"I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents...." — James Madison.
Nineteenth-century historian Alexis de Tocqueville once observed, "Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word: equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude."
Tocqueville was commenting on liberty and free enterprise, American style, versus socialism as envisioned by emerging protagonists of centralized state governments. And he saw on the horizon a looming threat -- a threat that would challenge the freedoms writ in the blood and toil of our nation's Founders.
Indeed, a century after Tocqueville penned those words, elitist Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt tossed aside much of our nation's Constitution. Though its author, James Madison, noted in Federalist Paper No. 45 that "The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined [and] will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation and foreign commerce," Madison further states:
“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. The operations of the federal government will be most extensive and important in times of war and danger; those of the State governments, in times of peace and security. As the former periods will probably bear a small proportion to the latter, the State governments will here enjoy another advantage over the federal government. The more adequate, indeed, the federal powers may be rendered to the national defense, the less frequent will be those scenes of danger which might favor their ascendancy over the governments of the particular States. If the new Constitution be examined with accuracy and candor, it will be found that the change which it proposes consists much less in the addition of NEW POWERS to the Union, than in the invigoration of its ORIGINAL POWERS. The regulation of commerce, it is true, is a new power; but that seems to be an addition which few oppose, and from which no apprehensions are entertained. The powers relating to war and peace, armies and fleets, treaties and finance, with the other more considerable powers, are all vested in the existing Congress by the articles of Confederation. The proposed change does not enlarge these powers; it only substitutes a more effectual mode of administering them.”
FDR summarily redefined the role of the central government by way of myriad extra-constitutional decrees, and greatly expanded the central government far beyond the strict limits set by our Constitution.
Mark Alexander writes in the Patriot Post on September 24, 2004:
“If Roosevelt's "American principle" sounds somewhat familiar, then you're likely a student of history (or The Patriot). Not to be confused with the Biblical principle in the Gospel according to Luke, "From everyone who has been given much, much will be required...", which some Leftist do-gooders cite as justification for socialist policies, Roosevelt was essentially paraphrasing the gospel according to Karl Marx, whose maxim declared, "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs."
Some have suggested that Socialism is a Biblical concept, but the Bible places the burden of responsibility for stewardship on the individual, while Marx, FDR and his Leftist successors advocate that the state should enforce redistribution of wealth. In failing to discern this distinction, FDR set the stage for the entrapment of future generations by the welfare state and the incremental shift from self-reliance to dependence upon the state — ultimately the state of tyranny.
English writer, sociologist and historian H.G. Wells, whose last work, The Holy Terror, profiled the psychological development of a modern dictator based on the careers of Stalin, Mussolini and Hitler, said of Roosevelt's reign, "The great trouble with you Americans is that you are still under the influence of that second-rate -- shall I say third-rate? — mind, Karl Marx."
For the last 235 years, on the Fourth of July, Americans have celebrated the birth of the United States, and the founding ideas that have made it the most powerful, wealthiest, and freest nation in the history of civilization.
But as another Fourth of July passes, there has never been more uncertainty about the future of America — and the anxiety transcends even the dismal economy and three foreign wars. President Obama prompted such introspection in April 2009, when he suggested that the United States, as one of many nations, was not necessarily any more exceptional than others. Recently, a New Yorker magazine article sympathetically described our new foreign policy as “leading from behind.”
The administration not long ago sought from the United Nations and the Arab League — but not from Congress — authorization to attack Colonel Qaddafi’s Libya. Earlier, conservative opponents had made much of the president’s bows to Chinese and Saudi Arabian heads of state, which, coupled with serial apologies for America’s distant and recent past, were seen as symbolically deferential efforts to signal the world that the United States was at last not necessarily preeminent among nations.
Yet there has never been any nation even remotely similar to America. Here’s why. Most revolutions seek to destroy the existing class order and use all-powerful government to mandate equality of result rather than of opportunity — in the manner of the French Revolution’s slogan of “liberty, equality, and fraternity” or the Russian Revolution’s “peace, land, and bread.”
In contrast, our revolutionaries shouted “Don’t tread on me!” and “Give me liberty or give me death!” The Founders were convinced that constitutionally protected freedom would allow the individual to create wealth apart from government. Such enlightened self-interest would then enrich society at large far more effectively that could an all-powerful state.
Such constitutionally protected private property, free enterprise, and market capitalism explain why the United States — with only about 4.5 percent of the world’s population — even today, in an intensely competitive global economy, still produces a quarter of the world’s goods and services. To make America unexceptional, inept government overseers, as elsewhere in the world, would determine the conditions — where, when, how and by whom — under which businesses operate.
Individual freedom in America manifests itself in ways most of the world can hardly fathom — whether our unique tradition of the right to gun ownership, the near impossibility of proving libel in American courts, or the singular custom of multimillion-dollar philanthropic institutions, foundations, and private endowments. Herding, silencing, or enfeebling Americans is almost impossible — and will remain so as long as well-protected citizens can say what they want and do as they please with their hard-earned money.
