First Principles – Getting a Basic Framework for U.S. Civics – [quick study]From http://www.uscivicstraining.org/free-training/
Understanding How the Declaration & Constitution Work Together – 5min
Understanding the Declaration of Independence – 9 Key Concepts -9min
Understanding the U.S. Constitution – 5 Key Concepts – part 1– 8min
Understanding the U.S. Constitution – 5 Key Concepts – part 2 -7min
The Essence of the
Declaration of Independence
July 4, 2014, the Yuma Sun Editorial Page
By Howard Blitz
July 4, 2014, is the 238th anniversary of the signing of one of the greatest written documents in history, the Declaration of Independence. This is the reason for celebrating this day every year.
The significance of the Declaration of Independence cannot be overemphasized because it proclaims that individuals do not need permission from their government to do anything they so choose. The unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the PURSUIT of happiness come from Nature, a Creator, and the only reason for the existence of any government, including the American government, is to protect and secure those individual rights for every individual.
The individuals who wrote this document understood that the greatest threat to human existence is any form of government, and that government, not people, must be restrained. George Washington summed it up perfectly when he stated, “Government is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” Like fire, government must be contained or else it will destroy the unalienable rights of the people it was created to protect. Cooking burgers in the middle of one’s living room has disastrous results. Hence, fire must be contained.<
Governments today, including the American government, prove this point. The American government’s war on immigration, war on poverty, and war on drugs are obliterating the unalienable rights listed in the Declaration of Independence. These wars are also destroying the Bill of Rights. These wars sound good because most people want to travel without being inhibited, most people do not want to live in poverty, and most people do not want to be dependent on drugs to exist. However, good intentions are not enough. These government wars, contrary to the Declaration of Independence, are destroying more people than the object of these wars.
Government knows only one way to deal with anything and that is through the use of force. If government wants to restrict the travel of individuals, it must use force to detain them either arresting them or killing them. If government wants to eliminate poverty, it must use force to take from some to give to others impoverishing more people in the process. To make sure people stop taking drugs government must use force, again arresting people or killing them in the process.
Among the complaints listed in the Declaration of Independence by our ancestors to their English government were, “He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the Laws of Naturalization of Foreigners” and “He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.” Our American government today does the same through the Department of Homeland Security and the IRS. After several appeals to King George, the people we call the founders of the American republic had no other choice but to state their intention of breaking with their government and to institute a new government that would protect the individual rights of life, liberty, and the PURSUIT of happiness. They became traitors to their own government.
In doing so, though, these founders gave us, their posterity, a gift. They gave us the means by which we can change and institute new government without having to go to war and without burning down the capitol. Every two years we can change our government. All 435 members of the House of Representatives and 33 members of the Senate can be changed out through a very peaceful means called an election. However, for any election to be meaningful, we the people must understand the Declaration of Independence. We must understand the United States Constitution, the document that puts the restraints on government.
The future of this republic, this unique experiment called individual liberty, is in the hands of us all. If we do not get a hold of a basic understanding of the function of government, then tyranny will be our fate. If we do in fact obtain the understanding that government cannot provide anything for us, that force, used domestically or internationally, is not allowed by our government unless it is used in defense of our unalienable rights, only then can the real American experiment, as initially intended, be an example for the world to follow.
This is the essence of the Declaration of Independence.
Howard J. Blitz is founder/director of The Freedom Library, Inc.
What is America? Republic or Democracy?
Why Liberty Dies
By Dr. Robert R. Owens – Canada Free Press
In our nation we have built a rather impressive framework to restrain the government: our Constitution.
To understand why liberty is imperiled in our country today we must first state clearly and unequivocally what is liberty. Then and only then can we understand what is necessary for its preservation as well as see what is undermining it today. Liberty is the absence of coercion and the freedom to act upon your own will within the perimeters of not infringing the freedom of action of others. The only way that has been found among the societies of man to ensure, promote and protect liberty is through the rule of law.
