September 24, 2011
Conservatives, Sisyphus, and the Renewed Constitutional MovementBy Mark J. Fitzgibbons
The key to saving America and its exceptional nature is in the math, but it's also very much about the law. More and more people are coming to understand the inextricable link between the decline of American exceptionalism and government lawbreaking.
Rasmussen polling shows that only 28 percent of Americans believe that government operates with the consent of the governed. Consent of the governed, of course, is one of the main principles of the Declaration of Independence.
Gallup polling has shown that for two decades, Americans who self-identify as conservatives outnumber liberals two to one. Liberals, however, have disproportionate control of government.
Based on the math, it is an inescapable conclusion that conservatives are doing something wrong.
The intellectual underpinnings of the conservative movement, which began in the 1950s, were expressed by first-generation conservatives Russell Kirk and William F. Buckley, Jr. and the movement's earliest high-profile political leaders, Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan. The foundations of the conservative movement were grounded solidly in Madisonian liberal constitutionalism.
First-generation conservatives reacted to the post-Wilson/Roosevelt America that had shifted away from principles of individual liberty and property rights and towards big-government statism. The early conservative movement also battled big-government, establishment Republicans, epitomized by Nelson Rockefeller, over the heart and soul of the Republican Party.
Conservatives have had a problem governing because, for the most part, statists control the halls of government power. Statists therefore control the levers of the law, and they have turned the law against constitutional principles.
Unless we reclaim the rule of law, conservatives will forever be like Sisyphus, the king in Greek mythology punished for eternity to push a rock uphill, only to watch it roll back down over and over again.
To coincide with Constitution Day, but with themes intended to influence the 2012 election and beyond, second-generation conservative Richard Viguerie and I released a 63-page e-pamphlet titled "The Law That Governs Government: Reclaiming The Constitution From Usurpers And Society's Biggest Lawbreaker."
We present two major themes about the renewed constitutional movement, which is heavily influenced by the Tea Party.
The first theme of the pamphlet is that Americans, and particularly people who self-identify as conservatives, are coming to a defining understanding of the Constitution as the law that governs government. We've learned the hard way that the Constitution does not run on automatic pilot. It must be enforced on government.
This view of the Constitution as the law governing government is anathema to the political establishment. The political establishment shows great contempt for the Constitution as law that governs it.
Thomas Jefferson referred to the Constitution as "the chains" that bind mischief. When the Constitution is viewed as the law that governs government, as opposed to a more malleable compact or a whimsical "living document" that is not law enough to secure liberty, the second theme of the pamphlet is better understood.
The second major theme of "The Law That Governs Government" is that government is society's oldest, largest, and most pervasive lawbreaker -- so much so that there is no close second. Once we understand that government is society's biggest lawbreaker, we approach political solutions much differently.
While more and more people are coming to realize that government is society's biggest lawbreaker, our language hasn't caught up. Unlike lawbreaking in the private sector, where there are well-known terms to identify violations of law, we have no real terms to define all the different forms and levels of government lawbreaking.
We tend to say things like "noncompliance with the Constitution" or "no one is above the law" when referring to government lawbreaking. Our lexicon does not reflect the level of protections we need against government lawbreaking. Leviathan has become public enemy number one, but we don't have a poster for that.
The irony is that government claims to operate under the rule of law, yet it is nonetheless society's biggest lawbreaker. The law has become dictatorial and authoritative. It is now used to reduce liberty, not secure it. The law has become a big slap in the face to Americans.
Government is society's biggest lawbreaker because it has set itself up that way. Government has injected itself into private affairs in the name of regulating public matters. It is everywhere, so it has the greatest opportunity for lawbreaking. Government has all but eliminated its systems of checks and balances. It rigs the rules to protect its lawbreaking.
Our pamphlet has an appendix with over 200 items of government lawbreaking, most of them recent. The examples are diverse and range across federal, state, and local government lawbreaking, yet these examples don't even scratch the surface of all the ways that government breaks the law.
Mark Levin's bestselling book Liberty and Tyranny is a brilliant explanation of how and why conservatism is truly based in constitutionalism. The Constitution is law. Law, properly understood and exercised, is the foundation of securing freedom.
The law is therefore central to liberty and American exceptionalism. The left has manipulated and misused the rule of law as a means to violate our paramount law, the Constitution. If we reclaim the Constitution as the law that governs government, we are on the road to restoring American exceptionalism.
We have a window of opportunity to save America. The Tea Party and constitutional conservative movements have risen for a reason. We have great purveyors of conservative ideals, such as American Thinker and others. We have some, but not enough, candidates for elected office who actually make the Constitution a priority in their campaigns.
This is a credible thought: President Obama may be the last president of the progressive era in America, or the last president in the American era of the world. The window is now.
Our 63-page pamphlet goes into more detail, and it provides questions to test candidates about the Constitution and their fidelity to it. Above all else, the pamphlet is about what James Madison in Federalist 44 calls the "remedy obtained from the people," as if he knew we'd be at this moment.
The pamphlet does not have copyright restrictions; people may download it for free, copy it, and share it with or without attribution. The message is important enough to us that we aren't concerned with who takes credit.
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