Like a true leftist ideological warrior, this past Wednesday, Obama prepared for a speech on new gun control measures by surrounding himself with children who’d written him about gun-related violent crime. Like a soldier behind a wall of sandbags, the children were used as an emotional prop to protect Obama from the projectiles of logic and reason bombarding his weak position on the Second Amendment. The children were there to deflect the blows of contrarian facts which undermine his argument. They gave him the ability to make the argument, as the left is so masterful at, that opposition to his agenda was proof that his opponents don’t care about protecting children.
Hypocritically, just an hour after Obama surrounded himself with children to announce nearly two dozen Executive Orders meant to infringe on the ability of law-abiding citizens to defend themselves, White House spokesman Jay Carney was whining to the press about an NRA ad which referenced the fact that Obama protects his own daughters by surrounding them by men carrying guns (as he should). Said Carney, “Children should not be used as pawns in a political fight.” If the irony was any thicker, you could pour it over pancakes.
In Federalist No. 51, a Virginia farmer named James Madison mused:
But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.
Today — September 17 — is the day we celebrate the 225th anniversary of the signing of the United States Constitution by the U.S. Constitutional Convention. This document, which sought to protect man from himself by placing limits on the powers that a representative government would try to wield, is a watershed triumph in the history of human freedom movements, despite some of the gross violations of human rights that have been perpetrated against African-Americans, women, Asian-Americans and other groups since the founding. As written constitutions go, the United States is something of an anomaly: since 1789, constitutions have lasted an average of only seventeen years. That statistic makes the U.S. Constitution a pretty special document.
We hope you’ll join us in celebrating by taking the Bill of Rights Institute’s Constitution quiz to see how well you know the document that framed the United States government!
This week marked the 220th anniversary of the ratification of the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, collectively known as the Bill of Rights. Many Americans today would be surprised to learn that the Bill of Rights was adamantly opposed by some of the Founding Fathers, including Alexander Hamilton. Why? Hamilton explained in Federalist No. 84, declaring “I…affirm that bills of rights, in the sense and in the extent in which they are contended for, are not only unnecessary in the proposed constitution, but would even be dangerous…For why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do?” This alluded to the rule of “inclusio unius est exclusion alterius” (the inclusion of one thing necessarily excludes all others), whereby the very enumeration of certain rights as being free from regulation implied that all others were subject to the general legislative powers of the Congress.
Hamilton understood that the Constitution strictly limited the powers of the federal government, and feared a bill of rights would open the door for expansion of congressional power. James Madison, the “Father of the Constitution”, agreed there was not necessarily a need for the Bill of Rights, but was also not opposed to one. As he explained in an October 1788 letter to Thomas Jefferson, “My own opinion has always been in favor of a bill of rights; provided that it be so framed as not to imply powers not meant to be included in the enumeration. At the same time I have never thought the omission a material defect, nor been anxious to supply it even by subsequent amendment, for any other reason than that it is anxiously desired by others. I have favored it because I suppose it might be of use, and if properly executed could not be of disservice.”
The general welfare clause is one of the most horribly understood and most misused pieces of the United States Constitution, second only to the Interstate Commerce Clause. With it, Congress has exercises many wealth redistribution schemes with the argument that it’s constitutional. However, when you look at the Founding Father’s intent, nothing could be further from the truth.
To start with, let’s look at this quote from Thomas Jefferson:
“Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated.”
James Madison agrees:
“With respect to the words general welfare, I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators.”
It all looks pretty straight forward to me.
The phrase “general welfare” didn’t create a broad power that could be thrown around whenever someone wanted to justify taking from the rich and giving to the poor. No, it was guidance on how best to use the powers given to the Congress. They weren’t to work towards the benefits of a particular group, but for the benefit of Americans as a whole.