The rule of law means that government is not allowed to coerce an individual except through the enforcement of a previously known and explicitly stated principle of limited government. This principle places a limit upon the power of government to legislate by calling into question what sorts of laws are legitimate and which is not. This looks beyond individual statutes to the very nature of legislation itself. This differs markedly with the modern notion of the rule of law that holds as long as all the actions of a government comply with the law it is meeting the standard. It is well to remember that under this definition both the Nazis and the Soviets operated under the rule of law.
This modern definition is actually an oxymoron. If a government passes a law which says that it can do whatever it wants than everything it does is legal. Hitler passed the Enabling Act and accomplished this in one fell swoop.
Because the rule of law is an absolute limitation on all legislation it cannot be a law of the same order as that passed by a legislature. No Legislator can effectively limit himself through legislation since he can always amend that legislation at a later date. Constitutions can make the infringement of pre-decided basic principles more difficult; however, as we have seen in our own Progressive land of the Living Document limitations can be re-defined away through courts and tradition.
The rule of law can only prevail where its basic principles are an organic part of the culture of the people. They must be part of the commonly held beliefs and standards of a majority of the people or they will be jettisoned as soon as they restrain that majority from following the path of least resistance and living as they believe they should. For if the rule of law is the common belief it will be followed closely and guarded jealously. If it is seen as impractical or as an impediment to life as the majority wish to live it, it will be soon rejected and replaced. Such a society will gladly embrace tyranny and arbitrary rule as long as they are convinced that they can now live as they want to live.
In our nation we have built a rather impressive framework to restrain the government: our Constitution. Though it has been interpreted into meaninglessness in many ways it is still given lip service and is still the penultimate law of the land. However, there is one glaring hole that is currently being exploited to make an end-run around its remaining provisions: the rise of the Federal Bureaucracy.
We have gone to great lengths to limit what powers the elected officials of our government possess and left open the door for appointed officials to run rough shod over our lives. The legislature passes vague thousand page laws and then the bureaucrats interpret them any way they desire with little or no oversight. Elected officials, even the perpetually re-elected gerrymandered creatures of today come and go. The bureaucracy lives forever. When the elected officials cannot find the power to impose the Progressive agenda they do it through the bureaucrats they have appointed.
When they couldn’t pass Cap-N-Trade, they imposed it through the EPA. When they can’t pass gun restrictions they have their bureaucrats buy up all the ammunition and make it almost impossible for the people to obtain any. When they can’t pass amnesty they impose it through regulations and edicts. The control of private land is taken through wet lands regulations. Between the out of control legislators-for-life and their appointed regulators we are told to do everything from what kind of light bulbs to buy to how many gallons we can use to flush a toilet.
Liberty is being eaten away inch by inch and day by day, legislated, and regulated into oblivion. When our government can’t pass laws or impose regulations they will utilize the IRS, the NSA or anyone of a hundred of their alphabet agencies to spy on us or intimidate us into silence. Common Core is coming for the kids. Amnesty is coming for the jobs. Political Correctness is coming for free speech.
Unless patriots stand-up the country will fall. It will still be called the United States of America. People will still say the pledge of Allegiance. They will still sing the national anthem and salute the flag but will it be the same country that our forefathers fought and died for? Will it still be the land of the free and the home of the brave? Or will it be something else: a place where the rule of law once protected its citizens from the rule of men until the laws of men overwhelmed the laws of nature and of nature’s God?
Jean-Jacques Rousseau one those who inspired the Framers of the Constitution reminded us, “Free people, remember this maxim: we may acquire liberty, but it is never recovered if it is once lost.”
Barry Goldwater said, “Equality, rightly understood as our founding fathers understood it, leads to liberty and to the emancipation of creative differences; wrongly understood, as it has been so tragically in our time, it leads first to conformity and then to despotism.”
The enemies of freedom also speak of liberty. Vladimir Lenin said, “It is true that liberty is precious; so precious that it must be carefully rationed.”
Benito Mussolini said, “The truth is that men are tired of liberty.
