Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Constitutionalist Commentary part 5

This is part five of a series I will be doing on why I identify myself as a Constitutionalist.  Though I started this series a while back, I find that I am still receiving as much, if not more, questions on why I chose the Constitution Party over the Republicans, and I cannot explain the answer in any more brief a way than this: The Constitution Party represents my views more closely than any other party.
However, for those who are looking for more information, read on. This fifth part will cover the section titled “Congressional Reform.” You can find it HERE. I recommend reading it, because I will refer to it regularly throughout this post.

As many of you know, I have been one who follows the happenings in DC with great interest.  I have blogged on much of it; ranted on about some of it; and generally made my opinions known.  Perhaps this section will explain better why I have responded to certain things in the way I have.

"With the advent of the 17th amendment, a vital check on Congress was removed. Since then, Congress has usurped power relatively unchecked, where today, very few members of Congress make it through a single session, without violating their oath of office to the Constitution."  So this section begins, and so too will I.
In case you are unfamiliar with the 17th Amendment, allow me to recap.  This is the amendment which made the election of the U.S. Senator a popular vote, rather than one by state legislators.  It is also the one that dictated that the filling of a vacated Senate seat would fall to the Governor of that state, and that his appointee would remain until elections.  You can read the text of the amendment HERE.

In defense of those who enacted the 17th, let me just say they were attempting to go about doing a good thing. They wanted to prevent Senate seats from being bought and sold, and prevent deadlocks with state legislators bickering over who ought to go.  I applaud them for their foresight.  Unfortunately, the cure was more damaging than the sickness.
You see, in more than a century of elections, there had only been ten allegations of corrupted elections.  Ten- you can do the math yourself to find out the percentage!  Aside from that, while deadlocks did occur, they were rare... And mainly happened within newly admitted states.  According to Todd Zywicki, Utah deadlocked only twice, (1897, 1899)- And never once deadlocked again.  Nevertheless, as times changed, it was apparently believed that deadlocks and corruption would quickly overtake the current method of doing things; So, William Jennings Bryan, among others, saw to the inception and passing of the seventeenth amendment.

The problem is that now there is far more corruption than there ever was at that time.  To make matters worse, while then there was only a few allegations, today we have legal cases closed on the matter of political corruption; newspapers are making a living off of the stories of political corruption; and all over, people are paying dearly for the mistakes made by legislators on May 31, 1913.  There are very few things today which cannot be traced back to the passing of the 17th.
Before popular election, US Senators were elected by the majority of state legislators.  This prevented such things as special interest groups, lobbyists, etc.,  from being the only ones the Senators looked to for direction.  Make no mistake- When it is not an election year in this day and age, post-17th, very few Senators are truly worried about their constituents.  Pre-17th, however, Senators were forced to listen to the desires of the people they represented- Or they'd not be reelected.

We seek to abolish Congressional pensions.
 Yes, I understand that it is a sacrifice to serve in congressional or senatorial capacity.  Yes, I understand that it would be a far greater sacrifice should pensions be done away with.  And yes- I am completely all right with that, even if I were serving.
The concept of service is exactly that: SERVICE.  One is not to go to D.C., become a member of the millionaires club, and return seeking reelection; yet that is exactly what is happening time and time again.  Pensions are only a portion of the issue.  The fact that Congress has a separate healthcare network, for instance, among many other things, points to exactly how cut off the U.S. Congress is from the citizenry of the nation.  Remove one of the ways dishonest people can get rich off of their dishonesty, and perhaps we will see stock in truth rise.

Congress must once again be accountable to the people and obedient to the Constitution, repealing all laws that delegate legislative powers to regulatory agencies, bureaucracies, private organizations, the Federal Reserve Board, international agencies, the President, and the judiciary.
 I understand the reasons certain boards and agencies were formed: The EPA and NEA, for instance.  However, the reasons do not make the choice made the right one.  Reasons are merely thoughts upon a subject which one is to take into consideration; instead, our legislators have parlayed their "reasons" into justifications and excuses.  One of the most ironic statements I've ever heard came from a Massachusetts Senator who shall remain nameless.  To paraphrase, he stated that there was simply "too much for the Federal Government to handle alone."
Folks, that is exactly the point- There is too much, because the Fed was never supposed to have this much power.

