Full Steam Ahead!

Full steam ahead! That’s the word from Democrats on healthcare. And the pressure is on. Three more Democrats in the House have now decided to vote for the bill. One is Dennis Kucinich, who is more than a little flakey anyway. He didn’t vote for it the first time because it was too “conservative.”

It’s the other two that bring a feeling of disgust: two House members who said they were prolife have now decided the language of the bill (has anyone really seen it yet?) is fine with them. How many principled Democrats on the abortion issue does that leave? What were they promised? Why did they decide to hold their nose with respect to all the garbage in this phantom bill?

This do-or-die approach could have dire consequences for the party.

If that’s what they want for their future, it’s fine with me. The problem is that everyone else will have to suffer as a result of what they’ve done. In the face of principled, reasoned opposition, Obama continues to say critics are spreading misinformation. That’s a baseless accusation. The information is solid and true. But his attitude is unchanged.

Probably what galls me the most are the protestations of innocence emanating from the president. If you look carefully (and it’s not really all that hidden), you can see what’s actually transpiring.

The hypocrisy is so blatant, there’s no need to “expose” it. It’s plain for all to see.

Obamacare Coming to a Head?

The word today is that this is THE week. Obamacare, according to Obama, will pass the Congress this time. Well, it might. It all depends on how many Blue Dog Democrats and those who say they oppose abortion cave under the pressure.

Meanwhile, polls continue to show a large majority of Americans oppose this bill (if indeed a bill exists—that’s still a matter of debate). Yet Obama disregards the opposition. Why?

He interprets his 2008 election victory as a mandate to do whatever he wants. Never mind that many of those who voted for him now have buyer’s remorse. Further, he is asking his own party to go with him on this path, regardless of the consequences to Democrats in the upcoming congressional elections.

Is this megalomania? Is it the supreme example of arrogance? Does he really want to go over this precipice? It would appear so.

In the midst of all this, I find it encouraging that my old home state of Virginia has taken a stand, saying that it will not accept the imposition of healthcare on the state, since that is not a power given to the federal government in the Constitution.

If Obamacare does pass, this sets up a terrific court case. Can a state, relying on the original intent of the Constitution, reverse the advances of a federal government out of control? It may depend on the court in which the case is heard. It would probably go all the way to the Supreme Court where there’s an opportunity to declare Obamacare unconstitutional.

Yet I’m praying it won’t go that far. I’m hoping it will be stopped dead in its tracks again this week—for the sake of the future of this nation.

Honoring the Government

Let me clarify something today. I can almost hear some readers of this blog thinking, “He criticizes the president and Congress so much that he can’t really have any respect for the government.”

The opposite is true.

I have the highest regard for the federal government. This comes from a reading of the Constitution, the debates over its ratification, and the character of many of those who helped bring it to pass. I believe the form of government set up by our Constitution is the best the world has seen, yet I also believe that it can work the way it’s supposed to work only if we maintain our Biblical principles.

Congress, in theory, is a wonderful institution. Initially, it allowed direct representation for the people and direct representation for all state governments. This provided balance and set up a federal system. When we changed how senators were elected, state governments lost all representation. That was a blow to the federalism essential for the Congress to function the way it was intended.

Further, as I stated in my last post, when individuals in Congress are allowed to set up their fiefdoms over which they rule imperiously, we have lost the character necessary for it to represent the people.

As for the presidency, the Constitution did not set up an all-powerful executive. It did give the president strong powers in certain areas, such as making him the commander in chief of the armed forces, but the president was not to be a monarch.

George Washington, I believe, had the proper attitude toward the office. He accepted it as a sacred trust, a responsibility thrust upon him by a people who had confidence in his leadership. Given a choice, he never would have taken the job; he would have preferred to stay at home and oversee his farms. Yet his country needed him to set the right precedents for the office.

As I tell my students, what we need today are people who don’t need to be president to have fulfilled lives. Far too many of those who aspire to the office see it as the apex of their existence. Many have been running for it [in their minds, at least] since they were teenagers. How many do so because they have the same attitude Washington had? How many do so because they simply want the authority that the office bestows? The latter are not the ones I want to entrust with that authority.

I know not everyone will agree with me that Abraham Lincoln also possessed Washington’s outlook. Yes, he was a politician who wanted the job. However, a closer look at his motives reveals a strong desire to use that office for good constitutionally. He had dropped out of politics until Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854. That act, which opened a new area to slavery, incited Lincoln to reenter the fray.

As president, he bore a heavy burden. Those with Southern sympathies believe he was a tyrant. I must respectfully disagree. Although under tremendous pressure to change the nature of the country forever, he did no such thing. He merely took his job as commander in chief seriously as he tried to bring rebellious states under control. In the process, slavery disappeared. I used to be one of those who disliked Lincoln. Further study changed my mind.

We have had presidents since Lincoln who did their best to keep the nation operating constitutionally. Chief among those were Grover Cleveland, Calvin Coolidge, and Ronald Reagan. Others had strong impulses for changing the government in a way that would destroy the original intent of the Founders: Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama have been the most prominent.

Why do I critique the current Congress and President Obama so much? It’s because I have a deep respect for the original intent of this government. It’s because I have a heartfelt desire to see us maintain our Biblical principles and build upon them.

When one sees the foundations of a once-great nation crumbling, one has a responsibility to speak up. To do otherwise would be to share in the blame when it finally is destroyed.

The Kingdom of Congress

Let’s pause briefly for a recalibration of our thinking.

We spend a lot of time contemplating what Congress is doing—new pieces of legislation, the strategies for passing them, etc.

An Old Document that No One Reads Anymore

Stop and remember something: Congress was originally set up with very limited powers. The United States Constitution did not erect a tribunal that could legislate on any matter it deemed fit.

In Article One, Section 4, we find the following wording: “The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year.” Why was that even inserted? The easy answer is this: Congress had such limited authority for legislation that it might not need to meet every year; this phrase was included to ensure that the people (in the House) and the state governments (in the Senate) would have input into the federal government, keeping it from becoming primarily an executive branch.

The concern was that Congress could be preempted.

During the ratification debates on the proposed Constitution, some opponents objected to what they perceived would be too powerful a federal government. James Madison, writing in what we now call Federalist #45, responded to those objections in these words:

The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. 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.

In other words, this Constitution did not set up a government that could legislate on all matters; it was limited in its scope.

Yet what do we see now? We don’t have to worry about making sure that Congress meets once every year. The struggle now is to make them go home once in a while. Congress has taken upon itself (with a generous nod from the federal judiciary) authority it doesn’t possess. It now tries to legislate on everything.

Healthcare is the most prominent issue at present. If you were to seek the place in the Constitution where it says Congress has power to legislate on this matter, you would come away empty.

Another problem that has arisen with our new imperial Congress is that individuals have become mini-dictators. Committee chairs set up kingdoms. The role of Speaker of the House carries with it virtually unlimited authority with respect to how that body functions.

The imperiousness has risen to unprecedented levels.

Those statements are not fabricated. Speaker Pelosi actually uttered those very words.

There is an old saying/joke that takes on greater meaning with each passing year: Congress has adjourned, the Republic is safe.

It’s time to once again be governed by the rule of law; it’s time to return to constitutional limitations.