That Pesky Constitution
Is the Constitution becoming the left's new target?
That thought struck me the other night over dinner with my liberal friend, a lawyer and part-time professor. Among his choice statements, "Maybe it's time to get rid of the Constitution and start over." No doubt he was echoing the sentiments of Georgetown law professor, Louis Michael Seidman, who suggested just that in a New York Times op-ed. It's been several weeks since Seidman made his remarks, and now, it appears, the floodgates are open. Liberals feel they can speak freely about their true intentions for our country.
It wasn't too terribly long ago that talk of dismantling this country's most sacred document would get you labeled a crackpot. But now? Well, it's apparently fine. Never mind that lawyers are sworn to uphold the Constitution.
It seems ironic that we're living in a time when it's perfectly acceptable for the president to talk about the Constitution as some sort of barrier and for academics to talk about trashing it, while words like liberty and patriot have become pejoratives. Remember the 2009 Missouri Information Analysis Center report? It flagged Ron Paul supporters and people with libertarian bumper stickers as potential terrorists.
Apparently, people who care about the principles upon which this country were founded are to be watched, while those who talk about tossing the Constitution are given a national platform on which to speak and plum positions in academia.
Why would the government be so frightened of those who care about freedom and liberty unless it was working against those things? After all, if the government was working to safeguard our freedom and liberty, wouldn't it be applauding those who support those ideals?
The problem with pesky things like the Constitution, especially the first ten amendments, known as the Bill of Rights, is that they were designed to limit the power of government, not the people. And liberals want ever more control over our lives. The idea of limited government is an anathema to their agenda.
It's not enough that the government wants control over our health care and our medical records. They want to tell us what we can eat and drink -- no foie gras, no big sodas. Surveillance cameras are becoming ubiquitous. Drones are next. NSA whistleblower William Binney says the government is spying on every single American. We have to watch what we say in emails and on the phone lest we get a visit from Big Brother. Now, the government seems intent on limiting our gun rights. (Though Obama insists otherwise, stating that he is constrained by -- surprise -- the Constitution.)
Take all this into consideration and you can see why the left wants to scrap the Constitution. Tapping into our electronic communications has Fourth Amendment implications. Having to watch what we say in emails and on the phone has a chilling effect on our First Amendment right to free speech, and there are Second Amendment issues with limiting our gun rights. Wouldn't it just be easier to start over without such "archaic" provisions, as Seidman calls them?
In his op-ed, Seidman refers to the founding fathers as "a group of white propertied men who have been dead for two centuries" and "knew nothing of our present situation." Sure. If the founding fathers were alive today, they would understand the need for government surveillance 24/7 of all Americans, the need to nationalize our car companies, our health care, for tax rates of 40 percent, and debt in the trillions so entitlement programs could be paid for. If they could have seen Sandy Hook, they would understand the need to limit our Second Amendment rights. If they could have witnessed 9/11, they would toss the Fourth Amendment. If only they could have seen it.
If liberals are so unhappy with the Constitution, there's a process for amending it. If they can get support for their ideas, by all means, have at it. In the meantime, they should try to learn a little something from history: leaders who limit liberty sow the seeds of their own dissent. It's human nature to want liberty and freedom. Our founding fathers understood this. They also understood the need for limited government -- that power corrupts, and thus the need for annoying little things like the Bill of Rights.
Ellen Meade is a freelance writer in Atlanta.