Sunday, January 27, 2013

Constitution Outdated? I don't think so!

From CBS:
Professor: Take our country back, from the Constitution

  Original article tabbed and bolded:
I've got a simple idea: Let's give up on the Constitution.
 And what makes you think that this is a good idea?
I know, it sounds radical, but it's really not. Constitutional disobedience is as American as apple pie.
For example, most of our greatest Presidents -- Jefferson, Lincoln, Wilson, and both Roosevelts -- had doubts about the Constitution, and many of them disobeyed it when it got in their way.
Thank you for pointing that out. You're right that many presidents often disobeyed the Constitution, and that many of them had doubts about it. Let's go over your examples, shall we?
Jefferson: An Anti-Federalist, the party originally in opposition to the Constitution - and which only agreed to the Constitution on the condition that the Bill of Rights be added.
Lincoln: A Republican, engaged in Constitutionally questionable activities to keep the United Stated, United. Article One, Section Ten of the Constitution has a list of things that the States are not allowed to do. It is the only part of the Constitution that places limits upon the powers of the individual states. Secession is not on the list of powers prohibited to the states. Its important to remember that the South seceded because of state's rights and slavery (Confederate Constitution), and Lincoln contested the issue because he didn't want the Union to break apart (which is why the Emancipation Proclamation is kind of a joke - It only applied to the seceding states, which Lincoln had absolutely no control over at the time it was written).
Woodrow Wilson, on the other hand, instituted the draft to fight WWI, and afterwards fought with the Senate to join the League of Nations, the the even less effective precursor to the absolutely corrupt and ineffective UN.
FDR takes the cake, so I'll summarize: Social Security, Medicare, the rest of the New Deal, the draft during WWII. There is a reason why, after he died, the 22nd amendment was easily passed and ratified. He stacked the Supreme Court so that they would rule in his favor. He was elected for an unprecedented four terms and gained so much power that when he died, everyone else took immediate action to ensure no one could gain that much power ever again.
In conclusion, one of the examples took care of his objections to the constitution by amending it, one of them abused his power to hold the Union together, and two of them violated the Constitution for personal power. The Constitution didn't cover everything, but it's nice to know that when abuse of power happens, it is a violation of the Constitution.
To be clear, I don't think we should give up on everything in the Constitution. The Constitution has many important and inspiring provisions, but we should obey these because they are important and inspiring, not because a bunch of people who are now long-dead favored them two centuries ago.
 Just propose amendments, like everyone else.
Unfortunately, the Constitution also contains some provisions that are not so inspiring. For example, one allows a presidential candidate who is rejected by a majority of the American people to assume office. Suppose that Barack Obama really wasn't a natural-born citizen. So what?
There is a reason for that one. If Obama isn't a natural-born citizen, he will no doubt have sympathies for his place of birth, which, if his place of birth is hostile to the US, could very well lead to the US getting walloped because of the Chief Executive's sympathies.
Constitutional obedience has a pernicious impact on our political culture. Take the recent debate about gun control. None of my friends can believe it, but I happen to be skeptical of most forms of gun control.
I understand, though, that's not everyone's view, and I'm eager to talk with people who disagree.
That's good.
But what happens when the issue gets Constitutional-ized? Then we turn the question over to lawyers, and lawyers do with it what lawyers do. So instead of talking about whether gun control makes sense in our country, we talk about what people thought of it two centuries ago.
What they thought about it two centuries ago was that it is a necessary right for us to remain a free people, and therefore required protection (at least, the Anti-Federalists thought it needed protection - Turns out, they were right) .
Worse yet, talking about gun control in terms of constitutional obligation needlessly raises the temperature of political discussion. Instead of a question on policy, about which reasonable people can disagree, it becomes a test of one's commitment to our foundational document and, so, to America itself.

It provides an extra layer of protection to an absolutely necessary right. I'll take a guarantee of a right over rationality in a discussion.
This is our country. We live in it, and we have a right to the kind of country we want. We would not allow the French or the United Nations to rule us, and neither should we allow people who died over two centuries ago and knew nothing of our country as it exists today.
They might not know anything of our country as it currently exists, but they don't rule our country so it doesn't matter. The Constitution is the supreme law of the land, but in the end, its all about limiting the power of those who rule, not ruling our nation.
If we are to take back our own country, we have to start making decisions for ourselves, and stop deferring to an ancient and outdated document.
 An ancient and outdated document that protects your rights and limits the powers of government so that it can't take them away.