Skip to comments.Our Imbecilic Constitution
Posted on 05/30/2012 1:03:10 AM PDT by CharlesThe Hammer
Advocating the adoption of the new Constitution drafted in Philadelphia, the authors of The Federalist Papers mocked the imbecility of the weak central government created by the Articles of Confederation.
Nearly 225 years later, critics across the spectrum call the American political system dysfunctional, even pathological. What they dont mention, though, is the role of the Constitution itself in generating the pathology.
(Excerpt) Read more at campaignstops.blogs.nytimes.com ...
The author is right, though not for the reasons he states.
In most countries, when a party or coalition wins an election by significant margin, it controls all branches of government, with possible exception of the judiciary, and can efficiently implement its program. For a party to do so in our system requires the party to win at least two elections in a row, and possibly win elections for 20 years or more. As the article says, you have to get control over four branches of government: two houses of Congress, President and Supreme court.
IOW, if the American people in the next election were to elect a supermajority of conservatives, we still could have little significant change in policy away from our present disastrous course for at least two years, and possibly 20 or so.
This is because the Constitution was designed for a government of strictly limited powers and functions. It is entirely adequate for this purpose.
It is entirely INadequate for running a welfare state that “runs the country,” which is what 50% or more of the population wants. It can only do so by just ignoring large chunks of the Constitution.
Oddly, I happen to agree with the author’s claim that one of the biggest problems is how difficult it is to amend the Constitution. The present system does not in practice inhibit change, in a truly constitutional manner, it rather promotes the ignoring of the plain meaning of the Constitution and especially judicial reinterpretation of the Constitution to promote favored liberal causes. I favor instead an easier amendment process so such issues can be addressed through political means.
I believe we have two options. We can gradually make our way back to a government of limited powers and functions, returning to truly constitutional government, which I favor.
Or we can change our Constitution so that it works more efficiently to provide the welfare state many if not most Americans seem to want.
What I think we can’t do is keep limping along indefinitely trying to provide B with a system that is only suited for providing A.
Good grief. Painful idiocy.
Right, just like Caesar filling the Senate with Gauls and Celts to force his insanities on the Roman Republic. I gather this professor doesn't teach history if he doesn't know how that idea turned out. Sic Semper Tyrannus, nitwit.
Can you just imagine the new President calling on sixty fat cat campaign bundlers to be his personal toadies in Congress, delivering the votes for his sweeping new programs?: "Hi there, how would you like to come to Washington and instantly become one of the most loathed people in the country?". Yet, two paragraphs later the author bemoans nine unaccountable Supreme Court judges having undue influence on the nation?!
Oh, and hey: maybe these 60 empowered and unelected Presidentially-appointed congressmen could wear special snappy uniforms and stand directly behind the President at public appearances, cheering him on as he rants and raves about his designs for the Thousand Year Plan.
This NYT opinion piece was written under the influence of marijuana, I suspect. Just ghastly. Thank God in heaven for bestowing wisdom on the Constitutional Convention to write Article V into our Constitution.
Thanks. The most common response to my suggestion that the Constitution should be amended to make it easier to amend is outrage.
BTW, the author states the last truly substantive amendment was the 22nd, in 51. I disagree, as the “limiting the president to two terms” was strong custom prior to FDR’s breaking it, and IMO was unlikely to be successfully broken again. IOW, the 22nd codified something that was pretty much the case anyway.
Which leaves the 21st, in 1933, as the last “real” amendment.
I get a kick out of those who propose to overturn congressional or court action by amendment. They can’t win an election for a majority of Congress, but they think they can pass an amendment, which is at least 20x harder!
This was not the problem. The Republic had been comprehensively broken for many decades. The question was not whether it would survive or revive. It was what would replace it.
Caesar did not force "insanities" on the Republic. Pretty much all his reforms made a great deal of sense and were desparately needed. Few if any of his eventual assassins claimed they killed him because of his policies. They killed him because he was tyrannical, which he was, and was shutting them out of power.
Lots of his eventual successors did insane things, but not Julius.
When the Congress passes and the President signs a 2,000 page law that no one has read, I don’t see gridlock as a problem.
If one sees the passing of such legislation as “progress’, then one must be a Progressive.
“I favor instead an easier amendment process so such issues can be addressed through political means.”
What is your proposed “easier amendment process”? As it is, liberal “living and breathing” constitutional interpretation is about as easy as it gets. Under that aegis, the constitution means whatever they say it means in the moment. Why bother to write it down at all?
The answer is to staunchly engage in the political process to make the elected branches adhere to the Constitution and reshape the judicial and administrative state.
Jonah has a mole writing editorials on West 41st Street.
The initial concept was that the People would be most directly represented by the House, the Senate would represent the interests of the several States, and the Executive branch would represent the interests of the Federal Government while providing a check to the power of the Congress via the veto. The States have been reduced to implementers of Federal Policy, bribed with the taxpayer's money.
