When talking about the Constitution as the Founders and Ratifiers gave us, there tends to be two primary viewpoints – those that are in favor of strict limitations on federal power, and those who want those limits obliterated.
Stereotypes in our society generally separate those views by political party support – or even voting habits. People who vote Democrat are generally considered the ones who look at the Founders’ vision as old, outdated, or simply something that gets in the way of their political plans. Republican voters are generally seen as the ones who want smaller government, and the ones who cite the Constitution as justification for that reduction in federal power.
But, many people argue, individual Republican supporters often favor policies that are just as unconstitutional as their Democrat counterparts. They are many who have favored things like the Real ID act, the patriot act, indefinite detention, war without congressional declaration, and much more.
In my own experience over the years, I’ve often noticed a difference in how these two “sides” respond to Constitutional arguments. In talking with Democrats about federal actions they oppose, they’ll readily get on board with a viewpoint that the act in question is unconstitutional. But, when they favor it politically, it takes quite a bit more. And, often times, when providing a pretty convincing argument that the act is in fact unconstitutional, the response is generally something like this – “OK, sure. It’s unconstitutional. But why do we need to be stuck in a period two centuries ago. Those old white guys couldn’t have envisioned our needs for today.”
Basically, it all gets down to a political viewpoint. Use the Constitution when it supports those view, and trash it when it doesn’t.
On the other hand, in talking with Republicans about federal actions they oppose, they’ll also readily get on board with a viewpoint that the act in question is unconstitutional. And when they favor the act politically, it also takes quite a bit more explanation. Where I’ve personally experienced the greatest difference in responses is when providing a convincing argument that a Republican’s favored political program is unconstitutional. I can’t think of a time where I’ve heard that the Constitutional limitation should be ignored because it’s old, or because those “dead white guys” wrote the document. Instead, I have generally heard arguments like this. “Yes, I agree that the founders left marriage rules to the states. So we should amend the Constitution and make that a national issue!” Or, “OK, now I understand the PATRIOT Act issue constitutionally, and I really shouldn’t have been in favor of it when Bush was in office. But I’m not going to vote against Obama over this one issue – we’ve got to get him out of office!”
In general, I can understand these positions, even if I don’t agree with them. At very least, when nationalizing something, I’m hearing from these folks that a Constitutional mechanism should be used in some cases.
And, when learning that a favored program is unconstitutional, I’m getting less resistance to it, even when actions are taken which will perpetuate it.
While this isn’t a great success, it is a slight improvement. But, lately, I’ve noticed a new approach becoming popular, that’s just as bad, or worse. This viewpoint can be summed up no better than by this comment, from Paul in North Carolina:
“You are ensuring the enslavement of America thanks to your ‘purism’. Face facts and realize we must oust Obama.”
So let me get this straight. It’s us – the ones who want to follow the Constitution, who are the bad guys? It’s not the people who’ve given us nationalized education, nationalized health care, nationalized retirement funds, nationalized agricultural laws, and more. It’s the Constitutionalists who are now the enemy to republicans like Paul.
For Paul, I guess he doesn’t care about Republicans who paved the way for Obamacare with Medicare Part D. He doesn’t care about Republicans who paved the way for “Indefinite Detention” in America by setting it up and practicing it at Guantanamo Bay. He doesn’t care about the massive growth in food stamps recipients under Obama as a result of Republicans voting in favor of expanding them under Bush.
He doesn’t care about much, I guess.
For Republicans like Paul – and on the other side, like the “Peace President” who bombs people, extends the patriot act, and keeps guantanamo bay open – principle means nothing. Only winning does.
But, for them to say they want to “save America,” is this delusional? I think so.
Every election, we hear from people that the president must be ousted or “we’re all doomed.” But yet, there’s never been a presidential election in modern times that has brought this country anywhere closer to the Constitution. Not one.
The sad fact is this. America, as the Founders set up, was dead and gone long before Barack Obama or George Bush ever took office.
So, like Paul, if all you care about is your team winning, then yes, Constitution supporters are the enemy. And we are certainly that enemy to both Democrats and Republicans. Why? Because both sides have shown a complete disregard for the Constitution for a long, long time.
But, it doesn’t really matter to me if we’re their enemies. And, like John Adams so wisely wrote,
“Many of the ablest tongues and pens, have in every age been employ’d in the foolish, deluded, and pernicious flattery of one set of partisans; and in furious, prostitute invectives against another: But such kinds of oratory never had any charms for me. And if I must do one or the other, I would quarrel with both parties, and with every individual of each, before I would subjugate my understanding, or prostitute my tongue or pen to either.”
Bam. Enough said for me.