The controllers of men may try to use the language of liberty to subvert liberty however, the God given spirit of man shall always strive to become what God meant for us to be, free people in a free world.”
Norman Vincent Peale said, “Once we roared like lions for liberty; now we bleat like sheep for security! The solution for America’s problem is not in terms of big government, but it is in big men over whom nobody stands in control but God.”
Winston Churchill told us, “If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory is sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.”
And every school child should know that Patrick Henry famously said, “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!” Why does liberty die? Because the people allow it.
WHY AND HOW TO AMEND THE CONSTITUTION
Why should we change the constitution?
The states are losing their rights and power to the federal government.
So far, the Federal Government is the only one making amendments to the constitution..
In 1913, the 17th amendment changed the Senate from being appointed by the State Legislature and instead given to the people to vote them in.
This changed the Senate from being controlled (mostly) by the state legislature to almost no control.
They don’t seem to listen to the people.
In 1936, the Supreme Court said what would happen if we allow massive federal spending and control:
If the spending power is to be limited only by Congress’ notion of the general welfare, the reality, given the vast financial resources of the Federal Government, is that the Spending Clause gives ‘power to the Congress to tear down the barriers, to invade the states’ jurisdiction, and to become a parliament of the whole people, subject to no restrictions save such as are self-imposed.
United States v. Butler, 297 U.S. 1, 78 (1936).
The feds are enticing the states with bribes for Common Core, Obama Care and several other things.
The feds are subverting the constitution by executive orders, lack of congress to defeat any of them and the supreme court telling us we have to buy what the congress says..
Read the constitution (especially article 5) and see what it allows the state governments to do.
Then see what power the states have to repeal congressional laws.
Amendments 1-10 constitute what is known as the Bill of Rights.
Discover the other 17 changes and additions that have been made to the Constitution over the past 200+ years.
How We Can Change The Constitution
According to article V (5) of the constitution, the States have the power to make amendments to the constitution.
Mark Levin (check here) wrote a powerful book called “The Liberty Amendments”
Washington, D.C., will never voluntarily relinquish meaningful power, it is far to large and can only be reigned in by the States.
Electing new people to the feds has not been productive in reducing the size of the government. As of today, it (the Federal Government) is using 40% of the Gross National Product and growing. It is almost total control of our lives and our future. The national database on every individual is getting more massive every day. Soon it will know everything about everyone from birth to death.
Here is a great couple of sentences that Mark Levin wrote:
“What was to be a relatively innocuous federal government, operating from a defined enumeration of specific grants of power, has become an ever-present and unaccountable force. It is the nation’s largest creditor, debtor, lender, employer, consumer, contractor, grantor, property owner, tenant, insurer, health-care provider and pension guarantor.”
Here are three amendments Levin would recommend for the states to add.
“Liberty amendments” to the Constitution, beginning with limiting the terms of congressmen and Supreme Court justices. “The point is,” argues Levin, “that the Framers clearly intended to create intrinsic limitations on the ability of any one branch or level of government to have unanswered authority over the other.”
Another amendment would establish spending limits for the government.
Mark Levin. He said that2/3 (at least 34) of the 50 states with 3,000 State Legislative Districts.
can create a states constitutional convention to add amendments to the United States Constitution.
Then, it would take 3/4 ( 38 states ) to ratify an Amendment.>
I would propose getting the Tea Party and other active groups going on this….Soonest!
Please listen to Mark Levin on Hannity” Special: Mark Levin On “The Liberty Amendments
Houston’s Mayor is Villian not Hero
Jeff Crouere | Oct 19, 2014
This week the country learned that in the politically red state of Texas is the liberal, blue city of Houston, which is led by Mayor Annise Parker, an avowed lesbian.
In May, Mayor Parker rammed through the city council a controversial transgender rights measure called the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), otherwise known as the “bathroom bill.” It would allow men who self identify as females to use the women’s bathroom and vice versa. Obviously, the ordinance was controversial and five local pastors mounted a successful campaign to gather 50,000 signatures to oppose the measure. This was more than three times the number of signatures necessary to force a voter referendum on the ordinance.
