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“The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution …”
~Article V, United States Constitution.
By Mr. Curmudgeon:
The cry uttered by many a small-government advocate is, “Take our country back!” And so, they work tirelessly to elect small-government representatives to Congress. The assumption, especially among members of the Tea Party, is that these representatives can reform authoritarian Washington from within.
In 2010, the Tea Party handed President Obama and Nancy Pelosi a resounding defeat by electing more than eighty small-government representatives to the House – a political turnover not seen in eighty years. However, in the intervening years we have seen an explosive growth in government power.
It’s not reasonable to believe those in Washington will diminish their extensive power. Consider how the phantom twinge of testosterone animates the eunuch John Boehner when the House Tea Party contingent threatens his meager influence as Speaker.
Small-government advocates make the mistake of thinking that by taking Washington they take the country. Washington is not America – it’s a reclaimed swamp comprised of 68.3 square miles of overreaching conceit. Forget Washington – take back the United States Constitution.
I have written on this subject before, but it bears repeating. In the more than two hundred year history of our nation, the constitutional provision allowing two-thirds of our state legislatures to call a Constitutional Convention has never been invoked. A remarkable oversight on the part of those who advocate on behalf of “states rights.”
The states, many Americans forget, are the reason Washington exists.
The Federalist Papers were arguments in favor of ratifying the Constitution to create a national government that would represent the collective interests of the states – such as regulating free trade between them, negotiating treaties with foreign powers and to weigh the issue of war. The hard sell for Publius – the nom de plume of the document’s various authors – was to calm fears the national government would usurp state power. Limited (enumerated) powers, the authors insisted, would prevent Washington from ever attaining such authoritarian control.
“The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined,” argued James Madison in Federalist 45, “Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite … The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.”
On the other hand, New York’s Robert Yates was not so trusting. Expressing the Anti-Federalist position under the pen name Brutus, Yates wrote, “If the constitution, offered to your acceptance, be a wise one, calculated to preserve the invaluable blessings of liberty, to secure the inestimable rights of mankind, and promote human happiness, then, if you accept it, you will lay a lasting foundation of happiness for millions yet unborn; generations to come will rise up and call you blessed … But if, on the other hand, this form of government contains principles that will lead to the subversion of liberty — if it tends to establish a despotism, or, what is worse, a tyrannic aristocracy; then, if you adopt it, this only remaining asylum for liberty will be shut up, and posterity will execrate your memory.”
The supreme irony to all this is that Yates and his fellow Anti-Federalists agreed to support the ratification of the Constitution provided amendments to the document prohibited the new national government from infringing on certain, unalienable rights. The three most notable being the right to free speech, the right to worship God unmolested by the state, and the right to bear arms.
ObamaCare now infringes on religious values, with the Department of Health and Human Services sweeping aside sacred standards thwarting the interests of promiscuous college coeds in search of free contraception. The author of the medical monstrosity that bears his name is equally determined to sweep aside the instruments of self-defense and the fulcrum against entrenched, tyrannical government – arms.
So far, the monster has failed to attack the First Amendment free speech of the press, since most of it parrots the political talking points of the monster. But he may make an exception when the broadcast license for Fox News comes up for renewal.
Both Madison and Yates believed the law could restrain the tyrannical, killer instincts arising in those with power. They failed to understand that the law’s limits are easily undermined when the powerful change the meaning of words – what one Supreme Court justice called “penumbras and emanations.” This deconstruction of language allowed the nation’s high court to discover a constitutional protection of abortion, and that Congress had the power to violate religious conscience in the name of universal health care, and the authority to infringe upon “the right of the people to keep and bear arms.”
In its landmark 1801 ruling in Marbury vs. Madison, the high court claimed for itself a monopoly on the interpretation of the Constitution. Thomas Jefferson was appalled by the court’s power grab, writing, “The Constitution, on this hypothesis, is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary, which they may twist and shape into any form they may please. It should be remembered, as an axiom of eternal truth in politics, that whatever power in any government is independent, is absolute also; in theory only, at first, while the spirit of the people is up, but in practice, as fast as that relaxes. Independence can be trusted nowhere but with the people in mass. They are inherently independent of all but moral law …”
34 state legislatures have the moral authority to take the “thing of wax” from the hands of the high court and carve it upon tangible stone tablets. That will happen when an “inherently independent” and free people demand it.
The Tea Party’s greatest strength has been at the state level. Instead of changing Washington, its interests are better served changing state legislatures. Instead of requiring candidates for state office to sign anti-tax pledges, Tea Party support should be predicated on their signing pledges calling for a Constitutional Convention.
Allow me to give one example: A Constitutional Amendment that declares states may individually nullify the imposition of congressional laws through state legislation (think ObamaCare). Furthermore, should two-thirds of the states do likewise; the national law is declared unconstitutional in its entirety. This preserves the integrity of republican government and ends the tyrannical stranglehold of Washington and the Supreme Court.
Here is the order of things: By taking back your state, you may take back your Constitution … and then your country.