Has anyone noticed how much our society now talks about their “rights”? President Obama just signed a massive bill, clocking in at well over 2500 pages (between the original bill and the reconciliation), which creates huge new deficits, another gargantuan bureaucracy, and allows the government ever more power to intrude into the private lives of its sovereign citizens. This was all done under the guise of a newly found “right” to health care.
In 1973, the Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice Warren Burger, discovered a “right” to privacy that had managed to elude the Founding Fathers and all of the subsequent legislatures and courts for almost 200 years, and under this right America has callously witnessed the extermination of over 50 million of its most vulnerable; the unborn.
This week it was announced that the public transit system of a south Atlanta metro county was bankrupt and services were discontinued. As I watched the news coverage I listened to a young man tell me that the transit system, plagued with corruption and mismanagement, should be made to continue running (no mention on who gets to pay the bill to make sure that it keeps operating) because public transportation is a “basic human right”? Really? Public transportation is a right?
With President Obama set to issue a series of executive orders today dealing with guns, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is speaking out against what is a clear overreach of power. During an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Sen. Paul explained that President Obama is behaving like a king, which is exactly what the Founding Fathers fought against.
“I’m against having a king,” said Sen. Paul. “I think having a monarch is what we fought the American Revolution over and someone who wants to bypass the Constitution, bypass Congress — that’s someone who wants to act like a king or a monarch.”
While President Obama thinks he’s getting around Congress with these executive orders, Sen. Paul warned, “[W]e will fight tooth and nail; and I promise you that there will be no rock left unturned as far as trying to stop him from usurping the Constitution, running roughshod over Congress, and you will see one heck of a debate if he decides to try to do this.”
Shortly after the election ended, some very angry people have created petitions at the White House to garner support for their states to secede from the United States. At first, I wasn’t even going to write anything on this because the idea is just so absurd and crazy, but some of these petitions, which have gained some media coverage, have gotten enough signatures to illicit a response from the White House.
I can’t believe I’m actually writing this post. Look, I can understand that people are upset that President Barack Obama was re-elected. They don’t see how it could have happened and they’re looking for ways to fight back; but this is exactly the wrong way to do it. Let’s take away the fact that this idea is just dumb for a few moments, and dive into the various reasons why it’s just not practical.
I realize that some of the Founding Fathers took a different view of this topic. After Thomas Jefferson won the presidential election in 1800, some northern states threatened to secede. Jefferson was indifferent. In an 1803 letter to John Breckenridge, Jefferson asked, “[I]f it should become the great interest of those nations to separate from this, if their happiness should depend on it so strongly as to induce them to go through that convulsion, why should the Atlantic States dread it?” The language here is important because our Founding Fathers looked at the states as “nations,” independent countries that joined together to form the United States.
If you’ve been paying attention to President Barack Obama and his allies in Congress over the last few years, then you know the appreciation for free speech is, well, non-existent. This problem isn’t limited to the Obama Administration or Democrats; after all, a Republican Congress and Republican president brought us one of the worst pieces of legislation in the last decade with the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act. However, the Obama Administration does bring us examples of contempt for free speech.
The exercise of free political speech is one of our bedrock principles in this country. Our Founding Fathers fought against the tyranny of King George III, who frequently sought to take the liberties of colonists and burden them with oppressive taxes. The Founding Fathers, using their natural right to free speech, fought back, condemning King George. With the Bill of Rights, they sought to recognize certain fundamental, natural rights to ensure that the federal government knew its bounds; among them was right to free speech.
The very clear wording of the First Amendment — “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press” — hasn’t always prevented the federal government from passing laws to silence critics. Not long after the Constitution and Bill of Rights were ratified, President John Adams signed the Alien and Sedition Acts into law, which made it a criminal offense to criticize his policies.
The United States Constitution. Many consider it one of the greatest documents ever devised by man. The idea that men could govern themselves was radical. The United States was the first nation to ever try it. It’s just to bad that the Founders managed to also illustrate the folly of central planning.
What’s that? What in the heck did the Founders have to do with central planning? An excellent question.
You see, the Founding Fathers tasked with creating the Constitution were a small, select group of people. They wanted what was best for the new nation, and so they wrote out a guide. These were people driven by a noble ideology, that of a free nation, and yet they screwed up oh-so-royally.
“They didn’t screw up! We’re the ones screwing up the Constitution,” some might say. Well, you’re partially right. Unfortunately, where you’re wrong is that that the Founders did make mistakes. You see, there are a lot of areas where they were less than clear, or inserted things that weren’t really necessary. There are few actual definitions of what they wanted or envisioned.
