Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Constitution War

Believe it or not, the foundation of our beloved Republic has become a source of discord and a talking point for the Left lately. And there's a reason for it.

It started out with ├╝berLefty and Journolista mastermind Ezra Klein dissing the Constitution because, after all, it's confusing and hard to read because it was written more than a hundred years ago.

Later he made an absolutely hilarious attempt to walk it back, thus revealing his essential dishonesty, but he was followed by a number of figures on the Left after the Republicans opened the 112th Congress by actually reading the Constitution aloud.

Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA), for instance, launched a five minute tirade on the House floor protesting the reading.

Other Democrats like Jesse Jackson Jr. and James Clyburn got angry because the Constitution wasn't read in 'its original unamended version' - which of course would have included the language on slavery.

Clyburn even went as far as to link the reading of the Constitution with the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords on Ed Schultz's radio show.

Ironically for Clyburn and his ilk who now want to censor talk radio and freedom of speech, Congresswoman Giffords was one of the few Democrats who accepted the GOP's invitation to participate in the Constitutional reading, with her part being the 1st Amendment.

The truth is, the American Left has been using the rights provided in the Constitution as a shield for years while doing its very best to pervert it into something very different than the Founders intended.

As Rush Limbaugh put it, it must have been absolute torture for them to hear it read aloud.It's no wonder a significant number of them ducked out, although the Republicans invited them to participate.

And it's easy to see why it was so painful for so many of them. The Constitution by its very nature is unique, in that it limits the scope and power of government, entirely the opposite pole of many of today's Democrats and certainly the President.For many of them, Big Government and statism is a religion in itself and hearing it read publicly by the Republicans must have been the equivalent of a devout Catholic sitting in on a Black Mass.

John Boehner and the Republicans had good reasons of their own to start off the 112th Congress by reading the Constitution. For the past two years, we have been treated to an orgy of Big Government that has trampled on both the letter and the spirit of that sacred document. The Republicans wanted to send a message to the American people, to President Obama and to the Democrats that things had changed, and they wanted to remind themselves why the people sent them there in the first place.

Speaker John Boehner made the same point in his acceptance speech:

In the Catholic faith, we enter into a season of service by having ashes marked on our foreheads. The ashes remind us that life in all its forms is fragile – our time on this Earth, fleeting. As the ashes are delivered, we hear those humbling words: “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

The American people have humbled us. They have refreshed our memories as to just how temporary the privilege to serve is. They have reminded us that everything here is on loan from them. That includes this gavel, which I accept cheerfully and gratefully, knowing I am but its caretaker. After all, this is the people’s House. This is their Congress. It’s about them, not us. What they want is a government that is honest, accountable and responsive to their needs. A government that respects individual liberty, honors our heritage, and bows before the public it serves.

Let’s start with the rules package the House will consider today. If passed, it will change how this institution operates, with an emphasis on real transparency, greater accountability, and a renewed focus on the Constitution.

Our aim will be to give government back to the people. In seeking this goal, we will part with some of the rituals that have come to characterize this institution under majorities Republican and Democratic alike. We will dispense with the conventional wisdom that bigger bills are always better; that fast legislating is good legislating; that allowing additional amendments and open debate makes the legislative process “less efficient” than our forefathers intended.

These misconceptions have been the basis for the rituals of modern Washington. The American people have not been well served by them.


Let us now move forward humble in our demeanor, steady in our principles, and dedicated to proving worthy of the trust and confidence that has been placed in us. If we brace ourselves to do our duty, and to do what we say we are going to do, there is no telling what together we can accomplish for the good of this great and honorable nation. More than a country, America is an idea, and it is our job to pass on to our posterity the blessings bestowed to us.

You'll notice that I refer to the Constitution as a sacred document.

That attitude would particularly incense Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), a secular Leftist and 'Progressive' who's the outgoing head of the House Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution, civil rights and civil liberties.

Nadler called the "ritualistic reading" on the floor "total nonsense" and "propaganda" intended to claim the document for Republicans. "You read the Torah, you read the Bible, you build a worship service around it," said Nadler, who argued that the Founders were not "demigods" and that the document's need for amendments to abolish slavery and other injustices showed it was "highly imperfect."

We'll get to slavery in a moment, but allow me to explain why Nadler is very, very wrong.

Our Constitution is unique because it was created by men who had as their starting point the notion that men have rights endowed upon them not by some bureaucrat or king, but by G-d. As such, they formulated it with the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule in mind. While it does not hold the answers to everything, it is a nearly perfect document for ordering how men may live with one another in society..which after all, is what religion is really all about in the end, a code of rules and conduct for men and women to live by.

To quote RamaKrishna, spirituality is useless if it isn't practical, if it doesn't affect how people live in the day to day world. The Constitution does that, and the proof is that it has kept our peaceful and free Democracy functioning for 230 odd years. And in those instances where the actions of men and government have deviated from those rules, it has provided a framework for correction, not by adding more government control but by doing exactly the opposite. Above all, the Constitution is the most successful document of its kind that enshrines political and personal liberty and provides a framework and rules for making it work.

As such, I think it's worthy of a little worship.

That this would be anathema to the Left is a given, because they have no trust in anything but government coercion.

And speaking of coercion, let's talk about slavery for a moment. Contrary to what you'll hear from the like of Jesse Jackson Jr. the Founders did not approve of slavery, they merely acknowledged it. The difference is important.

The more prescient of the Founders realized that slavery was a problem the nation would have to deal with eventually, so they provided the means for its ultimate demise. First they mandated the individual states to decide whether to allow it or to disallow it, and second, they refused to let slave states use their slave population to increase their representation in Congress, thus assuring that slave states would always be a minority.

This was the famous 'three fifths of a man' clause so beloved of people on the Left who want to illustrate their contempt for the Constitution and the Founders. In fact, that clause represented a compromise between the slave states, who wanted to increase their clout in Congress by counting all slaves as full constituents and the abolitionists, who didn't want the slaves counted at all.

Both positions were flawed; to count people as 'constituents' who had no vote and no voice and were chattel property would have been comparable to counting livestock, and would have given the slave states added clout in Congress and in the electoral college they did not merit, as well as making slavery a more permanent institution immune to reform. To not count them at all was equally flawed. It would have failed to acknowledge that the slaves were people who had the right to at least have their presence acknowledged, and would also have split the new Republic at birth, thus eliminating any possibility of eventually eliminating what Abraham Lincoln later famously called 'the Evil Institution'.

And in fact, one of the first things the new nation did, in 1804, was to outlaw the further importation of slaves to America, thus dooming the slave states to a minority status forever. It took another sixty years and a bloody war to eliminate it entirely, but it was done. And it might have happened even sooner and more peacefully if not for the Democrat's success in passing the Kansas-Nebraska Act and Democrat President James Buchanan's illegally pressuring the Supreme Court to rule in favor of the extension of slavery in the Dred Scott decision.

Our Constitution was written before the demise of slavery and before Woman's suffrage, but it provided the framework for both to happen when the nation was ready because of the principles it was based on. And the further we get away from those basic principles, the closer we get to statist tyranny and the loss of a key part of what makes America an exceptional nation.

In view of what's happened in the last few years, House Speaker John Boehner was extraordinarily wise and prescient to start off the 112th Congress by reading this marvelous document to which we owe so much, and I think history will bear him out.

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