A front-page story on Aug. 21 in The Washington Post sounds a false alarm: “American democracy is cracking. These forces help explain why,” by Dan Balz and Clara Ence Morse.
The analysis is incoherent, betrays constitutional ignorance, and misunderstands the purpose of government—not majority rule but justice secured through checks and balances and separation of powers, enabling every person an opportunity to march to their own drummer, fearless of domestic predation or foreign aggression.
The glory of the United States is liberty, not a Leviathan administrative state that dulls ambition and protects corporate behemoths by agency regulations navigable only by $2,000-per-hour elite lawyers.
The United States, of course, is not perfect. Mankind is made of crooked timber. But it is adorned with the optimal form of government to secure justice than any other on the face of the earth. Just ask the millions of immigrants yearly who risk life and limb to enter the United States in search of opportunity and freedom.
The soundtrack of The Washington Post’s fault-finding is the Constitution’s checks on majority rule. Why these checks should be scorned is difficult to apprehend.
Thomas Jefferson observed, “An elective despotism was not the government we fought for; but one which should not only be founded on free principles, but in which the powers of government should be so divided and balanced among several bodies of magistracy, as that no one could transcend their legal limits, without being effectually checked and restrained by the others.”
James Madison, father of the Constitution, observed in Federalist 55, “Had every Athenian citizen been a Socrates, every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob.”
Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson added in West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette (1943):
The very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts. One’s right to life, liberty, and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly, and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.
In any event, The Washington Post’s exaltation of majority rule is insincere. It first castigates the White House, Congress, and the Supreme Court for not echoing the majority. But then excoriates state legislatures that do! It deplores the fact that in numerous states, the “dominant party has been able to move aggressively to enact its governing priorities.”
Janus-faced, thy name is The Washington Post.
The newspaper deplores the supermajority required to amend the Constitution to foster stability (two-thirds majorities in the House and three-fourths of the state legislatures). Is The Washington Post afflicted with amnesia? Has it forgotten the 18-year-old voting rights amendment (26th Amendment) ratified on July 1, 1971, within four months of its submission?
Reporters Balz and Morse applaud the easy changeability of state constitutions: “Over the history of the country, state constitutions have been amended thousands of times.”
But unlike the United States Constitution, no state constitution has served as a template for constitutions fashioned by foreign countries. No state constitution has earned the accolade the U.S. Constitution elicited from British icon and statesman Lord Gladstone: “the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man.”
Contrary to The Washington Post, the Constitution is our deliverance from the nation’s afflictions.
Its abandonment has begotten our cosseted multitrillion-dollar military-industrial warfare state that has spiked the national debt past a crushing $32 trillion pursuing fool’s errands in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, and Ukraine.
It has begotten a surveillance state demolishing the Fourth Amendment right to be let alone from government snooping absent probable cause that crime is afoot.
It has begotten a cycloptic administrative state that daily pours forth regulations to stifle individual ingenuity and to shield corporate giants from competition.
Congress routinely delegates limitless legislative powers to the president and executive agencies where checks and balances are nonexistent. Executive agencies promulgate an average of 3,000 to 4,500 legislative rules annually—delegation run riot.
Congress persists in limitless giveaways of its legislative power to escape responsibility for policies that might provoke a primary challenge. A Congress member’s heaven is an uncontested election indistinguishable from China or Russia.
The Constitution will be restored only if the American people vote out of office its countless defectors who currently occupy the corridors of power. A beginning would be the restoration of civics as the centerpiece of public education.
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