The stakes are high in the upcoming election. And the choice is clear: President Barack Obama is an open critic of the Constitution; Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, is a Constitutionalist.
Obama is a follower of Theodore Roosevelt (Republican), Woodrow Wilson (Democrat) and Franklin Roosevelt (Democrat), all of whom were critics of the limitations on executive power that are imposed by the Constitution. FDR even had the chutzpah to write his personal Bill of Rights for the nation – they have ever since has been followed by Democrats as if they were actually in the Constitution.
Romney, on the other hand, believes that the “living constitution” theory of interpreting constitutional law is responsible for the run–a-way federal spending of the last five decades and the consequential level of national debt that threatens to bankrupt a nation that was not long ago the richest and the most powerful the world has ever seen The key question of the times that should be directed to each candidate is this: What is your view concerning Article I Section 8 of the Constitution and the associated Amendments 9 and 10?
Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution of the United States enumerates the specific powers that are granted to the federal government. The Colonists weren’t satisfied that the original language sufficiently kept the federal government from becoming another version of the all-powerful monster they had just defeated during the Revolutionary War. They demanded more protection; they thought they got it in the Bill of Rights, especially in Amendments 9 and 10.
Amendment 9 states: “The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” And to hammer the point home, Article 10 states: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
It is apparent that the Founders and the Colonists wanted to create a government that would protect them against predators but would, by and large, stay out of their private lives. And they thought that they had that protection under the amended Constitution. They were right for more than 100 years. Then a few egomaniacs assumed power and decided to re-make the country.
The Constitution tied them down. The solution? Invent a new way of interpreting the Constitution (a living document) that permits the government to do almost anything.
Roosevelt gave national status to the Progressive Party in 1912, and both he and Wilson propounded the ideas of progressives (socialistic). Wilson won that election , and the next one – an articulate man, he gave life to the “living constitution” approach to governance, and this way of interpreting the Constitution was pounced upon by liberals. Also, it found its way into in law schools and into the judiciary.
From that time to this, presidents have tried to pack the Supreme Court with originalists or with living constitutionalists, which is why we have so many 5-4 decisions. In short, our judges now rule on the law in two fundamentally different ways.
FDR and his administration had many bouts with the Supreme Court until, finally, his enemies left the Court and his friends arrived. Much of what he did to cure the sick economy of the Great Depression was unconstitutional (and unsuccessful). When he left office, Constitutional restraints were practically demolished.
Nothing radically changed thereafter until Lyndon Johnson took office. An unrestrained admirer of FDR, he followed the lead of his mentor and, with the assistance of a veto-proof Congress, he completed the demolition of the Constitutional chains on the growth of the federal government with his Great Society programs.
And what did these progressive presidents do with their new-found power? They taxed and they spent and spent, more than the nation could afford. That’s why the U.S. is deeply in debt, not because of the cost of wars, but because of the ambitions of men who put careers above country -- who bought votes and power with gifts from Washington.
This history is important to know because Obama too is a “living constitutionalist.” He does not accept limitations on federal power, any more than FDR or Johnson did. Debt has increased on his watch more than it has on any other – it now exceeds the value of the nation’s GDP, a perilous position. He has not faced the triggers of debt – unaffordable entitlement programs that need restructuring. He will continue to spend if re-elected. It’s all he knows.
The only way to stop this national drive to suicide is to get rid of leaders who think the Constitution is useless and to elect those who regard it as a blessing.
Many voters think the economy, foreign policy, gay rights or favorite entitlement issues are the problems. True, to a limited extent. But the central problem is this: Will our leaders abide by the law, as it is expressed in the Constitution? Beware of those who say no; embrace those who say yes. Choose wrong and say good-bye to the Constitution and to the freedoms it protects
Robert Kelly, author of several books on baseball and history/politics, is also a freelance, award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in many newspapers. His latest books, The National Debt of the United States and Neck and Neck to the White House, are available at Amazon and the better bookstores. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org