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Serious About the Constitution
Nancy Pelosi was reportedly asked a question by a reporter at an Oct. 29 press conference: "Madame Speaker, where specifically does the Constitution grant Congress the authority to enact an individual health insurance mandate?"
Commentary by Steve Scroggins
Her response to this query was quite telling. "Are you serious? Are you serious?" she replied. Pelosi then took another reporter's question.
Barry Goldwater's 1960 book, THE CONSCIENCE OF A CONSERVATIVE, expressed what’s now deemed a "radical" idea. Goldwater asserted that the first question a Congressman should ask about any proposed bill is NOT whether or not it is a good idea. The first question should be: "Does the Constitution authorize Congress to act?"
Since Goldwater left the Senate, flagrant trampling of the Constitution proceeds virtually unquestioned. Ron Paul is treated as wacky radical. The current Congress is continuing the open contempt for the Constitution demonstrated since the FDR period through LBJ to the present day. The D.C. Leviathan and our national debt are growing faster than kudzu on a manure pile in a rainy July. [The text of Walter Williams' commentary "Constitutional Contempt" is at bottom. ]
It's high time for the Enumerated Powers Act as proposed by Rep. John Shadegg (R, AZ). But if the Congress ignores the Constitution, should we believe they would obey statutory law?
The Constitution gave us the blueprint for a republic, not a democracy. It's an important distinction. The Constitution's focus and purpose was to limit government, specifically, what the central government may or may not do. Its fatal flaw is that it requires a virtuous and moral people.
"We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a religious and moral people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other." --John Adams, 11 October 1798
John Adams noted that our Republic was designed and fitting only for a moral people. Moral people do not approve when government steals from some citizens in order to give benefits to others. Theft is always wrong, even when the government does it under the guise of "benevolent" purposes.
The Founders were very wary of "democracy" for they knew it always led to a tyranny of the majority. Thomas Jefferson expressed the beliefs of many of the Founders this way, "A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine."
Our pretense as a nation under the Rule of Law is a farce. We are, at best, a mob rule democracy...on our way to the absolute tyranny we so richly deserve. As H.L. Mencken once wrote, "Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard."
The Founders provided a very specific---and onerous--- amendment process for the Constitution. That process requires deliberation and overwhelming majority approval, not only in D.C., but also in three quarters of the State capitols. The process was made onerous in order to check runaway passions and popular fads from leading to a tyranny of the majority. The process also was made deliberate to force proposed changes to be visible, understood as departures from the original intent and open to debate.
The States once had nullification and other checking powers but all those were destroyed (in practice) in Lincoln’s war. The 14th Amendment was never properly ratified but was declared so anyway. The 16th Amendment (income tax), the establishment of The Federal Reserve and the 17th Amendment neutered the States and released the D.C. Leviathan to grow out of control. Until The Fed and these Amendments are addressed, suggests Thomas DiLorenzo, we are stuck in a situation best described as "Constitutional Futility."
James Madison wrote in Federalist #10:
"Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their death."
The USA converted, in practice, from a republic to a democracy during the reign of FDR. Without a miraculous change of course, our democracy's brief life is almost over and its violent death is imminent.
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