Party of Which People?

I’ve always found it somewhat comical that the Democratic party refers to itself as the party of the people. Historically, it has been the Democrats who have pushed the idea that the government, not individuals, knows best.

It started with Woodrow Wilson. He was devoted to the idea that the Constitution was a “living” document that politicians and judges could alter at will. During WWI, Wilson took almost complete control of the American economy, even to the point of nationalizing the railroads. He had little patience with anyone who disagreed with him, surrounding himself with “yes men” who would always do what he said. 

FDR, in the 1930s, had the golden opportunity to put progressive policies into action during the Great Depression. On the surface, they were carried out for the “common man,” but in reality, they stifled economic recovery, thereby hurting everyone, including all the “little people.”

LBJ, after the assassination of JFK, had a Congress that would do almost anything he asked. Again, in the name of the people, he embarked upon what he termed the “Great Society.” Its greatest accomplishment was the creation of a permanent dependent class. Of course, for some, that is the goal: if people depend on the government for their subsistence, they will continue to vote the party in power that promises to keep the goodies flowing.

FDR and JFK were independently wealthy. They never worked a day in their lives. Wilson was part of the intellectual elite, having served as president of Princeton. LBJ practically ran the state of Texas. All politics was subservient to him. These are hardly men who are part of any proletarian revolution. They were the privileged.

Nothing has changed. Democratic senators like Jay Rockefeller and Herb Kohl are the wealthiest of the wealthy. The media always connects the Republicans with Wall Street, but in fact, Wall Streeters donate more to the Democrats than Republicans.

Party of the people?

The Tea Party movement gains strength, and the so-called party of the people doesn’t know what to do with the people. As they sit in their seats of power, looking down on the rabble, what do they think?

In the space of a little more than 200 years, perceptions have changed tremendously.

If they are the party of the people, someone should ask just which people they mean.

Constitutional Renewal

In case you’re wondering, the document above should read “We the People.” How things can change. I agree with President Obama on one point: history was made this week. I disagree on the nature of that historic moment.

If this legislation is not dumped via either the new Congress after the elections or by the courts, we will see an increase in the government’s involvement in our lives—as if it weren’t intimately involved already. In order to enforce some of the mandates in the bill, such as requiring everyone to buy health insurance or face a penalty, there is a consensus that the IRS will have to be enlarged by about 16,000 new agents.

That, by itself, should cause a higher level of discomfort.

Is it a conspiracy theory to take the following cartoon seriously?

What’s next on the president’s agenda? It appears he’s going to make an all-out push now for amnesty for illegal aliens, thereby adding to the Democratic vote total in future elections. How far will this go?

I recall a photo that made the rounds shortly after the 2008 presidential election. At the time, I hoped it was not prophetic.

I’m still not ready to declare it a done deal. God remains God. People maintain their free will and can choose to repent. There can be a spiritual rebirth that will spark a renewal of constitutional government. It’s up to us to respond to our national woes God’s way—and see what He can do.

What To Do?

Yesterday, President Obama signed the healthcare bill. It was historic. So was Pearl Harbor.

I was asked yesterday if I could catalog all the ills associated with this bill. I really can’t do justice to all the provisions contained within. Instead I would ask those who are interested in all the details to find a site devoted to highlighting them. I’m one person, and my time is limited.

What I can do, though, is talk about the response from those of us who oppose what has happened. Are we to accept this and act as if everything is fine? No way. The key is to find the proper response.

I told someone the other day that the proverbial silver lining in all this is that for the first time in my lifetime, people are understanding the wisdom of the Constitution and the limits it put on governmental authority. To use a cliche that probably needs to be buried someday—this is a teachable moment.

Task #1, in my opinion, is to increase our efforts to educate the American people in constitutionalism. They may finally be open to learning. That is my specific calling, I know.

Those who are in government can add to this. What would it take to repeal this legislation? It would be very difficult, but who says we shouldn’t tackle difficult tasks? The greatest victories are those that appeared impossible at first.

Here’s how hard it will be: not only do opponents need to get the majority in Congress in the next election, but they need a sufficient majority, particularly in the Senate, to be filibuster-proof. Can it happen? Is it impossible to reach that magic 60? Improbable, but not impossible.

Then, even if that is attained, any bill that passes would have to get past Obama’s desk. He holds the veto power, and you can be sure he will use it to stop any attempt to roll back what he has done. Only a 2/3 majority can override the veto.

That’s the political equivalent of conquering Mt. Everest.

The other strategy is already being pursued. Here in Florida, as well as in other states, the attorney general is taking this bill to court. The grounds for challenging it are strong. There is no doubt it is unconstitutional. No authority exists in the Constitution for the federal government to flex its muscles in this way.

So what’s the problem?

The federal bench is filled with judges who have been schooled in case law, which depends on precedent rather than on original intent of the Constitution. And the longer Obama remains in office, the more of them there will be. The challenges need to come before judges who respect the rule of law and who will acknowledge the limited powers of the federal government. We need some providential help with that.

You can be sure whatever decisions are made in the lower courts will eventually end up in the Supreme Court. The sooner the better, before Obama has a chance to replace one of the conservative justices on the Court. Right now the Court is almost evenly divided between those who will judge righteously and those who will disregard the document they have sworn to uphold. Any decision will probably be 5-4, but the direction of that verdict is uncertain.

Things have changed significantly in the past 30 years.

It may take another thirty years to undo what has transpired during this current administration, but the goal is worthy.

I’m reminded of the Separatists in Holland debating whether they should go to the New World. They made a list of all the things that could go wrong and compared it with what could go right. In the end, the majority decided to undertake the voyage. I’m paraphrasing, but their historian, William Bradford, said they concluded that they should do it and expect the blessing of God on their endeavors. Even if they died trying, he commented, at least they were doing what was right in the sight of God.

We now call them the Pilgrims, and we admire their courage.

I’m glad they made that decision. Will we make a similar decision? Will a future generation look back on us and thank us for going forward? Will they call us courageous and be encouraged by us to handle whatever challenges they will face?

The next few years—not weeks or months—will reveal the depth of our commitment.

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.