Oblige Government to Control Itself
The Constitutional rights of politically-active citizens across our country are being shredded. As corrupt politicians are engorging on power while trampling over individual rights, it is time to reassert the notion that government's legitimacy derives from abiding by its limited powers, which ultimately flow from the consent of the governed.
Beginning with the 112th Congress, Republicans started the tradition of opening Congress by reading the Constitution from the floor of the House. This was more than a symbolic gesture, and given the rampant political corruption in the states, their legislatures also need to affirm constitutionalism.
Our founders distrusted mobs, and were equally aghast at prospects of a tyranny of the many as they were the tyranny of the monarchy. John Adams even described some Americans as "vile, detestable and loathsome." Of course, he was mostly referring to the urchins in Philadelphia, particularly those imbibing gin and habituating debauched establishments, but in general he believed you can't have democracy without lots of discipline.
This was duly delivered through our Constitution, which founded a republic that disperses power and institutes checks and balances in case the better angels of our nature lie forever dormant. James Madison observed that angels require no government, but we're no angels. Therefore, in a government administered by men over men: "...you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself."
Well, government hasn't been very obliging lately, but it sure has been out of control. President Obama has contorted "faithfully executing" the laws into unilaterally implementing only the bits that are politically expedient. Vis-à-vis the constitution, his DOJ is vile, the IRS is detestable, and the EPA is loathsome.
State governments are also running amok over their citizen's natural rights. From politically perpetrated prosecutions against the Wisconsin Club for Growth to the devious haranguing of Project Veritas by New York State, they also need grounding in constitutionalism.
In Wisconsin, not some tin-pot dictatorship, mind you, but the home of Bucky Badger, there's clear misconduct stinking up the Milwaukee County Prosecutor's office. District Attorneys are not only investigating, but persecuting political groups that supported Governor Walker. Their noxious tactics included pre-dawn raids on homes and offices; confiscation of equipment; and requisitioning of private records.
Fortunately, Eric O'Keefe, leader of the Wisconsin Club for Growth, is stalwart, and has the resources to file a federal civil rights lawsuit against prosecutors in Wisconsin.
In New York, the Department of Labor is harassing Project Veritas, compelling a comprehensive audit. The Project is led by James O'Keefe, whose hidden videos of government worker shenanigans are trying to bring some promised transparency to government. Curiously concurrent with Governor Cuomo's intolerance of unwelcome conservative "extremists," Project Veritas is now caught in a perverse state legal labyrinth that drains its financial wherewithal and curtails its activities.
Speaking of perverse, Senator Schumer of New York is so ill-disciplined and engorged on power that he condones IRS targeting of conservatives. That is detestable, and Schumer and his collaborating IRS ogres certainly need some constitutional discipline since they can't control themselves.
It's no coincidence that those who perpetrate government malfeasance discount our Constitution. Pretentious progressives sneer at its relevance when it curtails their grand schemes for state aggrandizement. And evangelists of social equality and income redistribution are particularly peeved that it restrains their grandiose dreams of a social utopia. I guess they haven't learned from history the futility of contradicting human nature's imperative to not only cooperate, but to compete. They'd rather we all be equal in failure than unequal in success.
Democrats with unbounded imaginations of social justice need a constitutional straitjacket to constrict their flailing activism. I suppose we could resort to the ballot box, but as we've seen recently, even constitutionally-protected political activities are not immune to Democrat schemes to quell opposition.
Rousseau, an eminent philosopher of the Enlightenment, postulated that while humans are inherently good, we get corrupted rather quickly by social institutions. It seems that as soon as we establish civil society to protect ourselves from the daunting vicissitudes of unfettered nature, we have sown the seeds of corruption. Rousseau believed that the only way to get back to the natural goodness of human beings is to be as close to nature as possible. That may be impractical, but a reinvigorated commitment to constitutionalism may regenerate some semblance of natural human decency.
Most assuredly, our Constitution is a framework for minimalist government that recognizes the ascendency of individuals over the organic state. It's not a panacea for all government abuse, but injecting some contemporary verve into its perpetual principles by reading it loudly and clearly from legislative chambers can only help protect constituents from the slimy, suffocating tentacles of the great leviathan.
Many constitutions, especially those born of patriotic state power, are facades for government by despotism. When corrupt institutions are run by zealots who believe the nanny state always knows best, look closely... you'll see a rehash of futile policies that contradict human nature and have previously been consigned to the scrapheap of history.
We got lucky. We got really lucky. By extolling the virtues of individual liberty rather than state glorification, our brilliant founders crafted an amazing social compact that protects us from government caprice.
If no one is always right, not even evangelists of social equality, then dispersal of power and constitutional checks and balances are prudent. Reinvigorating constitutionalism won't make us angels, but it will oblige government to control itself.