“Do not separate text from historical background. If you do, you will have perverted and subverted the Constitution, which can only end in a distorted, bastardized form of illegitimate government.”–James Madison
Indeed that is exactly what we have seen in this country is a distorted, bastardized form of illegitimate government. Because of the use of such arbitrary interpretation and therefore application, I think we should not be surprised when someone like Bush overtly trespasses against the Constitution. The Constitution's standing in this country has been neutralized by a variety of political philosophies, the least of these are those who advocate original intent based upon a Christianized view of the founding of this country. Others have simply sought to render it so flexible that it no longer retains the viability of protection that they claim to support. These factions fail to see the meanings behind the principles, those both philosophical and practical. The principles, upon which the Constitution was structured, in a real sense, are neither totally static nor dynamic, but both and are essential to good government and to the pursuit of happiness by the people.
This country has not seen such a critical a time in our political concerns as we now face and it is primarily due to the fact that we have allowed various political ideologies to arbitrarily interpret the Constitution to fit their particular ideological points of view. Today, our country not only stands before a period of extremes, but dangerous extremes that could, with ease, erase what we have always considered as particularly and essentially the American guarantee of the individual's claim to Liberty. Instead of a country filled with free people, who assert their dignity through Liberty, we have become subjected to the will of a government that sets its own parameters of its reach and authority through the arbitrary interpretation and application of law. Principles are no longer considered inviolate, but are subject to the political whims of the day, whether those whims are Liberal, Conservative, Neo-Conservative or any other political ideology. Today we happen to be witness to the “living Constitution” as the Neo-Conservatives view it; tomorrow we might be witness to another group and their interpretation. Therein is the danger of such an arbitrary interpretation.
When any political ideology or philosophy extends an arbitrary utility over a Constitutional principle, it does so at its own peril. I say that because, as we see with the Bush Administration, it is then easy for any group to take liberties with those principles and thus affect one or more sections of an opposing party or interest. Once the door is open to accept and approve the arbitrary interpretation and application of the Constitution, and then it becomes much easier for abuse to ensue. If the principles found within the Constitution are not foundational to both government and the People, then those principles will always be usurped, abused or denied. When the principles of the Constitution are no longer viewed as essential and therefore open to any interpretation, then they provide no protection from potential abuse by those of any political agenda.
One amazing fact is that the various political ideologies always seem to support some degree of Constitutional stretch when it follows their own particular political agenda, but when an opposing agenda stretches beyond the bounds of the Constitution there is an uproar and condemnation. It was easy for the Republicans; for instance, to condemn the Clinton Administration over its Constitutional abuses but not its own abuses now that Bush is in office. Likewise, the cry from the Democrats is equally as adamant when a Republican abuses those powers and reaches beyond the Constitution in one way or another when those breaches are contrary to their own agenda. The government seeks the ease of power and yet the Constitution was created to make it cumbersome to govern, thereby removing the potential for both consolidation of powers and the abuse of such powers. Checks and balances are extremely cumbersome, viewed as outdated and inapplicable in our day and age, is it any wonder that the view of foundational and inviolate principles is looked upon with such disdain? It is symptomatic of all centralized governments to seek power for it eases its ability to rule, a fact that history bears out to be true.
When we allow a very relative interpretation and application of Constitutional principles to prevail then not only will power seek the level of its own expression, but, in every case, the People will end up being the ones to eventually suffer the consequences of such relativity. Government bureaucrat's prize relativity, for it removes restraints regarding the application of government statute over the principles designed to constrain such powers.
This government cannot do anything unless we cede it the power to do so, that includes the abridgement of our Rights. The Bush Administration is only following a path that was already well beaten when it came to power. Granted, it has extended its power beyond anything seen since the Wilson Administration, but never the less, it is far from being an action beyond precedent.
Political decentralization, a key structure found within the Constitution, is interwoven with the ideals of Individual Liberty. While it is the responsibility of the individual to place demands upon government for the appropriate execution of the Rights that foster such Liberty, it is not without precedent for any government, limited or not, to usurp and consolidate power to the bereft of the individual. Today we are witness to a vast number of powerful interests, both social and economic, manipulating government to the benefit of their particular agendas, all done, of course, under the carefully crafted guise of democratic freedom. People have always clamored over the promises of politics rather than the reality of politics and politicians are all too eager to oblige such inclinations of the People thus gaining their allegiance and support. The political reality of the day however, is far too disturbing to be spoken by the majority of politicians today; it is simply not palatable to the electorate.
Currently we are asked to “voluntarily” relinquish a great many of our Rights, in one degree or another, for the sake of security. It is not the first time the government has made such requests, doubtless it will not be the last, but we must remember what we do when we allow such license to government. When extra-Constitutional license is ceded to government, the government will always willingly accept for it is in the nature of government to govern more by force than by consent.
It is easy to see that the decline of Classical Liberalism in our society is mirrored by an increased power and centralization of The State as it takes advantage of the decline of citizen action and influence. The philosophy of Classical Liberalism that once prevailed in this country has been silent for far too long and thankfully it is experiencing a revival of sorts, partly out of necessity and partly out of the utter disgust with the quandary that passes as government in this country.
Until the People openly oppose all attempts to evade Constitutional Order then we will all continue to be in jeopardy from those who have shown no qualms at its usurpation at the expense of the People. Unless we oppose all efforts to abridge our Rights and Liberties by any government, political party or ideology then we will continue down the road where our Rights are totally contingent upon the winds of political expediency. If the People take those vital principles for granted or if we continue to excuse them as outdated or ineffectual for our time, even though they were specifically designed to protect all of us, then why should we be surprised when the government takes advantage of our own complacency as we readily cede such power and grant such license to those are only too willing to accept a power with far less restraint then is ordered by the Constitution.Tweet
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