Despite the overwhelming number of signatures gathered, the Houston city attorney dismissed the petitions claiming that there were “irregularities.” Thereafter, a lawsuit was filed by four citizens outraged at such disregard for public sentiment. A court date has been set for January 19, 2015 to decide this matter.
In the name of fighting discrimination, Houston is engaged in discrimination against heterosexual citizens who are not confused about their gender. Of special concern should be the women ofHouston who should not have to encounter individuals, regardless of their sexual confusion, with male “equipment” in their bathrooms.
In the meantime, an upset Mayor Parker decided to make these pastors pay for their obstinacy. Her attorneys sent them a subpoena demanding that they turn over any sermons or communications that discussed the Mayor, homosexuality, gender identity or related issues.
Such a legal demand is mind boggling, as it clearly disregards the 1st Amendment rights of free speech and places the pulpit in political crosshairs. Politicians have no business intimidating pastors who preach the Word of God. The pastoral message is for the church congregants, not the Mayor of Houston.
After intense nationwide criticism this week, the Mayor reduced the scope of the subpoenas to just communications related to the “bathroom bill.” Yet, no subpoena should be recognized as the Mayor has no legal authority to mount such a campaign.
Joe La Rue of the Alliance Defending Freedom called the Mayor’s move to limit the subpoena “wholly inadequate.” He noted that the Mayor is still demanding pastoral documents and sermons. La Rue’s group filed a lawsuit in to invalidate the subpoenas since they constitute political “harassment.”
This outrageous episode exposes how liberals love to use the “separation of church and state” excuse to remove religion from public schools, but ignore the “wall” when they are on a political witch hunt designed to silence religious leaders.
Liberals like Mayor Parker also have a disdain for free speech. Contrary views opposed to issues such as transgender rights are not allowed in this liberal mindset, they should be outlawed. This viewpoint is appropriate for communist Cuba or the old Soviet Union, but not in the United States of America, the “Land of the Free.”
Sadly, political correctness is sweeping the nation from the removal of the name “Redskins” from our vocabulary to the desire to institute transgender rights, no matter how many pastors oppose it.
The passage of HERO and the misguided subpoenas indicate the Mayor of Houston has no regard for religious liberty. According to U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) the Mayor has “no business asking pastors to turn over their sermons.” He called the subpoenas “un-American” and a “grotesque abuse of power,”
One of the targeted pastors, Hernan Castano, complained that “This is not what America, the nation, is about.” He said the subpoenas amounted to intimidation and that the city has “gone too far.”
Pastor Castano speaks for millions of Americans, who are sick and tired of political correctness run amok.
Mark Levin Wants To Play Russian Roulette With The Constitution
The Constitution Electoral College bypass called NPV
NPV is National Popular Voter plan.
The National Popular Vote plan is to elect the President of the United States by the most popular vote. As or 2010, all state legislators in 50 states have introduced the NPV.
It would require all electors of the Electoral College to vote for the person who received the most popular vote in the United States. Thereby bypassing the Constitution Article 2, Section 1, and in the 12th Amendment.
It would mean that all presidential elections would be won by the largest populated cities. The small states wouldn’t stand a chance of electing a president.
The politicians would NOT have to campaign in the smaller populated states.
As of today, 11 states have passed the NPV law.
The Tea Party, Conservatism, and the Constitution
Reprinted by permission from Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College.
Charles R. Kesler
Editor, Claremont Review of Books
CHARLES R. KESLER is the Dengler-Dykema Distinguished Professor of Government at Claremont McKenna College and editor of the Claremont Review of Books. He received his A.B., his A.M., and his Ph.D. in government from Harvard University. He is editor of the Signet Classic edition of The Federalist Papers; editor of and a contributor to Saving the Revolution: The Federalist Papers and the American Founding; co-editor, with William F. Buckley, Jr., of Keeping the Tablets: Modern American Conservative Thought; and author of I Am the Change: Barack Obama and the Future of Liberalism.
