September 19, 2010
It's a Long Way Back to the Constitution
Back when Candidate Obama announced that he was only five days away from "fundamentally transforming the United States," most people didn't know what that meant any more than they knew who Obama was.
Obama was true to his word, and in just under two years, the attacks on our values and institutions have changed the country in fundamental ways. On the bright side, if not for the arrogant and reckless blitzkrieg that Obama, Pelosi, and Reid unleashed on the country, it is doubtful that comprehensive grassroots resistance would have materialized. Consequently, it appears as though Mr. Obama has reawakened a sleeping giant.
For generations, Americans were the proverbial frogs in the warming kettle, slowly losing their freedoms but with little concern.
In a sense, we may be thankful that President Obama cranked up the burner to a full flame without comprehending how the American people might respond.
To the bewilderment of the ruling class, the American people responded by flooding the congressional town hall meetings in the summer of 2009, demanding that their legislators "read the bill" before passing volumes of sea-change legislation. After the protests of the people fell on deaf ears, the people began to organize. Ironically, the former community voting-block organizer witnessed the American people organize in a way and at a level that can be described only as unprecedented in United States history.
Now, with the influence and success of the Tea Party movement in the midterm primaries, there is much debate over whether the movement will harm the GOP's chances of taking the House and/or Senate in the fall elections.
Commentators need to realize that the ambition of the Tea Party is not short-term. The goal is not merely the removal of liberals, but the election of people of courage who will return us to the Constitution. The movement which demands nothing less than constitutional government is farsighted. Even if a particular race is lost, it is of no significant consequence to have a liberal Democrat in office as compared to a liberal Republican.
To the establishment Republican leadership, elections are about mathematical calculations and compromising core values to win elections. To the Tea Party movement, elections are about electing people of principle to reform the government.
The main issue is not a question of whether the Republican Party will be successful, but a categorical statement that the Tea Party movement must be successful for the people to have any chance of regaining their liberties.
The movement goes against the traditional Republican wisdom, which says, "we must run a 'moderate' in this district because it's a liberal district." On the contrary, the character-based movement understands that the electorate is not rigid, but fluid. People change and are capable of moving from left to right. After all, the liberal Northeast, for example, was once the cradle of individual liberty. As the flames of fiscal oppression continue to consume the individual's standard of living, more and more moderates and liberals will find their inner conservative.
The bottom line is that come hell or high water, we have to get the federal government back to the boundaries of the Constitution (leftist policies are providing the hell and high water as incentive to vote conservative).
One example of the Washington "what Constitution?" mindset is spotlighted by what was conspicuously missing before Mr. Obama's demand to have comprehensive health care "reform" on his desk yesterday: honest debate on whether such a grandiose proposal would even be constitutional.
Speaker Pelosi didn't know how to respond to a reporter who asked which constitutional provision grants federal authority to impose an individual insurance mandate. The federal government has strayed so far from the Constitution that Ms. Pelosi's only response was "Are you serious? Are you serious?" before shaking her head in dismay and taking a question from another reporter.
Congressman Pete Stark of California's 13th summed up the liberal Democrats' position quite well when responding to a town hall question about the limits of the federal government's power. "The federal government can do almost anything in this country," Starks retorted. That's what liberals believe -- most are wise enough to not announce it, though.
Regarding federal power, here's what the father of the Constitution, James Madison, has to say:
The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected.
We have a systemic problem in this country which, in large part, was caused by the overreaching of the federal government. Big Brother has had his hands in almost everything, interfering in the affairs of the States and localities across the country for many decades.
The "progressives" in power have us on the wrong road in the name of progress. But as C.S. Lewis writes: "We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive."
Our adventure down the wrong road has led to the federal government amassing central control over the States in everyday matters -- the very antithesis of our founding principles. The feds have all but killed the liberty and diversity of the States. The federal Supreme Court has robbed the localities of their own moral values and traditions, and Congress has confiscated our wealth for purposes not delegated to it by the Constitution. And those abuses occurred before Mr. Obama showed up in Washington.
The degree to which Obama and the radicals wish to further "transform" America is the same degree at which conservative leaders must be willing to fight to reform America. In fact, the left's radicalism must be met with a stronger pushback of constitutionalism from the right. The pushback must not stop at where we were prior to Obama, but at where we must be under the Constitution.
Getting the country back to its basics represents a huge undertaking. It took decades and decades to get us to this place, and it will require more than a couple election cycles of voting out liberals and their Dear Leader to restore individual and state liberty.
Yes, it's a long way back to the Constitution. But we can get there in the United States via an ongoing ballot box revolution that is committed to electing true constitutional reformers.
Monte Kuligowski is an attorney whose legal scholarship has been published in several law journals.