I believe the intent was for the Federal Government to provide for the common defense, settle differences between the States, establish standard weights and measures, coin a unifying currency, and maintain a system of transferring information (the Post Office).
It really doesn't take much to update those concepts without stripping the states of power if the Federal Government does not exceed its duties.
Our current mess comes from the constant expansion in size and scope of the Federal Government, as does most of our crippling debt.
Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.Generally speaking, we are no longer a moral and religious people.
-- John Adams
Anyone with a modicum of intelligence can read the constitution and understand what it says and does not say. But over the years politicians, lawyers and other greedy, power hungry people have pretended not to understand the clear meaning of the constitution. They have magically found words and meaning that isn't there and have redefined much of what is there to suit their purpose and further their agenda.
A moral and religious people would not debase the constitution for their own profit or political gain.
The usurper now sitting in the White House is the best living example of those who have no resppect for the constitution and view it as a hurdle to clear rather than a guide to govern by.
Florida made it easier to amend our State Constitution. We ended up with an amendment which made it illegal to keep a pig in a cage. Not a law, but a Constitutional Amendment.
American blood will be shed on American soil by Americans if this crap DOES NOT STOP! Not one person alive today can lick the boots of any one of our Founders.
From the latest Soros talking points. The NYT is just filled with good little Nazis.
Can you just imagine the new President calling on sixty fat cat campaign bundlers to be his personal toadies in Congress, delivering the votes for his sweeping new programs?
NYT just prepping the way for Obamarxist’s lifetime dictatorship.
I guess the Presidents ability to appoint un-vetted and un-confirmed Czars is not good enough for this Lib.
Repeal that dastardly 17th amendment and see how fast the whole Republic goes into auto-correct mode.
Sanford Levinson- Constitutional Faith Princeton U. Press 1988
I suspected when reading it that he was numbered with those on the other side of the House divided against itself.To borrow from Abraham Lincoln ,1858 -as he borrowed from the Sacred Writ. This editorial has served to affirm that first impression.IMO the Constitution would be ok if only the mere politicians -the men governed by ambition more than Reason would only understand it according to the meaning of the terms used as understood when the supreme law of the land was adopted by the people. Problem is we are now decades and more into “progressive” decline generated in large part by Dewey-eyed educators. Beguilers who have addicted the people to to the “promise” of a bright and shining LIE.
Agreed. An incredibly stupid amendment essentially doing away with the power of the States over the central government which was an irreplaceable part of the original checks and balances.
While we are zapping ammendments, can we get rid of the 16th(income tax) too?
The problem is that We The People want our government to provide “stuff” that cannot be efficiently provided using the Constitution as originally written.
So we have the choice of ignoring what the people want (which won’t stand in a democratic system), ignoring what the Constitution says, or changing the Constitution so it can efficiently provide what the people want.
Unfortunately we have gone with option B. Which has no logical stopping point. If you ignore provisions A thru E of the Constitution, why strictly enforce provisions F thru L?
The Founders, if alive today (besides being totally appalled at what our society has become) would never write the Constitution they did in the 1780s. They tried to produce a system of government adapted to their society. Today’s society is so different it is ludicrous to try to run it the way they did. Working today they would produce a vastly different system.
Personally, I think the answer is federalism. Return the federal government to its original limited role. If the People want a welfare state, let it be provided at the State level. Which actually would not violate the original Constitution, which put remarkably few restrictions on what States could do internally.
Far from violating it, it was part of the original plan that each state would be a " laboratory of democracy"
My Confederate ancestors would agree with you.
Our Constitution is a gift from noble, moral and prescient men. They were romantic idealists believing in the transcendent power of a benevolent God and willingness of humans to seek his approval.
The light of that belief is flickering as is our ability to draw order from our founding documents.
It is no coincidence that as the light of faith and belief in our creator diminishes, chaos emerges. No amount of thoughtful laws and governmental guidance can counter the loss of divine guidance.
If God’s law doesn’t bind us, Man’s law certainly won’t.
If we can ignore the Ten Commandments, we can certainly ignore the Bill of Rights.
In the 2000 presidential election, Al Gore and the democrats took the shroud off a nasty secret. They showed the country that our election system is essentially operated on the Honor System" and that anyone who was willing to destroy the nation's faith and confidence in the honor and fairness of our elections could use dishonesty, guile and rule bending to mount an attempt to steal the election.
Without a care for the well being of the nation they displayed for all to see that the honor and integrity of the system was only as strong as the honor and integrity of the political powers engaged in the electoral process. Rules and laws do not make the dishonest honest or the dishonorable honorable.
In the last three years Barack Obama has displayed for us that the same truths apply to the US Constitution: its strength is derived from the honor, reverence and respect accorded to it by citizen and politician. Obama has shown us that he holds the Constitution in contempt, not reverence, and has chosen to violate it many times over.
