Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Lefties Miss Point on Constitution

There's a huffy op-ed column in today's Omaha World-Herald by a New York Times columnist. She's in a huff about the way Michelle Bachmann, U.S. representative from Minnesota and Tea Party favorite, reveres the Constitution.

This has become the liberal/progressive response to the Tea Party and its reverence for the Constitution. Lefties turn the issue into cultish worship of the founders, and then they revel in the flaws of the founders. In their formula, worship of the Constitution equals worship of the founders equals worship of slavery and any other flawed positions they held.

There were founders who wanted to abolish slavery, but let's concede that the Constitution, in original form, protected slavery. Furthermore, in the political system of the time, "all men" really meant propertied white men, preferably Episcopalian. As the NYT columnist noted, the founders certainly would not have anticipated Bachmann (a woman) serving in Congress.

So what? The genius of the Constitution is that it captures on paper a political philosophy that maximizes freedom. It combines stability and flexibility. Those who call the document "dead" ignore the fact that it has been amended 27 times, including the Bill of Rights and the abolition of slavery.

The combination of stability and flexibility was demolished by President Franklin Roosevelt, the Congress, and the Supreme Court in the 1930s. By reinterpreting the general welfare clause to mean Congress can do anything it wants instead of being limited by Article I, Section 8, they shredded the Constitution as a plan of limited government. The Constitution became all flexibility and no stability. That's why the size and expense of the federal government exploded during the rest of the 20th century. 

Some of us want to put the genie back in the bottle and restore the founders' principle that Congress is limited to what is authorized in Article I, Section 8, subject to amendment by the people.

No one is arguing that the Constitution was, is, or ever will be perfect. But it's the best charter of government devised by human beings. Adherence to it is the best way to restore fiscal sanity to our nation.

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