacred Constitution

This must be the new agenda by the Left.  Confronted with more people reading and studying  the Constitution, Progs are finding they can't just make $#!7 up any more.  To paraphrase Patton from  the movie:  "Madison, you magnificent bastard!  I read your Constitution!"

Tea Party constitutionalism blends several American traditions. One is the tradition of hostility to the federal government chiefly associated with the South, which adopted states' rights ideology in order to resist federal interference first in Southern slavery and then in Southern racial segregation. Now that the Republican Party, founded as a northern party opposed to the extension of slavery, is disproportionately a party of white Southern reactionaries, dominated by the political heirs of the Confederates and the segregationist Dixiecrats, the denunciation of many exercises of federal authority as illegitimate would have been predictable, even if the president were not a black Yankee from Abraham Lincoln's Illinois.

This is patently false and beneath contempt.  It once again spreads the lie that TEA Party activists are racist and that this would never happen with a White president.  "Southern reactionaries"?  He must mean those great southerners like Paul Ryan, John Boehner, Jim Sensennbrenner, Mike Pence, Michelle Bachmann and others.  Those of us who currently inhabit the TEA party movement or are aligned with it were furious over  the spending of both parties and the last 7 administrations.  In 1994, we thought we had won and would move into the world of smaller government.  It didn't happen.  We voted them out.  In came the Progs and the debt increased three-fold.  We became even more angry and voted them out.  Those we just voted in should be aware that we have no patience for more of the same.

English-speaking democracies tend to be stable and free even when, like Britain, they lack a written constitution. But Latin American republics have been afflicted by dictatorship and civil war for generations in spite of having formal constitutions modeled on that of the United States. The contrast demonstrates that the true security for freedom is a culture of constitutionalism, not a particular constitution, or any written constitution at all. The details of a particular democratic political system -- presidential or parliamentary, bicameral or unicameral, unitary or federal -- are ultimately less important than the unwillingness of the citizens to resort to violence when they lose an election, unlike the Confederate ancestors of so many of today's white Southern Republicans, who tried to destroy the country upon losing an election.

To claim that countries without a constitution are more free than the United States is absurd.  Brits are saddled with high taxes, speech codes, laws that prevent the free expression of ideas, especially those which may be offensive to a favored (or feared) constituency.  It allows laws that may be anathema to the traditions and cultures of those who live there (Sharia).  And the author compares two different cultural systems, not two Constitutional systems.  Latin American countries are afflicted, not because of the Constitutionalism, but rather their cultural biases, many carried over from the Old World.  We have moved beyond those biases.  The Confederates did not resort to violence because they lost an election, but rather because they felt their liberties were being rescinded.  Whether they were correct or not in their beliefs is a long answered question, although, having lived in the South for 25 years, I understand the "War of Northern Aggression" mindset.  And it is certainly not (yet) the belief of the TEA Party activists.  If it was, we'd already be shooting.

But the joke is on Americans, not the French. Indeed, the 50 states are very "French" in their populist approach to constitutionalism. Most states in the Union have gone through several constitutions, with no apparent harm. Many of today's state constitutions in the Northeast and West Coast date back only a few generations to the Progressive era, and show the influence of belief in apolitical, technocratic executives in the number of state officials appointed by a strong governor. 

This is too easy.  The French are now in the midst of economic and social chaos, in part because they have no loyalty to a Constitution; that is, there are no rules.  The states of the West Coast and Northeast are in similar straits.  California is a basket case and other "progressive" states, such as my own here in Wisconsin are not far behind.

The essence of American republican liberalism is found in Jefferson's words in the Declaration of Indepedence: "That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and and to institute new government, laying its foundations on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness."

We already have the ability to alter our Constitution through the amendment process.  We also have the ability to abolish it, but I doubt that with those like the author, insisting we abolish it, that we would have the free society that we (even) now enjoy. 

Progressives like the author believe we should be more "egalitarian", that is we should all be more equal.  The only problem with egalitarianism is that it doesn't work.  It punishes those who achieve and rewards sloth.  It kills the human soul.  The author never explains why he thinks the Constitution should be changed, only that it should because everyone else does it.  In a world in the midst of social and economic chaos, that is the worst reason of all.

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