Nearly everyone in opposition to ObamaCare worked very hard to stop it before it made its way through both houses of Congress and to the President’s desk to be signed into law. Once President Obama signed the legislation into law, all of these wound up activists found themselves without an issue to focus on after a year of “debate” over healthcare reform. Some state officials took it upon themselves to file lawsuits over the newly signed law, while others sought to protect their constituents from the aspects they found to be Unconstitutional. Today, the Tenth Amendment Center provided another state-level action. From the press release:
“Now that Health Care reform has been signed into law, the question people ask most is “What do we do about it?” said Michael Boldin, founder of the Tenth Amendment Center. “The status quo response includes lobbying congress, marching on D.C. “voting the bums out,” suing in federal court, and more. But the last 100 years have proven that none of these really work, and government continues to grow year in and year out.”
“We recommend a different path, one advised by prominent founders such as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison - nullification,” said Boldin. Nullification, according to the Center, is the rightful remedy to an unconstitutional act, as it considers the recently-signed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to be. When a state nullifies a federal law, it is proclaiming that the law in question is void and inoperative, or non-effective, within the boundaries of that state; or, in other words, not a law as far as the state is concerned.
I can’t imagine the framers of the Constitution thought the simple wording of the 2nd Amendment would ever be brought into question.
A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
A lot of Americans know that the US government is out of control. Anyone who has cared enough to study the US Constitution even a little knows this. Still, very few of these people are taking any significant action, and largely because of one error: They are waiting for “the good guys” to show up and fix things.
Some think that certain groups of politicians will pull it together and fix things, or that one magnificent politician will ride in to fix things. Others think that certain members of the military will step in and slap the politicians back into line. And, I’m sure there are other variations.
There are several problems with this. I’ll start with the small issues:
During an election year, voters frequently hear politicians point to public to prove support for their agenda. In trying to push through his tax hike prospoal, President Barack Obama has noted on several occasions that most polls show that Americans believe higher-income earners should pay more in taxes. Another example would be polls that show opposition from Americans to the Citizens United ruling, which protected political speech for domestic corporations.
But should the majority rule? During the debate over ratification in New York, James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, explained the problem of majorities, or, as he called it, “faction.” Madison wrote, “By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.”
This is why Madison and other Founding Fathers concluded that a democracy was not consistant the idea of free society that they sought for a new nation. Instead, as Madison wrote, “A republic, by which I mean a government in which the scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect, and promises the cure for which we are seeking.”
Madison went into great detail about the problem of faction in Federalist 10, which is worth a read, if you have a few moments. But one can read Madison’s missive and see clearly that the vision the he had for the United States is one that has been largely lost, especially in the last 80 years or so.
“The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” ~ The Constitution of the United States of America, Article VI, Clause 3
It is unequivocal fact that the Founding Fathers of our nation were deeply religious men. So important was religion in their view that the protection thereof was codified in the first line of the first amendment of the Bill of Rights, even before freedom of speech and of the press. From Washington to Adams to Madison and on, Christianity and the Judeo-Christian belief system was at the heart of the government which they formed. Even Jefferson, known as a Deist who shunned the organized religions of his day, wrote in an April 1803 letter to Benjamin Rush, “I am a Christian in the only sense in which He wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines in preference to all others.”
Strange indeed then that modern liberals live in abject terror of the possibility that any religious influence might accidentally (or more likely, through the nefarious workings of those dreaded, meddling Christians) seep into the philosophy or policies of our secular government.
Just like in 2008, the Club for Growth is putting together a series of white papers on candidates running for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination. We’ve already covered their reports on the records of Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty, Herman Cain, Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman. We missed the report on Michele Bachmann, but you can read that here.
Last week, the Club for Growth released the white paper on Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX),who fares well against President Barack Obama in a hypothetical matchup and is making Iowa and the Ames Straw poll priorities for his campaign.
The Club notes that Paul has received better than average ratings on their own scorecard, and they’ve gradually increased over the last five years. And while his record on spending is “impressive,” including votes against Medicare Part D, raising his own pay, TARP, the stimulus and other wasteful spending.
They also point out that Paul was once a stalwart in voting for amendments to strip wasteful earmarks out of spending bills; however, he has changed his tune recently: