Constitutionalism? What's That?

One of the most unnoticed events in international affairs has been the situation in Honduras. That’s probably understandable since most Americans don’t think about Honduras on a daily basis. How does it affect our lives?

I’ve mentioned the situation a couple of times, but there is one angle to it that I haven’t yet emphasized, one that shows just where we are as a nation in our practice of government. When the Honduran Supreme Court and its legislature ousted the president, Zelaya, they were not acting illegally. They were attempting to follow the rule of law in their country because he was trying to stay in the presidency by unconstitutional means. That’s no surprise—he’s a comrade of Chavez in Venezuela, who has done exactly that to keep his power.

Along comes the United States, and the Obama administration sides with Zelaya, punishing those who stayed true to the Honduran constitution.

And there is the crux of the problem. We have developed an approach to our Constitution that demeans the document. We don’t really care what it says or what limits it imposes on the federal government. If something “needs” to be done, we do it.

Obama didn’t start this march toward the undermining of the rule of law; it began with the progessive movement at the turn of the 20th century. Slowly, but most assuredly, we have “evolved” to the point where very few legislators, justices, or presidents even stop to think about whether they are allowed to do what they are doing.

They call it the “Living Constitution” because they are not bound by the rules set up by a bunch of upper-class white men from over 200 years ago. “Living Constitution” sounds great; it certainly has a better ring to it than “Dead Constitution.” Sometimes, if you win the war of words, you win the day.

Yet that dichotomy is false. The so-called “Living Constitution” overthrows all meaning for the concept of law. Now anything goes, and what we may see going next is the right of individuals to choose their own healthcare. That will be only the beginning if this administration gets its way.

We need to come back to the basic question: Where in the Constitution does it say the federal government has the authority to do that? Ask that question again and again with each new proposal. You may be surprised how few laws we pass are in line with constitutional authority.