The following is adapted from a speech delivered on October 21, 2013, at Hillsdale College’s Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the AWC Family Foundation Lecture Series.
The Tea Party movement is named, of course, for the famous event in late 1773 when cases of tea were dumped unceremoniously into the Boston harbor. The Boston Tea Party—a carefully orchestrated strike against a commodity that was being taxed and sold by a monopoly provider—was intended as a one-time thing, though it ended up being an important link in the chain of events that led to the American Revolution. Today’s Tea Party, on the other hand, has ambitions to become an ongoing force—maybe even the major force—in American conservatism. And it strives for a revolution of its own, a return to a more limited, more constitutional form of government. If I had to judge its performance so far, I would say that it has been courageous and right in its diagnosis of the problems facing American politics, but somewhat off in its prescriptions.
When I say the Tea Party is correct in its diagnosis, I mean it is correct in its very clear sense that Obamacare is not just another costly, bureaucratic, top-down, regulatory scheme, of which we have, alas, so many. There is something genuinely tyrannical (despite the good intentions of many of its supporters) about Obamacare. It threatens not only to ruin our medical care system, but indirectly and directly—and sooner as well as later—to subvert our form of government and our way of life, fundamentally changing the relation between citizens and government.
Hubris and Nemesis
In a way, you can see how dangerous Obamacare is by noticing how it has brought out the worst in liberals—which is evident in how they have responded to the Tea Party. Liberal impatience with partisanship—that is, with people who oppose their plans—arises from the fact that in contemporary liberalism, there is no publicly acknowledged right of revolution. That may seem like a strange thing to say, but if one looks at some of the political theorists who were most important to modern or statist liberalism—Kant and Hegel in Germany, say, or Woodrow Wilson here in the United States—they are usually quite explicit in rejecting a right of revolution. In their view, a people always has in the long run the government it deserves. So there’s no right of the people to “abolish,” as the Declaration of Independence proclaims, the prevailing form of government and substitute a better one. In particular, there is no conceivable right to overturn contemporary liberalism itself; as liberals today are so fond of saying, there is no turning back the clock. To liberals the Tea Party appears, well, bonkers, precisely because it recalls the American Revolution, and in doing so implies that it might not be such a bad thing to have another revolution—or at least a second installment of the original—in order to roll back the bad government that is damaging both the safety and happiness of the American people.
This is the position, for instance, of Sam Tanenhaus, former editor of the New York Times Book Review and author of The Death of Conservatism. For Tanenhaus, conservatism is good insofar as it consolidates and preserves the liberal order. If conservatism turns revolutionary, i.e., attempts to roll back the liberal order, then it exceeds its commission—it goes off the reservation, so to speak—because liberalism stands for progress and progress is final. President Obama himself made this point a few years ago regarding national health care: “I am not the first president to take up this cause,” he said, “but I am determined to be the last.” But in fact, Obamacare’s strained and narrow victory in 2010 looked not so much inevitable as desperate. It passed by a party line vote, with rampant side deals to buy out the relevant interest groups, and against bitter resistance that has not gone away. Then came its disastrous rollout and its failure to meet any of its own targets for success. All of which suggests overextension and hubris on the part of liberalism, and in the wake of this hubris the Tea Party has confirmed itself as Obama’s, and Obamacare’s, devoted nemesis.
What the Tea Party needs now is a strategy—something it has so far conspicuously lacked—to allow it to achieve its worthy ends. Thinking through a strategy will help clarify those ends: What is it, exactly, that the Tea Party means by limited government? Limited to what? And limited by what? Clearly the Tea Party’s form of conservatism points back to the Constitution as the basis for restoring American government. But how practically to move in that direction?
The Tea Party rightly concluded from the battles over Obamacare that what we are seeing in our politics these days is not two clashing interpretations of the same Constitution, but increasingly two different Constitutions in conflict: the old Constitution of 1787 and a “living” Constitution that is not just a different approach to the original, but an alternative to it. The extraordinary fight the Tea Party was willing to put up arose from this fact—that Obamacare amounted to a colossal battle between two different ways of government. And it was the Tea Party and President Obama who shared a clear understanding of the stakes; mainstream Republican leaders understood them with much less clarity and intensity.
