- Text smaller
- Text bigger
The most important political issue facing America today apparently will have
little or no influence on the national elections next year.
If you listen to the questions reporters ask, watch the debates between
candidates, and read public-opinion polls, it is obvious that the issues
which are of most concern to voters are taxes, education, Social Security,
health care and the environment. While these topics are important, they are
being discussed as though the Constitution of the United States does not
The seminal issue, the most important one facing America today, has to do
with the evolving role of government, what it is becoming, and the impact
upon the freedoms of the American people and their children.
The role of government and the constitutionality of what the government is
doing or proposes to do is seldom discussed by either major political party.
For example, the recent budget debate over the minimum wage was whether to
increase it $1 in two years or to do it in three years — not over whether
the Constitution authorizes government to set wages in privately owned
businesses. The debate over federal funding of education was whether all or
only 25 percent of the money would be controlled by the states — not over
whether the federal government has any constitutional authority to be
involved in education.
In 1924, John Marshall, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, in Gibbons v.
Ogden, wrote an opinion that the constitutional authority of the federal
government to regulate commerce among the states should be given the
broadest possible interpretation.
Over time, this decision to expand the meaning of a single clause in the
Constitution provided cover for the evisceration of individual and states
rights and the heavy-handed involvement of the federal government in every
niche and corner of human activity, from the regulation of who and what it
is legal to hate, to mandates on the amount of water used in a toilet flush.
How far we have come in transferring power and authority from the people and
the states to the federal government is well illustrated by this observation
made early in the 20th century by James Jackson in Volume 7 of his
comprehensive History of the American Nation: “An American may,
through a long life, never be reminded of the federal government, except
when he votes at presidential and congressional elections.”
While the words of this famous historian now sounds naive, he said them
based on his assumption that the explicit mandates of the Constitution would
be honored. He never dreamed that the spirit and meaning of the Constitution
would be mangled by loophole lawyering and corrupted by liberal ideologues.
The wide scope of our government’s hypocrisy is reflected by the collective,
bureaucratic view that First Amendment rights apply only to speech with
which liberals agree, the Second Amendment does not mean what it says or say
what it means about guns, and the 10th Amendment, which limits the power of
government, like the 13th floor of a Las Vegas hotel, does not exist at all.
By way of illustration, liberal scholars and jurists maintain that the price
we have to pay for an unmuzzled society is the toleration of openly
repulsive speech, pornography, and the burning of the flag in public.
Simultaneously, unimpeded by logic, conscience, or the Constitution, they
contend that teachers may not say the word “God” in the classroom — except
irreverently — and people who believe in the sanctity of life may not
express themselves anywhere near an abortion mill.
In his classic book “Slouching Toward Gomorrah,” Judge Robert Bork carefully
explains that “… the American judiciary — the Supreme Court, abetted by
the lower federal courts and many state courts — is the single most
powerful force shaping our culture … and almost invariably advances the
agenda of modern liberalism.”
Judge Bork summarizes his position this way: “Contrary to the plan of the
American government, the Supreme Court has usurped the powers of the people
and their elected representatives. We are no longer free to make our own
fundamental moral and cultural decisions because the Court oversees all such
matters, when and as it chooses.” He goes on to state that the Court has
“… become not only the supreme legislature of the land, but a legislature
beyond the reach of the ballot box. … The upshot is that the democratic
nation is helpless before an antidemocratic, indeed a despotic, judiciary.”
I would respectfully disagree that we are helpless. Now that the problem is
in full view and the enemy defined, those with the will and the courage to
fight the good fight can stop exhausting themselves with attacks on the
wrong targets, including each other. The defining battle is yet to be
fought. We still live within a political system which, however stubbornly,
permits fundamental changes of itself.