Michael Medved, Just One Example Of Conservatism That Is Sincere...But Losing Without Constitutional Anchor

I’ve been very focused recently on how the standard of The US Constitution continues to slip away, that Republicans should unite in campaigning to restore it, and of the rocky future for The United States if even Republicans utterly abandon it. Relative to this, I am continually frustrated by talk-show host Michael Medved’s typical defaulting to political calculations above constitutional scrupulosity. This frustrates me not because Medved is a “squishy” conservative or a “RINO,” as some will reflexively brand and dismiss strategists like him. No it’s frustrating because I know his able apologetic for conservative policy in both his discussion and his writing. He’s a true conservative and a very thoughtful one. But he is culturally of the Republican stripe that strategizes to poke conservatism where possible into an expected overpowering popular flood from the left. And the result of this is some conservative swipes of the oar in a boat that overall is surely and inevitably leftward bound, slowed only by relative hiccups. Conservatives used to have no communications outlet and for many this “tactic” is baked into the cake. There are exceptions, but generally the older Republicans are, the more they are so inclined.

What these Republicans will say is that we cannot govern if we cannot win. Which of course is true. But at what point do you ask yourself, “Win what?” They say their objectives are the same, but they differ on tactics. I agree with that. I think their tactics are critically flawed. When you abandon constitutional principle in the political contest, what tether is there to resist the tide? It is the constraints, or “chains” as Jefferson put it, of The Constitution that launched The United States to the top of the world in productivity, prosperity and strength in a very short time. That was really a fait a complit 150 years after its founding; not even an hour of the day of recorded human history. But I think the truth we believe is not just another political opinion or sentiment, but has a power all its own. It merits speaking with positive disposition, clarity and confidence. And it merits pursuit with every tool at our disposal; like the Congressional power of the purse, for just one example.

On Friday, Medved had the writer of a book on his program; a Canadian who had become American. The Once and Future King: The Rise of Crown Government in America by F. H. Buckley. Buckley said he admired the American founders. But in our system, unlike a parliamentary democracy the executive cannot be summarily dispatched on a vote of no confidence in the legislative body. The executive is not as immediately accountable to the people through their elected representatives. Though we say otherwise and speak of three co-equal branches, our founders did rightly put the most power in the Congress, though that has been ever less respected. However the president is only directly accountable to the people once or twice (after FDR) for four years.. Otherwise he said, Obama would have been removed by now.

But I disagree that it is the people who have too limited power in our government. In the first place, why did our nation produce and prosper beyond other parliamentary nations? We were not superior human beings. Our unique freedom is why. But whydid we have unique freedom? Our uniqueness is in our Constitution. That Constitution gave freedom constrained by the guarantee of rights of life, liberty and property. Those were to be protected not only from encroachment whether by private or government forces, even if that government expressed the will of a popular majority. A tyranny of a majority was to be avoided as much as any other tyranny. The people were to be protected by The Constitution’s respect from federal imposition on life, liberty and property. But they were further protected by the retention of the sovereignty of states, which is implicit in The Constitution and its founding, but plainly and directly explicit in The Tenth Amendment.

But as in any democracy, the seduction of other people’s property and private prerogative was irresistible. It’s The Constitution we’ve let go of. And progressively, it’s the people who have been lured to let go of it. On the whole, they can no longer recognize it, or the treasure they’ve lost. In 1913, the lock was picked. Hordes didn’t burst through the doors, but the house has been methodically burglarized. In 1913, first The Sixteenth Amendment let the federal government into private property, allowing an income tax in setting aside the protection of private property and the proscription of a direct tax that was not apportioned among the states. Oh, it was only going to be a tiny one on the wealthiest people. But it wasn’t long tiny and didn’t remain on only the wealthiest. Of course, every resource extracted from the private realm is not spent on the private consumption or investment that expands opportunities for everyone.

Then also in 1913, the Seventeenth Amendment cut into the sovereignty of the states, taking the selection of US Senators from the state legislatures to a direct election of the people. This disempowered the states and empowered the popular circus. Progressively, Congress moved away from the protection of both states and individual rights, and moved toward giving people stuff; other people’s stuff. And the Tenth Amendment which had been necessary for the states to agree to the Constitutional Compact, eventually became mostly irrelevant. So we don’t need more power to the people. We need the people and the government they fashion to be driven back to their constitutional corral. But with their minds sautéed in a new paradigm, I’m not sure that can be done. I do know this: If it can be done, it will be by precisely the kind of leadership that those old-line cautious Republicans say is impractical and which they join Democrats in scorning. It is this disposition in fact, that has brought America and its productivity and opportunity to its current state of disrepair.


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