Matching Means to Ends
The failure of the Supreme Court to strike down Obamacare and the individual mandate played into the Tea Party’s suspicions. The Court, after all, had come close to striking down the act. There were five votes to rule it unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause before Chief Justice Roberts changed the subject to the taxing power. When the Court punted on the main question and allowed Obamacare to become law, it suggested to Tea Party leaders in and out of government that the old constitutional mechanisms of judicial review and separation of powers did not seem capable of defending the Constitution against this fundamental challenge, and that the only recourse would be a direct appeal to the American people—to the ultimate source of authority for any constitution. To them, John Roberts’s about-face revealed the failure, maybe even the treachery, of the governing establishment—including the establishment Republicans who had nominated and backed Roberts as chief justice. That judgment might be unfair—at the very least it is not completely true—but in any case, the Tea Party concluded that it was now urgently necessary to raise the consciousness of the American people to this new threat.
At this point we should note the paradoxical character of the Tea Party: It is a populist movement to defend the Constitution, but the Constitution is meant, among other things, to limit populism in our politics—to channel, moderate, and refine popular passion through constitutional forms, such as elections, officeholding, and the rule of law. The point was to ensure, as The Federalist put it, that the reason, not the passion, of the public would control and regulate the government. So it was incumbent on the Tea Party to try to keep its populist means in line with its constitutional ends. And it is in this respect that the Tea Party has sometimes fallen short.
Last fall, the Tea Party seized upon the latest Continuing Resolution to try to bring down Obamacare. Granted, Continuing Resolutions, the multi-thousand page omnibus spending bills that pass for appropriations bills these days, are abdications of Congress’s own budget process and derelictions of its constitutional duty to protect the public purse. Yet bad things can sometimes be used for good purposes. But mainstream Republican leaders warned that the Tea Party senators never had a realistic plan to obtain the votes to defund Obamacare in the Senate, or beyond that to overcome Obama’s veto pen. President Obama needed to fund the government, but he felt, rightly it turned out, that he could hold out longer than the GOP could. The architects of the government shutdown could never answer the question of how victory might be achieved.
Apparently their hope was that an outraged American public—fresh from voting in 2012 to re-elect Obama and to increase the Democratic majority in the Senate by two seats—would rise up and put such pressure on recalcitrant Democrats that they would defund the program that their party had been longing for since Franklin Roosevelt. In relying on such an unlikely outcome, the Tea Party showed its own populist brand of impatience with the separation of powers, bicameralism, and the legislative process that the Constitution prescribes. In imagining that the American public could be persuaded to reconsider the results of an election hardly a year old, the Tea Party surrendered to its own version of the “leadership theory” that liberals have long preferred to legislative-executive politics of the constitutional sort. The implicit argument was that by going over the heads of party leaders and constitutional officeholders to appeal directly to the people, the Tea Party could generate its own mandate to trump the mandate just awarded in the election.
Appealing to the people, of course, is a time-honored tactic: Ronald Reagan was famous for saying that if you can’t make politicians see the light, you can at least make them feel the heat! But Reagan appealed directly to the people from the bully pulpit of the presidency, not from the Senate floor, and he made sure to explain the issue in pellucid and persuasive terms. We learned from Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich in the 1990s that it really is impossible to run American government from Congress. So as the Tea Party’s unreasonable hopes faded, it had to settle for less and less: delaying the individual mandate rather than defunding it; verifying the subsidies of policyholders in the insurance exchanges; abolishing the medical devices tax; delaying the medical devices tax; and so on. The Tea Party leaders were pushed back and back and were forced to ask for less and less, until they ended up with virtually nothing.
