October 5, 2009
Is Obama's Handling of Honduras a View of Our Future?By Robert A. Bonelli
The United States is different from most other countries in many ways. One unique aspect of our country is that our elected officials, officers of the court, and the military, all pledge their allegiance to the Constitution and not to an office, individual or party. This assures continuity of the ideals set forth by the founders.
The Supreme Court of Honduras in conjunction with their Congress and military reacted to defend the Honduran Constitution earlier this year, when President Manual Zelaya introduced a referendum to change the Constitution to permit him to run for another term outside of the term limits specified in their Constitution. Aside from his action being extremely unpopular, their Supreme Court ruled his move illegal and thus took action to defend their Constitution and, with the approval of their Congress, had their military remove him from office.
The entire world condemned the Honduran leaders' corrective measure. It was not surprising to see countries not used to defending a written set of ideals react negatively to the Honduran action, but it is shocking to see the President of the United States and his administration join with these other nations in condemning the Honduran defense of their Constitution.
The Obama administration went further and cutoff aid to this brave nation that did nothing more than take a stand that their government is subject to their people and not the other way around. Our history, our culture, our DNA clearly should have every American confused and frightened.
Before the reader reacts and thinks that my introduction is simply another criticism of Mr. Obama, please keep your mind open and to one important fact, some history and finally a look current events.
The fact necessary to understand is that the Constitution of the Untied States specifically delineates those rights and authorities granted to the federal government by the people. If powers are not specified in the body of the Constitution or its Amendments, then according to the Tenth Amendment those "powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
A look at our history shows that there have been attempts by the Executive branch of our government to grab powers not specifically granted to it by the Constitution. In February of 1937 as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) started to run into problems getting his reform measures past constitutional challenges, he attempted to expand the number of justices on the Supreme Court so that he would be able to appoint a majority that would find in favor of those reforms. This action, known as ‘packing the court', was greatly opposed by just about everyone at the time including his own party.
While FDR lost the legislative battle to change the make-up of the Supreme Court, he did shock the system enough to see most of his reforms squeak through judicial scrutiny by 5-4 votes.
Also during Franklin Delano Roosevelt's presidency, the federal government tried to institute a mandatory insurance plan -- Social Security. The concept is clearly related to insurance, in that participants would pay a premium in return for a benefit. Mr. Roosevelt knew that the American people would not support another entitlement program during a time of extreme economic difficulty, but would find an insurance plan more acceptable.
In order for the concept to work, all working Americans would have to buy into the program. Understanding that the federal government was granted the power to tax but not to mandate the purchase of insurance, his administration worked with the Congress to pass the initial version of the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (what we know as FICA) in 1935. The strategy was simple: pass a measure that would survive a judicial review if challenged.
Over the years since, FICA revenue collected has been channeled into the general funds of the federal government; drawn upon and spent for anything the federal government wanted to spend it on; and replaced with Treasury notes -- hence the only real support of Social Security is the U.S. Treasury and the federal government's ability to tax.
Thus Social Security is really only another federally supported entitlement program operating in the guise of an insurance plan. This was clearly a grab of power and a side-step away from the Constitution. Don't misunderstand me; Social Security is a worthy concept. However, in order for it to work, choice had to be taken away from the people. Have I got you attention now?
Now let's look at current events. Why is Mr. Obama condemning Honduras? Could it be because he also is about to side-step a constitution -- our Constitution?
The various versions of the healthcare reform measures passed by three House Committees along party lines by the Democrats and about to be passed by the Senate Finance Committee, most likely along party lines by the Democrats, will require all Americans to purchase health insurance. If passed by the full House and the full Senate -- most likely under an extreme budgetary measure known as reconciliation, which requires only 51 votes -- and then rationalized in conference and passed by both chambers and signed into law by Mr. Obama, there will clearly be -- or there should be -- a constitutional challenge.
At that point, the people of the United States will be facing the threat of a new law that the majority of Americans have so far indicated they do not support; a constitutional challenge; and a president that has demonstrated contempt for constitutional doctrine. Have I got your attention now?
This is not about healthcare reform. This is not about a new tax. This is not about redistribution of wealth. It is all about the power to govern. Does it rest with the people, as is clearly stated in the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution? Can the federal government ignore the majority of the people; violate the Constitution; and assume a power not specifically granted it by the people?
Did you ever think that a tiny poor nation struggling to hold to the precepts of its freedom as Honduras is would be a stand alone beacon of truth and right? Did you ever think that this tiny nation trying to hold on to its freedom would be condemned for doing so by an American president? Did you ever think that we may be facing a similar constitutional challenge?
Regardless of your support of Mr. Obama, your party affiliation, your individual political beliefs or lack of them, you need to remember that you are an American and this country has achieved more than any other country in history because we are free people, protected by a piece of paper. That paper, the Constitution, is a mighty shield but is mighty only if defended by the people it protects.