Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Constitution is Dead

Every person elected as President of the United States must recite the following oath.

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Every president since FDR has utterly failed to uphold this oath.

Upholding the Constitution's sharp limits on government was once a sacred duty for the men who worked in the oval office, even if that meant making unpopular decisions.

They knew that limiting the scope of the federal government was crucial to the continuation of the American experiment. They knew that turning the federal government into a giant money pool would ultimately destroy the freedoms our forefathers had fought so hard for. They knew that, sometimes, they would have to make the hard choices, even if it meant they would be ostracized.

That is why they took that oath.

President Franklin Pierce’s 1854 veto of a measure to help the mentally ill read, “I cannot find any authority in the Constitution for public charity. [To approve the measure] would be contrary to the letter and spirit of the Constitution and subversive to the whole theory upon which the Union of these States is founded.”

One cannot even imagine a president today vetoing a reading program for the mentally ill. But that is exactly what presidents of the past did, on a regular basis. Our government, by design, was never meant to be a public charity. But that is exactly what it has become.

On the issue of using federal funds to build up infrastructure, something similar to Obama's recent Stimulus Program, President James Madison had this to say:

“Having considered the bill this day presented to me . . . which sets apart and pledges funds ‘for constructing roads and canals, and improving the navigation of water courses, in order to facilitate, promote, and give security to internal commerce among the several States, and to render more easy and less expensive the means and provisions for the common defense,’ I am constrained by the insuperable difficulty I feel in reconciling the bill with the Constitution. . . .”

Madison could find no provision in the Constitution allowing federal infrastructure projects precisely because no provision ever existed. The federal government, as the founders envisioned, was never intended to take on the responsibility of building roadways or transport. In their minds, these were best left to the states.

The definition for what is allowable under our constitution has shifted so much in the last 100 years that today's federal government would be unrecognizable to presidents of the past.

Today, every congressman goes to Washington with his or her hand out, trying desperately to funnel as much money as possible into their districts. This comes in the form of road projects, bridges, government office buildings, financial assistance, tax breaks, etc.

This system has shifted the focus of our lawmakers from good governance to begging. They beg for campaign contributions so that they can go to Washington, D.C. to beg for money to pay back their campaign contributors. Then they must beg for more to keep their constituents happy, so that they can win another election and beg for more. This cycle is destroying our nation. It is obvious from our ballooning federal debt. And We always want more. But we never want to pay for it.

This is where principled men and women are supposed to stand up and shout "No!" No to stimulus spending! No to health care spending! No to education spending! No to welfare spending!

We want all these things, of course. We think these things will end our reliance on our crappy jobs, or on our crappy economy, we think these things will set us free, free to do the things we really want to do.

But what many do not realize is that these things end up controlling us. Huge swathes of our economy, including millions of jobs, live or die depending on how much our government wants to spend on a particular project.

Our spending through Medicare and on health insurance tax cuts is driving health care prices through the roof, making health care unaffordable to anyone who is not receiving federal benefits.

Our spending on education has centralized control of tens of thousands of schools, millions of teachers, and tens of millions of students into the hands of a few people in Washington, D.C.

Our welfare spending, which we say helps people without jobs, takes money out of the economy, money that could have been used to create jobs for the very people we claim to be helping.

Just Say No

It is time to say "No." If you want special interests out of Washington, remove what is bringing them there: the money. If you want to cut spending and reduce the deficit, you have to remove money. If you want to bring politics back to the state and local level, where you actually have a voice, then you need to take back the money. But it begins by saying "No."

The transition will not be an easy one, but when have Americans ever shied away from a challenge? Living under a paternalistic government is easy, but it quickly builds dependence. And once you are dependent, you are no longer free. We claim we want freedom, but we need the government constantly. We need the benefits it gives us. We have stopped providing for ourselves. Instead we look up to the government, with our hands out. We have given our freedom away, in exchange for convenience.

America was not meant to have a government that cares for you, that picks you up when you skin your knee, that makes you sandwich when you get hungry. Americans are supposed to be brave. We are supposed to take what life gives us, good or bad, and thrive.

America was meant to be the land of opportunity, the land of freedom, the land where you did what you want, and took responsibility for yourself. That is what the founders had in mind when they penned the Constitution 224 years ago. The government was there to protect your freedom to follow your dreams, and little more.

America was not supposed to be easy. It was supposed to be free. We have strayed so far from that ideal that I do not know if we can ever find our way back. But I will try, because I know what must be done. I know what must be done to revive the American spirit, to get back to the ideals upon which this country was founded, to get back the ideals that made this country great.

It starts by saying "No."

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