Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Constitution - It's About More than just Words

The following editorial was written in response to last January's Republican gimmick to open the 2011 session of the House of Representitives with a reading of the US Constitution. I use the term "gimmick" because ... well ... the GOP doesn't exactly have a good track record of living within its meaning.

Be that as it may, here is the editorial followed by exerpts from the comments section:

Reading of the Constitution should include every word

fpparent January 10, 2011 at 6:53AM

And if you knew anything about Consitutional history, you'll know that the 3/5 clause that liberals are so quick to judge has absolutely nothing to do with human value. It was a measure added to prevent slave owners from using those slaves to enhance their states' representation in Washington.

zemack January 10, 2011 at 6:49PM

Fpparent is right here. Slavery was wrong, not the 3/5 clause. That clause was a victory for anti-slavery factions – which couldn’t at the time muster the political strength to completely eradicate that ancient evil from American soil - because it limited the electoral power of the slave states. In essence, the South was not allowed to have its cake and also eat it. It was not allowed to accrue any political benefits from a segment of the population that at the same time was denied its individual rights – i.e., treated as less than fully human.

The 3/5 clause is politically irrelevant today, not because it’s shameful or unimportant, but because that particular manifestation of slavery no longer exists in America. Today, we partially enslave the productive members of society under an unconstitutional predatory welfare state.

zemack January 10, 2011 at 7:59PM

The Constitution is indeed an “imperfect document”. But that imperfection stemmed from the fact that it didn’t fully implement the principles laid down in the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration is the philosophical foundation of America. The principles it laid down were unalienable individual rights possessed equally and at all times by all people and a government charged with the task of protecting those rights. Those rights were understood to be sanctions to freedom of action to pursue one’s own happiness, not an automatic claim to material benefits that must be provided by the forced labor and confiscation of the property of others.

Aside from the abolition of slavery, the constitutional change mechanism bestowed by the Founders was not employed to remove the imperfections so as to fully implement America’s Declaratory principles. Instead of moving America toward the fully free society envisioned by the Founders, the “living document” feature exploited those imperfections, such as the unfortunate wording of the Commerce Clause, eminent domain, and tolerance for tax-funded education, to completely eradicate the Founding principles, and instead push the nation steadily down the road to ever more omnipotent government.

The result is an “empty constitution” – one devoid of any guiding principles. But a free nation that abandons its core principles, as America has, will not remain free. The editors laud the “ever-changing rough draft of history”. But without the constraints of a constitution based upon rational political principles such as those laid down in the Declaration, a nation’s government is like a sociopath lacking morals or conscience. It is a rogue government, guided by nothing but the latest whims of any court, legislature, or electoral majority that chooses to reinterpret the “unfinished document” according to the political winds of the moment. The big winner in such a game is government power. The big loser is the individual.

America’s “living document” no longer protects our freedom because the “changes and scratch-outs and doodles in the margins” weren’t confined within the boundaries established by the Declaration of Independence – a document that in its essentials is a perfect one. It established the framework for a servant government that recognizes the supreme value of the individual – which each and every one of us is – and that “promotes the general welfare” by protecting individual rights from violation by fellow men and, most importantly, from the government itself. We're not quite at "rogue government" status yet, but we're getting there. We must rediscover and relearn our unique heritage, and bring our nation back within its bounds.

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