It is better to be silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.
– Abe Lincoln
Though he has successfully exploited the righteous anger many Americans feel at the ongoing elite betrayal of our identity as a free people, Glenn Beck has responded to that betrayal in terms of raw emotion or calculated self-interest. He appears to have little or no understanding of the profound issues of principle that are now coming to a head, as never before in the history of the United States.
Because of this inadequate understanding of the crisis, he apparently fails to appreciate the real issue raised by the controversy over Barack Obama’s constitutional eligibility for the presidency (“Glenn Beck on birther issue: ‘Dumbest thing I’ve ever heard’”).
Contrary to Beck’s assertion, I and others like me do not take the position that we know that Obama is not eligible for the presidency. We have simply observed that there is a positive constitutional requirement that he be a natural born citizen of the United States, and that the evidence thus far available does not establish that he is. We have asked that the courts or the Congress fulfill their sworn duty to uphold the Constitution, and that they pursue an authoritative investigation of the facts and issues involved in order to reach a substantive decision that addresses the constitutional requirement. Thus far they have refused to do so. Some, including both Democrats and Republicans, have responded to public concern by arguing that the majority will expressed in the 2008 election makes the constitutional issue irrelevant. But if it’s correct to argue that, when the outcome of an election warrants it, the winners have a mandate simply to ignore questions of constitutionality, then the struggle for political power trumps respect for the provisions of the Constitution. The result: Once power has been obtained by electoral means, it is no longer subject to constitutional limits.
Glenn Beck simply parrots the mad-stream media’s malicious caricature of the eligibility issue. In doing so he allows himself to become part of the strategy now at work to destroy the moral and political authority of the U.S. Constitution. Beck makes statements like this that seem to show serious concern that the Constitution be respected:
Do you want to argue the Constitution? Good. Let’s show the number of people in Congress and in the Senate that don’t even read the Constitution – can’t tell you right now if health care is even in the Constitution. Let’s talk to the scholars. Let’s talk to the average Joe that understands this isn’t in the Constitution. Let’s argue the Constitution on the laws and the systems that they are building today. Instead of arguing the Constitution and whether or not he was born in America, why don’t we argue the constitutionality of a little-known thing called czars and the power that these people have?
But if an electoral mandate warrants disregard for a plainly stated constitutional limitation (only a natural born citizen is eligible to be president), does it also warrant disregard for limitations on the powers of the federal government that, though clearly implied, are not so clearly stated? How can we hope to win an argument about what “isn’t in the Constitution” when we have, by our cowardice or neglect, accepted the position that what it clearly stipulates elected officials may simply brush aside? What does it matter who reads the Constitution if once in power officials may arbitrarily pick and choose the provisions they are obliged to respect and carry out?
When Beck suggests that we “argue the Constitution on the laws and systems that they are building today,” he reflects a way of thinking that may not be what he intends. His words carry overtones of the notion that the Constitution is a “living document,” to be shaped and reshaped in light of the trendy preoccupations and priorities of the moment. But the whole idea of constitutionally limited government rests on the premise that there are timeless requirements of justice that apply to the exercise of power in every era. They do not depend on the context of “the laws and systems that they are building today.” Rather, they arise in the context of God-ordained natural right, which gives rise to unalienable individual rights that constrain the actions of government no matter how popular the policy they claim to serve.
Is it only a coincidence that the presidential-eligibility provision includes language that forces us to consider what it means to be a citizen naturally born? Our treacherous elites are pushing hard to delegitimize and discard the very idea of the natural family, without reference to which it is impossible to comprehend what it means to be natural born. Is their effort to discard this constitutional provision just another part of their overall push to escape the constraints of natural right? But the constraints that arise from God-ordained natural right are the moral and intellectual foundation for the requirement that government be based upon consent and carried out by representatives of the people, not dictators (czars) acting in their name. Once majority rule becomes an excuse for simply casting the constraints aside, what stands in the way of a return to the oppressive forms of elitist government that characterized human history before the founding of the United States?
Though he uses appealing catch phrases, I see no evidence Glenn Beck comprehends these moral and intellectual connections. In this he is like most of the commentators and politicians of our era. They remind me of the barbarians who first made and then squatted upon the ruins of ancient Rome. In like fashion, they contrive to ruin the American institutions of freedom. Many Americans oppose them and long in their hearts to preserve the Constitution of liberty handed down to us from the founders. Madison was certainly wise to foresee that enlightened statesmen would not always be at the helm of our nation’s affairs. God knows we miss them now. Yet the same God who gave us rights may also, in His providence, give us wisdom worthy of their legacy. Better to put our faith in Him than in people who stir our passions, but lack the understanding needed to articulate and defend the principles that make us free.