Posted by: Cortillaen | 01/12/2011

The “Outrage” Of Our Representatives Having To Read The Document They Swore To Support And Defend

Saving a comment from this discussion in response to a NYTimes article deriding the reading of the Constitution on the House floor:

“There is a similar air of vacuous fundamentalism in requiring that every bill cite the Constitutional power given to Congress to enact it.”

This just leaves me dumbfounded. These people all swear an oath to support the Constitution, yet it is “vacuous” to require them not to brazenly ignore the subject of their oath? This isn’t even a serious restriction on our lords and masters in Congress; it only requires they have a fig leaf for their indecency.Here’s the gulf, and one that makes the Grand Canyon look like a mere crack in the sidewalk, between liberal and conservative thought: Conservatives look at the Constitution as what it was intended to be, a document that, enumerating the powers of the federal government, is eternally involved in that government’s operations. Every action the federal government takes, for all time, must be explicitly permitted by the Constitution. We also don’t accept “That’s the judges job! Legislators don’t have to worry about the constitutionality of their laws!“. The hell they don’t! This isn’t supposed to be some game where Congress gets to push as hard as they can just to see how much the courts let them get away with, and the prevalence of that mentality is the reason this country is so screwed up today. After all, if the only limit on your power is a bunch of lawyers, what’s to stop you from replacing those lawyers, little by little, year after year, with ones that are loyal to you, whether out of ideology or bribery? Absolutely nothing. So no, the oath our congressmen take is not negotiable, is not transitory, is not simple rhetoric. It is their binding oath of office, and we damn well expect them to abide by it. This little requirement that they take the time to scribble down the supposed source of the power they are claiming is a start, but there need to be vastly stronger strictures and punishment for those who pass unconstitutional laws, whether intentionally or of ignorance (if “ignorance is no defense” against common laws, it should be infinitely less so for the simple, plainly-worded supreme law of the land known as the Constitution, not just no defense but itself a grave offense).

The leftists, on the other hand, want nothing to do with an active, binding Constitution. They look at it (on the rare occasions they aren’t looking for loopholes or exploits) as a founding document, nothing more. Some old white guys wrote this thing that established our government, but it doesn’t have any power any more. That may be how the government was created, but we’ve grown beyond that and the Constitution doesn’t apply now. The Constitution, to them, is not a cage restricting government’s growth. If anything, it is simply the point from which government started growing. It was simply a starting point and has no binding power today. All that “Constitution that” and “Constitution this” jabbering is just the theatre of tradition, a rhetorical show about roots long-since left behind. This is how they really see our government’s not just founding but defining document. To them, it is, in the very literal sense, history; nothing more. When one speaks of a “living and breathing document”, they are thinking, in the core of their being, “dead and irrelevant document”.

This is possibly the greatest chasm between liberal and conservative thought, more so than big government vs small, heavy taxation vs minimal, centralization of power vs dispersion. How do you reconcile two groups when one views the Constitution as a vital part of every action the government takes while the other views is as nothing more than the remnant of long-dead history; when one sees a government bound by easily understood strictures cast if not in stone then in the blood of hundreds of thousands who fought for this system and the other sees a government limited only by their ability to snatch up more power? Only one of those mindsets can hold power; they are mutually exclusive in nature. This is why conservatives need to see that this conflict must be undertaken as a war of ideas. No simple “discussion” or “argument” can live up to the nature of this conflict, not when each side’s victory is only found in the destruction of the other side’s political power, and especially not when one side wants only to live up to the founding principles of their nation, principles that drove it to spectacular achievements, while the other side wants to “fundamentally transform” the nation into something its founders despised so vehemently as to give of themselves their fortunes, their way of life, and their very blood in the fight against it. It is a war of ideas.

Though we did not begin this war, we have sat idle far too long, praying the same tactics of appeasement that only fed Hitler’s hunger for conquest will defy history and sate the hunger for power in our opponents. No, when war is brought to your doorstep, you must leave comfort and fight, and you must fight without mercy until the enemy is no more. Our opponents have spent decades doing just that, even as we watched and hoped and offered up our freedoms, our heritage, and our country itself, piece by piece for a peace that they never intended to give. Enough of that. Take their tactics to them and offer no quarter. It will take the same decades they have been fighting already, but, even this late, there is still time to fight and win.

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