An odd title for this essay, but I think an apt one nonetheless. Today in 2010 America, the manner in which we’re being governed is not the way it is supposed to be. We have our leaders at the federal level constantly preaching the benefits of this or that legislation is for the “middle class” or “hardworking Americans”, and that to pay for this or that social scheme that “the rich” will have to bear more of the burden.
Now, maybe I’m just proving myself to be the dolt that a few of my detractors have labeled me, but my reading of the Constitution doesn’t give the president or the Congress any authority to hurt, help or otherwise claim dominion over “the people.” Rather, the Constitution is quite clear and specific as to who and what our elected federal representatives may or may not help. And in all cases, it is the STATES…or the collected assemblage of these states, our Republic. Not people, not individuals or not social classes. But what do I know, I rely on that quaint, outmoded technique called reading comprehension to determine my opinion on the facts placed before me.
How can I prove this? Well, Article I, Section 8 “Powers of Congress” does not mention once the word individual, person, citizen, human, etc. It refers to the powers of Congress in regards to the United States. Certainly the United States is comprised of individuals, but first and foremost it is comprised of 50 independent sovereign STATES. And what’s even more clear is that no such authority or powers over individuals exist for the president as well.
The simple fact is that the only entities with any authority over the people who inhabit them are the STATES. It is only when we get to Article VI “The States” that any authority is granted in regards to ‘Citizens’ and ‘Persons’ by the Constitution. And this authority is furthermore bolstered by the Tenth Amendment. Not the federal government, the STATES!
In my opinion what has happened since the dawn of the 20th century is that individual American STATES and citizens have been snookered and tricked, and in some cases bought off with federal “entitlements”, into allowing an extra-Constitutional intrusion into our individual lives on the part of the federal government. By the rights proscribed to it by the Constitution, the Congress has no power to enact laws regarding health care, education, social programs, jobs, entitlements, etc. as they pertain to an individual citizen. They may only do these things as they pertain to the 50 states in our Union. We have allowed OUR laws to be Shanghaied by the ‘lawyerly’ class and even worse, we have allowed an almost religious sect be formed regarding the Constitution and the laws of our land. We have fostered a situation where there are law-givers and law interpreters, but the PEOPLE bear no place in the process except to obey these laws once they are thrust upon us.
But this is a gross perversion of the intent of the Founders. They wanted the United States to be a user friendly social compact. They didn’t intend to replace an all-powerful monarch, selected by heredity, with another similarly powerful monarchy, selected by our votes. But that’s precisely what has happened. Somehow, we individual citizens have let our collective guard down and have allowed our betters to interpret OUR laws using the vaguest of vague penumbral interpretations and readings. We have allowed two words in the Article I, Section 8 — “Welfare” and “Commerce” to be the ticket to legislative tyranny not seen in this country since the reign of King George.
The saddest part of all is that WE have allowed this to happen, for whatever reason. Millions of people don’t vote, millions vote for personal gain or benefit (or shall I say entitlement?), and millions more vote because they are told to do so and for whom (and perhaps million more vote who are prohibited, like felons and the dead!) And even worse, we are discouraged from discussing the Constitution in an informed manner because our educational system refuses to place much value in us being Constitutionally aware. No, our Constitutional awareness and discourse has been transmogrified into political party bickering and trying to obtain primacy over the goody giving that has become the raison d’etre of the federal government.
So for me, it’s not just enough to throw the bums out. Our problems run deeper than the group of 540 or so individuals who make up our elected federal representatives. No, our problems are systemic and run much deeper and thus need stronger medicine than a mere change of faces. Unfortunately, the change needs to occur in each of us, or in a majority of the voters who turn out each election. We need to place more emphasis and value in those individuals who promise us less, but similarly promise to hold dear and faithfully observe each provision as written in the Constitution. Until we get this tacit fealty, we are doomed. There is just no other way to express it.
But I’m also a realist, as I fear we’ve reached the tipping point in our society where more people obtain benefit from their vote — so why not vote for an utterly anti-Constitutional candidate regardless of the overall impact to our nation? We may have already entered into that democratic suicide pact with our government that cannot be stopped no more than a runaway train may be.
Unfortunately once we’ve reached that tipping point, there is exactly ZERO remaining chance that we can regain a solid Constitutional footing in the operation of our federal government. Let’s face it, only a fool would vote to slaughter and barbecue their cash cow! So, the only thing left that we can do is hold on tight and try not to be too negatively affected by the wild ride to wherever our situation as a country eventually takes us. Perhaps at some point it becomes every man and woman for themselves. Who knows?