We support legislation to prohibit the attachment of unrelated riders to bills. Any amendments must fit within the scope and object of the original bill.
I cannot tell you how much I agree with this portion.  Riders have become the bane of our national existence,  and one of the "greatest achievements" in Obama's presidency exemplifies this to the nth degree: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as "Obamacare."  The final version of this bill was nearly 1,000 pages long- At one time, it was over 1,500 pages.  Of the final page count, a solid third was rider material.
Another example was the Omnibus Appropriations Act 2009, with over $8 million dollars of earmarks, and signed into law by our President without batting an eye.
Or perhaps you remember the Illicit Drug Anti-Proliferation Act?  If you don't, you shouldn't feel bad.  Then Senator Joseph Biden attached it as a rider to the bill that created the AMBER alert system- It was drawing too much heat on its own.
Then, there is the REAL ID Act.  That was attached to a military budget and necessarily signed into law by President Bush- I say "necessarily," because Congress had taken longer than it should have to approve the budget.  Vetoing the budget would have lost some rather necessary funds.
Heard of the Lautenberg Amendment?  It was a rider that banned the sales of guns to anyone with even a single misdemeanor domestic violence conviction.  I'm all for promoting safety, but this rider, which is now law, provides for an invasion of privacy which can be compared only to the Patriot Act.

These examples, among many, serve as more than enough evidence for the secession of unrelated riders, if not the restriction of all forms.

We support legislation to require that the Congressional Record contain an accurate record of proceedings. 
Let's be honest: How transparent is a government that doesn't keep complete records, let alone make them public?!  Right now, Congress is not required to keep records of everything said during sessions.  Why?  With certain considerations, everything ought to be public record, and accurate to the letter.

Stay tuned for the next installment of Constitutionalist Commentary: Part 6, Conscription.  Oh, yeah- You can only imagine!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Constitutionalist Commentary part 4

This is part four of a series I will be doing on why I identify myself as a Constitutionalist.  Though I started this series a while back, I find that I am still receiving as much, if not more, questions on why I chose the Constitution Party over the Republicans, and I cannot explain the answer in any more brief a way than this: The Constitution Party represents my views more closely than any other party.
However, for those who are looking for more information, read on. This fourth part will cover the section titled “Character and Moral Conduct.” You can find it HERE. I recommend reading it, because I will refer to it regularly throughout this post.

This remains one of the most important aspects of the Constitutionalist Party, in my honest opinion.

When our country first began, our first President, George Washington, in his first inaugural address from New York on April 30, 1789, stated thusly:

...we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained...
Our second president, John Adams, had this to say:
With full confidence in the continuance of that candor and generous indulgence from my fellow-citizens at large which I have heretofore experienced, and with a firm reliance on the protection of Almighty God, I shall forthwith commence the duties of the high trust to which you have called me.
Franklin Pierce, President number fourteen, stated that we should:
...let not the foundation of our hope rest upon man's wisdom. It will not be sufficient that sectional prejudices find no place in the public deliberations. It will not be sufficient that the rash counsels of human passion are rejected. It must be felt that there is no national security but in the nation's humble, acknowledged dependence upon God and His overruling providence. 
James Buchanan, the fifteenth President of the United States, took office with this plea:
In entering upon this great office, I must humbly invoke the God of our fathers for wisdom and firmness to execute its high and responsible duties in such a manner as to restore harmony and ancient friendship among the people of the several States, and to preserve our free institutions throughout many generations. 
On March fourth, 1857, Abraham Lincoln, facing threats of succession and rumors of war, stated this in his first inaugural address:

Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him who has never yet forsaken this favored land are still competent to adjust in the best way all our present difficulty.
Later, Ulysses S Grant closed his inaugural address with these words:
In conclusion I ask patient forbearance one toward another throughout the land, and a determined effort on the part of every citizen to do his share toward cementing a happy union; and I ask the prayers of the nation to Almighty God in behalf of this consummation. 

Let us now move into the 1900's, and the indomitable Calvin Coolidge, who said this of the United States in 1925:
America seeks no earthly empire built on blood and force. No ambition, no temptation, lures her to thought of foreign dominions. The legions which she sends forth are armed, not with the sword, but with the cross. The higher state to which she seeks the allegiance of all mankind is not of human, but of divine origin. She cherishes no purpose save to merit the favor of Almighty God. 
In 1945, Harry S Truman made several observations from his place on the inaugural stage.  These are among them:
The American people stand firm in the faith which has inspired this Nation from the beginning. We believe that all men have a right to equal justice under law and equal opportunity to share in the common good. We believe that all men have the right to freedom of thought and expression. We believe that all men are created equal because they are created in the image of God.
...People everywhere are coming to realize that what is involved is material well-being, human dignity, and the right to believe in and worship God.

