Carl Sandburg once wrote “A nation that forgets where it came from soon forgets where it is going”. Like and share if you agree! I mean, that’s where we are isn’t it? No one who reads this will disagree with Sandburg, and we all know that we have lost our way, but we are limited to watered down ways of expressing our frustration, like memes. Kind of like the big yellow smiley face that was in our face during Vietnam. Don’t worry, be happy!
What I’m going to write about is the stress which this causes to grow in us as individuals, and as a society; but first, where we came from. To cut things short, the founding fathers made it painfully clear that the authority to govern is conferred by those whom it governs. Every nation which has failed to follow this example has, well, failed. But the founding fathers, having written a perfect document in the constitution could not protect us from subsequent stupidity and corruption. Buttressing the Declaration of Independence, and providing the perfect segue into the constitution the preamble states that “we the people of the United States in order too to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense,promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity do ordain and establish this constitution of the United States of America. Snowflakes? Hardly. This cannot possibly be misunderstood. This is where we came from!
Using this as a reference point for our future, it’s crystal clear that we have lost our way to a future that might be rationally charted from that point. Now, let me make something perfectly clear: it ain’t politics as we lowercase citizens think of politics. It’s politics the way that the uppercase players think of it. Long term. Not four years, or eight years, but 20 years at the least, which is the average term of a Supreme Court justice, and usually much, much longer due to customs such as stare decisis (google it guys, I’ve got a word limit here). So let’s just visit a few cases where the supreme Ugga Bugga (sorry, just trying to convey some contempt of court here) decided that the preamble was kind of like that last couple of squares of toilet paper we never bother peeling off to use. It’s there, but what the hell, let’s throw it away. As late as 1946 the court quoted the majority justice in Holmes v Jennison when justifying their decision against the state of California for levying an illegal sales tax against Richfield oil corporation, and I quote the court: “ All words in the constitution are meaningful. Every word appears to have been weighed with the utmost deliberation, and its force and effect have been understood. No word in the instrument can be rejected as superfluous, or unmeaningful”. Boo Ya! Now, I don’t know what you, dear reader, believe, but I for one think that we, as a nation had our heads screwed on pretty tight. So, to be clear, in 1946 we remembered where we came from, and thus presumably knew where we were going. But wait! What about 1904 when the court tried Jacobson v Mass? This case essentially upheld the power of the federal government’s right to compulsory vaccination of citizens. The view of the decision was that sometimes the rights of the individual must be infringed upon for the common good. As a liberal, I’m okay with that, liberty does not mean that we may act in a completely unrestrained fashion, but it clearly represents the verge of the slipperiest of slopes. The judicial review further decided that this made citizens subject to the police power of the state. No real surprise to 21st century Americans right? I mean, have you read the Patriot Act? Still walking the tightrope, the court then stated that “the Preamble indicates the general purpose for which the people ordained and established the Constitution”,and then that “the Preamble has never been regarded as the source of any substantive power conferred upon the government of the United States, or on any of its departments”. Oops.
The court goes on to say “such powers embrace only those expressly granted by the body of the constitution and such as may be implied from those granted”. Oops again! They just offhandedly gave the Constitution a circumcision! Put plainly, the court said yes, the Constitution has a Preamble, but it’s like the forward to a book, you don’t have to read it, and it doesn’t count. I believe anyone who knows the history of this country would agree that there was a feeling that we had lost our way, and that where we were going at that time.
This plainly dangerous doctrine came home to roost in 1972 with Roe v Wade. When confronted by an issue that most definitely concerns the state’s interest in “posterity” and how that aspect of the preamble overrides the personal rights of women, the court again decided to divorce itself from the Preamble, as being separate from the “main body” of the Constitution, and in a decision which basically admitted that the myriad complexity of the case made it impossible to decide on constitutional grounds, once again decided its outcome along purely pragmatic lines, pretty much the same way that they did in Jacobson v Massachusetts. Now let us proceed to what is ailing all of us.
As we see, lots of folks cannot talk about politics, or the direction of our nation coherently anymore. That is due to ideological stress which goes unrelieved day after miserable day. That condition is often referred to as frustration. Studies conducted by the U.S. army throughout the 1960’s generally concluded that frustration leads inexorably to aggression. Aggression leads to social alienation. We know that we are supposed to be the source of legitimate power in this country, and yet our government has acted against the interests of the overwhelming majority of its citizens for the last 30 years in lockstep. Why? Because liberals are all powerful and rampant? Is it the vast right wing conspiracy? Well, maybe, if our story begins with “once upon a time”. The answer is yet another Supreme Court case, Citizens United. You see, the Supreme Court justices wield great power, and the consequences of their actions determine our future. For one thing, our present Chief Justice John Roberts invited David Bossie, the chairman of the 501c organization known as Citizens United to bring the case before the court. Now, I’m no constitutional scholar, but I do know a nickel from a dime, so I’m pretty sure that’s social engineering, especially when the folks over at Breitbart broke out the champagne on that day, ahead of its being scheduled on the docket. Now, I’m not going to go into detail about that case, because it reads like “The reason it was ok for three bears to murder a little girl”. What I will say, is that the majority ruling in that case went far beyond those cases which divorced the Preamble from the “main body” of the constitution, and openly robbed We The People of our right to confer legitimacy upon our governing authority, and hand delivered it to David, Allen, and Bill Koch, and the 17 richest families in America, thus making your wishes or opinions irrelevant, save on Facebook perhaps. By conferring personhood onto corporations, and then giving them the right to bestow unlimited funds onto the political candidates of their choice, the court redacted parts of the constitution. Period.
Now, I do have an answer for this. All is not lost, because the main body of the Constitution does include several means by which We the people may rescue ourselves from the disasters that the founding fathers surely knew we would create, and if you want to know what that answer is, you will have to read the op-ed on Clevenger and Witt.Bill the Butcher