Does America still have a constitution?

By Charles Bloomer
web posted January 24, 2000

A review of news stories over the past several weeks could make one wonder if America still has a Constitution in place that means anything.

Consider the following examples:

  • The million-acre land grab in Arizona and California under the guise of declaring a “monument”. This is in addition to the previous land grab in Utah.
  • The Federal Communications Commission has determined that religious programs are not “educational” and therefore religious broadcasters are not eligible for “educational” television broadcast licenses.
  • Increasing attacks on legal gun ownership and the perversion of civil liability laws to sue gun manufacturers.
  • Affirmative action and other race-based programs.
  • Government censorship efforts aimed at the internet. “Voluntary” censorship of television scripts.
  • A push for campaign finance “reform” that is a clear violation of free speech.
  • The Census Bureau's invasion of privacy on census forms.
  • Increased regulatory attempts by agencies such as the EPA and OSHA.
  • Proposed “Hate Crimes” legislation
  • Federal meddling in education, health care and other areas that are more appropriately the concern of individual states.

This list is certainly not exhaustive. Reports can be found daily of actions that the federal government takes that are of questionable constitutionality.

What makes this observation even more interesting is that this is an election year. Other than Alan Keyes, none of the current crop of presidential candidates appears to appreciate that many of the proposals and promises they are making are not supported by the Constitution. Expansion of federal health care plans, education spending for more schools and smaller class sizes, gays in the military, federally subsidized day care – none of these proposals are supported by the Constitution.

Constitutional authority has taken a back seat to feel-good, emotionally based rhetoric. American voters are apparently ignorant of the Constitution and the limits it places on the federal government. We have confused the role of society with the role of government. Since the introduction of the New Deal, we have been conditioned to believe that government has the solutions to all of our problems. Consequently, we don't question candidates for federal office about the constitutionality of their proposals. We don't ask them how they intend to protect our rights while they offer more intrusive, nanny state programs.

We ignore these questions at our own peril. As we ignorantly look to government to solve our problems, we lose sight of the growing size of the federal behemoth and the immense power the government is amassing. We lose sight of the potential for abuse that comes with the power that we quietly, sheepishly surrender to the government bureaucracy. We lose sight of the tyranny inherent in a government that ignores the limitations set by the Constitution, a government that turns its citizens into subjects, a government that uses emotional demagoguery to intimidate the people.

How do we counter this insatiable power grab? First, we must educate ourselves. We need to study the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and other founding documents. (The Cato Institute publishes a handy, pocket-sized edition of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. Call the Cato Institute at 800-767-1241, noon-9pm ET. Copies are $1.00) Second, we need to hold each candidate's feet to the fire. Every proposal, every promise should be challenged. We should ask every candidate for any federal office to justify any proposal and show the constitutional authority for that proposal. Third, we should tell our candidates that we will not support any further expansion of federal power, and insist that the federal government reduce its involvement in activities outside its constitutional authority.

The U.S. Constitution is the most successful document of its kind in history. But for it to remain successful, Americans must actively insist that elected officials abide by the limitations it places on the government. We must never forget that government derives its “just Powers from the Consent of the Governed”.

“We the People” have only two options – freedom or slavery.

© 2000 Charles Bloomer. Mr. Bloomer can be reached at chuck.bloomer@comcast.net.

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