The Need for Political Thinking
To summarize, the Tea Party has been right about the threat posed to the fabric of constitutional government by Obamacare and by other brazen assaults on the Constitution, such as President Obama’s asserted prerogatives to choose which laws to enforce and to make recess appointments when there was no recess. But the establishment Republicans were right about the outcome of the effort to defund Obamacare by tying it to the Continuing Resolution. One might conclude then that these two groups need each other—not only in the sense that they need each other to get to a majority in the House of Representatives, but also, at least for the time being, in the sense that each supplies the other’s defects. In that light it is neither wise nor moderate for members of either group to lambaste members of the other as political enemies—something of which both sides have been guilty.
The Tea Party could do itself and the country a great service by working out what a return to constitutional government might really mean, and thus the strategy and tactics appropriate to that. What is needed is less populism and more political thinking on its part, or on the part of its trusted advisors. Political thinking and constitutional thinking are not opposed, of course, any more than putting together a political majority and defending the Constitution are opposed. Indeed, these two great duties, properly understood, are implicit in each other. It’s doubtful that the Republican party can succeed without doing both.
After a century of Progressive mining and sapping of the Constitution, the great document we count on to defend us now needs our defense, and the form of government issuing from the Constitution is itself in need of restoration and renewal. Let me end by giving a few examples of how to bring the spirit of the Constitution and the spirit of conservatism closer together.
Tea Party leaders are eloquent on the point that the Constitution does not make the Supreme Court its final arbiter. Let them apply that insight to Obamacare. The problem with Obamacare is not merely that it will ruin health care, but that it undermines the whole notion of rights—natural rights—that come not from government but from our own nature and from God. Yes, it is unfair, unworkable, and unaffordable. But to leave the argument at that leaves the Constitution out of the picture. So when denouncing Obamacare, let’s hear more about its unconstitutional aspects.
The fattest target is the Independent Payments Advisory Board (IPAB), which is unconstitutional on its face. IPAB consists of 15 members who are not elected by the people but appointed by the president. Their job is to make recommendations to limit Medicare’s budget by reducing reimbursements to doctors. Unless both houses of Congress overrule IPAB by passing their own equal or greater cuts to Medicare, IPAB’s proposals automatically become law. What’s worse, Obamacare conspires to make IPAB permanent by mandating that no resolution to repeal it can be introduced before January 1, 2017, or after February 1, 2017. In other words, the Constitution would be operational for one month only—and even then the repeal must pass by August 15, 2017, in order to be valid, and it could not take effect until 2020!
Congress could presumably unravel these restrictions and undo IPAB anytime it wanted. Nonetheless, the spirit and the letter of this kind of regulation suggest just how averse (and adverse) to the Constitution Obamacare really is. To think that Congress couldn’t repeal it, except for one month, and that even then repeal wouldn’t take effect for three years afterwards, is astounding. Why don’t Tea Party leaders talk more about that in condemning Obamacare? I think the American people would be indignant over this attack on their liberty to govern themselves. But they won’t be angry if conservatives don’t inform them about this travesty.
Conservatives should be calling for other kinds of reforms as well, in order to apply the consent of the governed to regulations which form so much of the substance of modern government. Let’s call for a vote by Congress on all regulations costing $100,000,000 or more. That’s one idea already in circulation. Or why not require the Appropriations Committee, or some combination of committees and committee chairmen in Congress, to approve all regulations, approved by any agency, so that there has to be some democratic say-so before any regulations become law? That does not require changing the Constitution, only a change in the law. We should also require Congress to follow its own budget rules. This doesn’t require an amendment either, only vigorous partisanship on the part of Republicans of every variety. We should insist on 13 appropriations bills for the 13 departments, which would give both parties a chance to fight it out, make what cuts we can make, and decide what is more essential and what is less essential. These kinds of reforms, well short of constitutional amendments, would help to reinvigorate congressional accountability and constitutional government.
If conservative officeholders don’t start to correct these structural deformations in our government, and if the Tea Party doesn’t turn its formidable patriotism and energy to enlightening the American people about how we are losing control of our own destiny, then no matter how many good policies we enact, or how low we set tax rates, the body politic will continue to sicken, and self-government will slip through our fingers.