So we see that the strength and honor of the nation itself is only a reflection of the strength and honor of its citizens and leaders.
Corrupt, dishonorable leadership, supported or enabled by a corrupt, greedy citizenry has brought down the greatest civilizations in history from ancient Egypt to Rome to Germany in the last century. It is sad to watch it happening to the USA right before our eyes.
It is also relevant that in the 1850s the later secessionists demanded significant expansion of federal power in order to protect slavery against opposition by northern states based on their States' Rights.
A corrupt, dishonorable government can only be elected by a corrupt, dishonorable citizenry. And the latter deserve the former.
However, incorrupt, honorable people are neither bound by nor subjects of corrupt, dishonorable governments. That was the essence of our Declaration of Independence, and it holds true today.
the new NYC effete meme is “radical individualism”
should be replaced by “conservative collectivism” with the
progressives “reclaiming” true American history.
There was a nutjob on NPR advocating these new communist meme as a means of supplanting the tea party and bypassing fox news. (as if msnbc or cnn are anything other than communist propaganda)
The NYT wants to make voting meaningless.
They failed with every vote counting since every vote was counted.
They failed with stop the fraud since voter fraud is being attacked.
this is machiavelian to get the tyrany they desire.
(In states where the judges were voted out of office, their progressive/leftist/communist goals were expunged from the law. They hated that. They need tyrany)
Academic simpletons like Levinson will always get a platform in the NY Times to grieve about how “gridlock” is slowing the Democrats from turning America into a communist welfare state. Because of the stinking Constitution, America will never be as great as France or Spain, etc.
Our founders were complete morons in some aspects:
1. They did not forsee what drooling idiots the political class wouldbecome.
2. Knowing 1, they would have published a “Constitution of examples” alongside the constitution that would cite examples of their intent. Like for instance: “The Federal government cannot take away people’s guns or other weapons not because billy bob wants to hunt, but to protect billybob if the local government wants to take away his gun and then round up all of billy bob’s family for extermination because everyone in the state voted an idiot in for govenor” or “The reason we give slaves 3/5 a count in census is to prevent any state that has slavery from overwhelming the House of Represenatives and then passing an amendment to make legal in all the states, not because we actually think that a slave is 3/5ths of a person dag nabbit”
3. They overestimated how good we as a people would be in the future and this led them not to codify some g-ddamed common sense into the constitution because at the time it was “common sense” like a amendment limiting the number of pages and words per page for bills etc. They didn’t forsee all the weasely crap evil people would do to get around the constitution.
4. They didn’t realize how powerful the supreme court would be.
5. They didn’t expect the government to declare war on vague concepts like poverty and drugs which led to all sorts of rights abuses.
I could go on. I think we need a new consitition, but this time one that reinforces the good things about the consitition while limiting goverment EVEN MORE!
See Ann Barnhardt.
What we need is a third branch of Congress whose sole purpose is to repeal laws and regulations. Instead of ranking members by seniority, this branch would rank them by the number of of repeals they sponsored. Also, their pay would be determined by the number of repeals...
In the 2000 presidential election, Al Gore and the democrats took the shroud off a nasty secret. They showed the country that our election system is essentially operated on the Honor System” and that anyone who was willing to destroy the nation’s faith and confidence in the honor and fairness of our elections could use dishonesty, guile and rule bending to mount an attempt to steal the election.
Let me reinforce this by pointing to the dishonored Nixon. When presented with incontrovertable proof that the Democrats stole the election from Nixon and gave it to Kennedy by manufacturing votes in Chicago ... Nixon judged that contesting the election would so polarize the nation that it would be better for the country for him to accept the fraud.
History will judge whether he was correct.
That’s better than pretending the constitution would actually allow their “progressive” vision.
I think it was Fritz Hollings (maybe it was Byrd), he was for McPain-Feingold but realized it was against the first amendment and voted no (and proposed an amendment allowing the violation of free speech).
After being dragged through the filth, corruption and open law breaking of the Clinton and Obama years the trangressions of Nixon become almost miniscule. The way Clinton and Obama conducted themselves in office make it hard to recall wht people were so upset with Nixon.
But of course, Nixon was a Republican and his era was a time when there was still some expectation that a president would avoid even so much as the appearance of wrongdoing in office.
Unlike Clinton, Nixon revered the office of the presidency and held it in highest regard. He had the class to leave office quietly without putting the country through the trauma of an impeachment trial.
And unlike Obama, Nixon was an American through and through, in mind, in spirit, and in action. He vigorously fought America's enemies - he did not welcome communists, socialists into the White House and give them medals.
I do believe that Nixon will fare well with unbiased historians as time passes.
I better never get a fatal illness, for I would be obliged to visit them and share my opinion.