Why am I quoting from inaugural addresses?  Why am I pointing solely at the references to God, as opposed to something else?  Because somewhere along the line, the pleas to God as the Higher Authority became nothing more than lip service; token phrases using a token word to elicit a reaction from the people of the United States.  For instance:

And so, my fellow Americans, at the edge of the 21st century, let us begin with energy and hope, with faith and discipline, and let us work until our work is done. The scripture says, "And let us not be weary in well-doing, for in due season, we shall reap, if we faint not."
  From this joyful mountaintop of celebration, we hear a call to service in the valley. We have heard the trumpets. We have changed the guard. And now, each in our way, and with God's help, we must answer the call.
  Thank you and God bless you all.
That was former president William Jefferson Clinton, who spoke of discipline, and showed none; who spoke of sacrifice, but made none where it counted; and who quoted Scripture, yet violated it in practice.  Lip service, ladies and gentlemen.  Nothing more.  In his second address, he said:
May God strengthen our hands for the good work ahead—and always, always bless our America.
Notice that there is no supplication.  There is no recognition of Higher Authority.  There is only a demand, thinly veiled as a spoken hope.  Lip service once more paid to the God of Creation, who saw fit to bring this nation into being against great odds and in the face of even greater numbers.

George W Bush, in his first address, did not mention God except to say that abuse was not His work.  He did not forget, however, to say:
God bless you all, and God bless America.
 In his second address, when at war, he quoted Abraham Lincoln; told us that God chooses as He wills; and finished off with:
May God bless you, and may He watch over the United States of America.
Lip service.  Though I tremble to cast doubt upon the relationship any of these men truly had/have with the Almighty, I have no compunction whatsoever in casting doubt upon their genuine belief in the words they spoke.  Their lives and time in office countermanded the words they spoke.  Clinton, with his dereliction of duty, both as a husband, a father and a President; and Bush, as a guardian of the Constitution, and the preservation of civil liberties.

And now we arrive to the present administration.  President Barack Obama, who stated:
We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.
A man who also said:
 This is the source of our confidence—the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.
 Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.
This man, our current President, had not the wherewithal to quote Scripture properly; nor had he the thought to check his attribution to the Declaration of Independence.  Whose actions since these words have done precious little to ensure the freedom of all, and who had the audacity to become the first President in history to twist the words of Scripture to his suiting.
God calls no man to shape their destiny- It is written "One can cast lots into one’s lap, but the decision comes from Adonai"; and "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you; before you were born, I separated you for myself. I have appointed you to be a prophet to the nations"; and again, "I announced things that happened at the beginning, long ago; they issued from my mouth, I proclaimed them. Then suddenly I acted, and they occurred." God shapes the destiny of mankind- and it is man who disobeys, and falls into hardship; or obeys, and walks in blessings.

This brings me to the phrase I have come to revile:
God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.
In order for this country to be blessed of God; in order to see the financial prosperity we once saw; the relative peace we once knew; and the moral and ethical standard we once had; we must obey His plans, purposes and designs.  In plain English, we must obey God, period.

 As is written in this section of the Constitution Party Platform, good character is something shown and evident in private life as well as public.  It is not something paid lip service to and then discarded, only to be picked back up for election year.  It is an absolute must for any person wishing office, because the character of a person affects their public persona, their actions, their decision making- Literally everything that is required to be in public office.

If any of you are uncomfortable with my use of Scripture, then let me attempt to put the importance of good character in secular terms.  Aristotle stated:

What the statesman is most anxious to produce is a certain moral character in his fellow citizens, namely a disposition to virtue and the performance of virtuous actions.
Ralph Waldo Emerson asserted that:
No change of circumstances can repair a defect of character. 
John Wooden remarked:
Winning takes talent, to repeat takes character. 
Napoleon Hill made the observation that:

Persistence is to the character of man as carbon is to steel.

Finally, Stephan Ambrose writes:

Washington's character was rock solid. He came to stand for the new nation and its republican virtues, which was why he became our first President by unanimous choice.

Character, and the moral conduct that shapes it, matters.  It only takes a brief glimpse back, even over the last four years, to see where character that is poor, lacking, deficient or corrupted will lead this country.  For this reason, I support this clause wholeheartedly, and affirm again- Character matters.

The next section will be on Congressional Reform, and as you may imagine, there is a great deal to say about such a topic.  I hope to see you all there.