Here are some examples. None of these even touch on the horror that was slavery, codified in a document intended to create a free nation (irony much?)
To promote the general welfare
That phrase is used to justify all kinds of crap. Every time someone claims an entitlement is unconstitutional, someone else will trot out this gem. Now, if you’re reading this blog, I’m going to assume you understand that this was not what it was intended to support. Instead, the government was to exist to protect an environment where people could take care of themselves. Unfortunately, that’s not what they said.
In an interview with a Middle Eastern television station, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, perhaps the most reliable Leftist vote on the Supreme Court, said that the United States Constitution should not serve as a basis of law in Egypt:
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has caused a storm of controversy by saying in a television interview that the people of Egypt should not look to the United States Constitution when drafting their own governing document because it’s too old and there are newer examples from which to draw inspiration.
“I would not look to the U.S. Constitution if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012,” Ginsburg said in the interview, which aired on Jan. 30 on Al-Hayat TV.
Her comments have stunned writers across the conservative blogosphere, though many major media outlets have not given much attention to it.
In the interview, she argued that the United States has the “oldest written constitution still in force in the world,” so instead “you should certainly be aided by all the constitution-writing that has gone one since the end of World War II.”
“I might look at the constitution of South Africa,” Ginsburg said. “That was a deliberate attempt to have a fundamental instrument of government that embraced basic human rights, had an independent judiciary.”
Ginsberg’s comments are reprehensible for a couple of different reasons. While our Constitution is imperfect, the Founding Fathers did include a mechanism for changing it via the amendment process in Article V. This process wasn’t supposed to be easy, but the process has served us well. Ginsburg failed to note this, at least in the comments that I’ve read.
As we head into the South Carolina primary where former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum may still have a shot at the GOP nomination, it’s worth recalling what Sen. Santorum had to say about libertarians and others who favor limited government during an interview with NPR in August 2005:
One of the criticisms I make is to what I refer to as more of a Libertarianish right. They have this idea that people should be left alone, be able to do whatever they want to do, government should keep our taxes down and keep our regulations low, that we shouldn’t get involved in the bedroom, we shouldn’t get involved in cultural issues. That is not how traditional conservatives view the world. There is no such society that I am aware of, where we’ve had radical individualism and that it succeeds as a culture.
This has rightly riled many libertarians, who insist that the “radical individualism” derided by Santorum was the basis for the American experiment. But libertarians should really be thanking Rick Santorum. He’s provided us with a valuable reminder that far from being a limited government ally of libertarianism, traditional conservatism is actually inimical to libertarian principles. Traditional conservatism was America’s first statist, big government ideology.
As discussions of repealing Obamacare have become more common, one of the arguments given for its repeal is that charity is not the job of the government. Indeed, the Constitution gives no authority for social justice, likely because the Founders recognized that charity was not the work of government:
“Charity is no part of the legislative duty of government.”
– James Madison
“I deem it the duty of every man to devote a certain portion of his income for charitable purposes; and that it is his further duty to see it so applied as to do the most good of which it is capable.”
– Thomas Jefferson
Even in the 1800s, it was understood that charity was not a role of government:
“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.”
– Franklin Pierce vetoing a measure to help the mentally ill
“I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution, and I do not believe that the power and duty of the General Government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering which is in no manner properly related to the public service or benefit.”
– Grover Cleveland vetoing a bill for charity relief
As we fight for individual liberty, we fight for individual responsibility. Charity is the responsibility of the individual – not government, and we must begin assuming that responsibility.
Though all citizens – Christian or not – have an obligation to do the work of charity, Christians have been specifically instructed to be charitable with our resources. Consider these passages:
With two Supreme Court decisions in the last few years affirming the Founding Fathers view that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to gun ownership, Gallup reports that Americans opposition to gun control laws are at a record low:
A record-low 26% of Americans favor a legal ban on the possession of handguns in the United States other than by police and other authorized people. When Gallup first asked Americans this question in 1959, 60% favored banning handguns. But since 1975, the majority of Americans have opposed such a measure, with opposition around 70% in recent years.
The results are based on Gallup’s annual Crime poll, conducted Oct. 6-9. This year’s poll finds support for a variety of gun-control measures at historical lows, including the ban on handguns, which is Gallup’s longest continuing gun-control trend.
For the first time, Gallup finds greater opposition to than support for a ban on semiautomatic guns or assault rifles, 53% to 43%. In the initial asking of this question in 1996, the numbers were nearly reversed, with 57% for and 42% against an assault rifle ban. Congress passed such a ban in 1994, but the law expired when Congress did not act to renew it in 2004. Around the time the law expired, Americans were about evenly divided in their views.