Friday, February 27, 2015

The U.S. Constitution-Long On Limits, Short On Remedies

     For anyone who reads social media, listens to talk radio, or scans the letters to the editor in archaic newspapers, the phrase, "Clean house" has been a repeating theme for as long as there has been public debate. The idea that we can somehow magically get rid of all the people in power in our government and replace them with angels is contradictory to what even our Founders believed. It is why they wrote into our founding documents the idea of limitations on government, and balancing the remaining power between three branches.
     So one might ask the salient question, "How did we get here?" Here being the place where laws are no longer made by the people's representatives in congress, but by bureaucracies under the control of the executive branch of government. Many are upset with Barack Obama for over-extending his constitutional authority, and they wonder why nothing has been done legally to stop him. The framers of the constitution created a beautiful document that relied heavily upon the honor of the men who took its oath.
     All presidents have wanted to extend their authority to implement an agenda, that is nothing new. But where past presidents have consulted legal minds in order to keep them in the good graces of the constitution, Barack Obama has consulted legal minds to allow him ways to operate outside those good graces. The constitution is loaded with limitations but very few remedies for those who exceed those limitations. Impeachment is about the only remedy, and it has only been used twice before in American history, both times without the ultimate success of removing a president.
     I suspect that the Founders deliberately left out remedies for constitutional limit breakers so that they could be judged by the people of the United States with their power of the vote. The unfortunate part in American modernity is that the culture which elects representatives has become corrupted in the sense that it no longer wants limits on government. Too many in the culture have willingly abandon those limits for the worthless bobbles of government largess.
     If we are to keep self-governance in this country, and we want also to have honest representatives, we must change the culture that produces our representation. A military coup (as some short-sighted persons have suggested) or term limits, are not going to solve the problem that the culture has created. To do that we must change the culture, then we can change our government. Trying to change the government with the current culture left in place is like attempting to bail the sewage from your basement without first repairing the cracked pipe from where the sewage is coming.

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