Race, tribe, or religion often defines a nation’s character, either through loose confederations of ethnic or religious blocs as in Rwanda, Iraq, and the former Yugoslavia, or by equating a citizenry with a shared appearance as reflected in the German word “Volk” or the Spanish “Raza.” And while the United States was originally crafted largely by white males who improved upon Anglo-Saxon customs and the European Enlightenment, the Founders set in place an “all men are created equal” system that quite logically evolved into the racially blind society of today.
This year a minority of babies born in the United States will resemble the look of the Founding Fathers. Yet America will continue as it was envisioned, as long as those of various races and colors are committed to the country’s original ideals. When International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was accused of sexual assault against a West African immigrant maid in New York, supposedly liberal French elites were outraged that America would dare bring charges against such an establishment aristocrat. Americans, on the other hand, would have been more outraged had their country not done so.
The Founders’ notion of the rule of law, coupled with freedom of the individual, explains why the United States runs on merit, not tribal affinities or birth. Most elsewhere, being a first cousin of a government official, or having a prestigious name, ensures special treatment from the state. Yet in America, nepotism is never assured. End that notion of American merit and replace it with racial tribalism, cronyism, or aristocratic privilege, and America itself would vanish as we know it.
There is no rational reason why a small republican experiment in 1776 grew to dominate global culture and society — except that America is the only nation, past or present, that put trust in the individual rather than in the state and its elite bureaucracy. Such confidence in the average free citizen made America absolutely exceptional — something we should remember more than ever on every Fourth of July.
In celebration of the 235th anniversary of the signing of our Declaration of Independence, Time Magazine, the "journal of record" for the Leftist Illiterati (or as they prefer to be known, "the intelligentsia"), published a cover story featuring their errant interpretation of our Constitution. On an image of the shredding of that venerable old document Time posited this question: "Does it still matter?"
The short answer is, only if Liberty still matters. But Time's managing editor, Richard Stengel, begs to differ, having discarded Rule of Law for the rule of men.
In his boorish 5,000-word treatise on the issue, Stengel unwittingly exposes the Left's patently uninformed and self-serving interpretation of our Constitution, and he aptly defines their adherence to a "living constitution." That adulterated version of its original intent is the result of revision by decades of radical judicial diktats, rather than in the manner prescribed by our Constitution's Article V.
Stengel opined, "To me the Constitution is a guardrail. It's for when we are going off the road and it gets us back on. It's not a traffic cop that keeps us going down the center." According to Stengel, then, our Constitution just exists to keep us between the ditches and entitles us to swerve all over the road without consequence. Of course, that is hardly what our Founders intended, but Stengel insists that to ask "'what did the framers want' is kind of a crazy question."
Exhibiting a keen sense of the obvious, Stengel observes that times have changed and that our Founders "did not know about" all the advancements of the present era. Thus he concludes our Constitution must be pliable, or, as Thomas Jefferson forewarned in 1819, "a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary which they may twist and shape into any form they please."
Stengel insists, "The Constitution works so well precisely because it is so opaque, so general, so open to various interpretations," rather than, as "originalists contend, a clear, fixed meaning."
To assert that our Founders intended the Constitution to be "so opaque, so general, so open to various interpretations" is beyond any accurate reading of history. As noted previously, our Founders provided a method to amend our Constitution in Article V. The problem, of course, is that Stengel and his Leftist cadres know their agenda would never pass a Constitutional Convention and, thus, they circumvent Article V by discarding Rule of Law in deference to their own tyrannical rule.
Leftists have long labeled our Constitution an impediment to progress. It is a document, they claim, best-suited for an evolutionary interpretation — a view held to accommodate their changing, foundationless agenda.
In an effort to undercut the value of the very ideas that are central to our exceptional nature, progressives regularly denigrate our founders. More, they denounce those who defend America's bedrock principles as fanatical, even racist.
Consider recent remarks by Richard Stengel, managing editor of left-wing favorite Time Magazine.
Chiding Americans who hold to a traditional, or originalist interpretation, he writes: "We can pat ourselves on the back about the past 223 years, but we cannot let the Constitution become an obstacle to moving into the future."
And just what specifically is our Constitution supposedly obstructing? Why, "ObamaCare," of course, or some other "sensible health care system."
The Supreme Court could strike down this gross abuse of federal power next year. And this, the left knows. Richard Stengel's article is, in part, a not so subtle attempt to delegitimize the court's ruling should it do so.
Indeed, if leftists find themselves unable to push their poisonous policies through the courts, they know a shift in tactics will be needed. The narrative of an emergent strategy is already being tested.
What they pine for is much more than, say, a regulatory rule that bypasses Congress and the courts, or an executive order that does much the same. No, those are but appetizers — the low-hanging fruit. The larger aim remains a wholesale dismantling of our value system. Their radicalism repackaged to a skeptical public as principled, evolved, and even moral.
Remarks made by left-wing globalist Fareed Zakaria of CNN afford us a window into such warped thinking.
He peddles the inane notion that the Constitution is outmoded, that central principles within it should be "fixed." More, in his sage wisdom, Zakaria calls for the creation of a new "set of amendments to modernize the U.S. Constitution for the 21st century." And Iceland is forwarded as a country from which American's should draw inspiration. Iceland?
Like the CNN host, examples of those who endeavor to delegitimize the current system, its progenitors, and its proponents are legion, their bile on full display for all.
The natural rights of man outlined in our Declaration are enshrined in our Constitution as evident in its most comprehensive explication, The Federalist Papers, a defense of that august document by its author, James Madison, and Founders Alexander Hamilton and John Jay.
Here is what our Founders actually did write about our Constitution and Rule of Law:
George Washington: "The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their Constitutions of Government. But the Constitution, which at any time exists, 'till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole People, is sacredly obligatory upon all. If in the opinion of the people the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this in one instance may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed."
Thomas Jefferson: "Our peculiar security is in possession of a written Constitution. Let us not make it a blank paper by construction. ... If it is, then we have no Constitution. To consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution."
Alexander Hamilton: "If it were to be asked, 'What is the most sacred duty and the greatest source of our security in a Republic?' The answer would be, 'An inviolable respect for the Constitution and Laws — the first growing out of the last. A sacred respect for the constitutional law is the vital principle, the sustaining energy of a free government. The present Constitution is the standard to which we are to cling. Under its banners, bona fide must we combat our political foes — rejecting all changes but through the channel itself provides for amendments."
James Madison: "I entirely concur in the propriety of resorting to the sense in which the Constitution was accepted and ratified by the nation. In that sense alone it is the legitimate Constitution. And if that be not the guide in expounding it, there can be no security for a consistent and stable, more than for a faithful exercise of its powers."
There is no ambiguity about the intent that our Constitution, as written and ratified, specifies only one means for amendment, and all other methods are not only illegal, but more ominously as Washington noted, "change by usurpation.is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed."
Stengel's biggest whopper, however, is one I simply can't let pass without rebuttal. He writes, "If the Constitution was intended to limit the federal government, it sure doesn't say so. Article I, Section 8, the longest section of the longest article of the Constitution, is a drumroll of congressional power."
My chief witness against this ridiculous claim would be James Madison, "the Father of our Constitution." As Madison wrote in Federalist No. 45:
"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.”
Time magazine is but one of a surfeit of liberal propaganda tools which play supporting roles in the primary assault on our Constitution.
The lead actor is Barack Hussein Obama who, along with his cadre of "useful idiots," are systematically dismantling the last vestiges of our Constitution's Rule of Law mandate.
Thomas Paine once wrote, "An unwritten constitution is not a constitution at all." I beg you take note: Our Constitution is being "unwritten" at an unprecedented pace. Obama has mounted a well-organized and well-funded effort to "fundamentally transform" our nation into a socialist state by thus deconstructing our Constitution. He has deserted his oath to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States," in accordance with Article II, Section 1, and clearly never intended to "take care that the Laws be faithfully executed," as specified in Section 3.
Chris Hayes, Washington editor of "The Nation" writes about our bizarre fetishism with our Founding Fathers as reported by Real Clear Politics:
“I think [Michele Bachmann] shows there is this bizarre Founding Father fetishism that has taken over American politics, particularly in the last two years at the same time Barack Obama, the first African-American president, was elected. A certain portion of the population decided that what they wanted to do is swear fidelity to a vision of a certain group of white men who signed the Constitution and crafted it in 1776, 1787 with absolutely no wavering from what that original vision was. And that has kind of become a hallmark. Everyone is kind of trying to out-Founding Father each other. "And, it is our framers design of limited government, more particularly limited federal power, that Hayes and his ilk despise most. This central principle acts as a rampart against their brand of radicalism.”
So what are they to do? It's simple. Deny such limits exist. Cue Richard Stengel of Time once more.
He writes: "If the Constitution was intended to limit the federal government, it sure doesn't say so." Except that Constitution does say so and forcefully. The Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments, was crafted specifically to limit federal power. Stengel's claim to the contrary is as laughable as it is dangerous. The facts don't seem to matter just another "obstacle."
With the propagation of a government-centric brand of "change" an integral part of their narrative, liberals will continue to count on the ignorance of the ill-informed.
Dennis Prager, writing in National Review Online lays out a plan for a Fourth of July Seder:
“Four years ago, I wrote a column titled “America Needs a July Fourth Seder.” In it I explained that “national memory dies without national ritual. And without a national memory, a nation dies.” Many readers and listeners to my radio show responded by creating their own rituals to make the day far more meaningful than watching fireworks and eating hot dogs.”
He cleverly outlines a 10-minute plan for a “Seder” devoted to the meaning of the founding of the United States and our Deceleration of Independence. It is well worth your time to read Prager’s column.
As we celebrate America's independence we ought to reflect upon the enduring legacy of our Founders. Their unwavering bravery and daring defeated tyranny, their genius gave us a lasting Constitution — the very wellspring of our liberty, freedom, and their many blessings.