A Weekly View from the Foothills of Appalachia
November 1, 1998 #109
by: Doug Fiedor
E-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 1998 by Doug Fiedor, all rights reserved
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COLOR ME CONSTITUTIONALIST
What's in a name? A lot sometimes. And right now, it is important to get the name correct.
Our first mistake was that we have allowed the far left to define our movement. That was Hillary. She tagged us all, in general, as the "vast right-wing." The problem is, that is not even close to being accurate for most of us. Yet, we accept it without comment.
A person on the far right would be one who advocates an oligarchical type rule, a type of reactionary government that assumes strict control of all political and economic policies in the country and restricts the power and liberty of the people. This is the type of person who strongly believes that they know better than "the great unwashed" masses, and so considers themselves qualified to control the lives of the people. That could include things from strict government control of the country's medical delivery system to directing all children to be raised by "the village" rather than supervised by parents.
The far right want complete control by any means. They wish to control a citizen's right to self defense, education, association, speech, liberty, and even many aspects of people's working and living arrangements.
Who, currently admitting to be part of today's vast right wing conspiracy, wants a government like that? On sure, we have a few control freaks on our side, too. But that's certainly not the political ideal most of us champion.
Nor are we the radical right, simply because we ask for change in government. A radical is one who advocates fundamental or revolutionary changes in current practices, conditions, or institutions. Most radicals wish to overthrow the established social order.
Admittedly, there is also some of that in our movement. But the term fits the administration and the Democratic Party much better than any of us on our side. Because, in truth, we are not true radicals. We call for that Constitutional form of government designed by the Founding Fathers. That is not "radical." Rather, that is our well established birthright as American citizens.
That said, the term "conservative" somewhat fits -- or did once, anyway. But even the tag of conservative does not work well for two reasons: First, we most certainly do not wish to "conserve" the status quo -- the type of government we now have. And second, the term no longer works well for us because we have allowed the socialists to make conservatism synonymous with "right-wing."
We have allowed the far left to debase the terms we most frequently use to define ourselves. So, too, have we allowed them to soften their own true colors. Today, many socialists call themselves "progressives." The word "progressive" may sound nicer, but they are still big government loving socialists.
Like its kissing cousin, communism, the socialist way of today's Democratic Party is nearly the direct opposite of our American Constitutional form of government. Nor is socialism compatible with our American rule of law. It oppresses our unalienable personal rights to life, liberty and property. Therefore, we should not allow socialism to exist, in any form, in the United States.
So what can we be properly called? If we believe in the individual rights of life, liberty and property; if we believe in a Constitutionally limited federal government; if we believe in freedom and liberty for all who do not use their freedom and liberty to bother others; we are Constitutionalists.
And, if we really are Constitutionalists, there is no need to worry about tags like "right," "left," "conservative" or "liberal." We are none of those. We need only point to our copy of the Constitution, and relate how its interpretation is expanded in the Federalist Papers. An appendix to that would be James Madison's address to the House when he presented the Bill of Rights.
Being a Constitutionalist, our platform, and the arguments in defense of our platform, are easier. Everything is all spelled out for us and ready to go. We need not argue the differences between conservative and liberal, right and left. What is not tasked to the federal government by the Constitution is not allowed. That's it! The Constitution limits government, not citizens. And, as set down in the Bill of Rights, all rights belong to the people.
At one time in our history, there was another term for a Constitutionalist. The term was coined in honor of the Father of our Constitution: James Madison. The philosophy was called Madisonism. The practitioners, then, were Madisonists. Our Constitution was known, for a time, as the "Madisonian system."
So, what's in a name? A lot! The correct name can immediately separate us from the riffraff who do not honor our Constitution and the American way of life it was intended to protect.
We must not allow socialists to define us with a false tag. Because, in truth, most of us are Constitutionalists. Therefore, we should fly our correct colors.
In "American Communications Association v. Douds" (339 U.S. 382, 442), the U.S. Supreme Court said, "It is not the function of our Government to keep the citizen from falling into error; it is the function of the citizen to keep the Government from falling into error."
Abraham Lincoln instructed, "The people are the masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who would pervert it!"
Thomas Jefferson asked: "Does the government fear us? Or do we fear the government? When the people fear the government, tyranny has found victory. The federal government is our servant, not our master."
In The Federalist Papers No. 78, Alexander Hamilton writes:
There is no position which depends on clearer principles than that every act of a delegated authority, contrary to the tenor of the commission under which it is exercised, is void. No legislative act, therefore, contrary to the Constitution, can be valid. To deny this would be to affirm that the deputy is greater than his principal; that the servant is above his master; that the representatives of the people are superior to the people themselves; that men acting by virtue of powers may do not only what their powers do not authorize, but what they forbid.
There are many thousands of strong quotations that could be interjected here. But, these four seem to make the point nicely: We have been negligent.
And the operative word here is "We," as in "We the People." Because it is "We" who are the sovereigns in these United States of America. Not, as some would have us believe, the federal government. And it is "We" who have abdicated one of our most important duties as sovereigns.
Our basic function as sovereigns is to oversee the servants: In this case, those in government. But, for the last 60 years, "We" did not pay attention. "We" did not fulfill our proper function as sovereigns. Now look: The servants have taken over.
Power abhors a vacuum. When the sovereign's away, the servants will play. If the sovereign stays away too long, he's liable to find a totally different type of government in place when he returns -- one that does not necessarily include him.
And folks, that's pretty much what we have. Bureaucrats are now the controllers. Starting with Roosevelt, there has been a quiet and gradual role reversal. We are now the servants and bureaucrats are now becoming the sovereigns.
Think not? Quick! Name two rights the government does not control. . . .
Right! You cannot think of even one. Well . . . can you?
We are now the controlled. In fact, we are now the totally controlled. Those basic human rights and liberties our Founding Fathers once called "unalienable" are today no more than arbitrary permissions, temporarily granted (or forbidden) by those running a capricious central government.
Do you think this is what was intended by the Founding Fathers when they wrote the Constitution? If not, what do you intend to do about it?
What would the Founding Fathers say, were they to return to see what the federal government has mutated into? Old Ben Franklin would probably sigh and say that we gave you freedom but you could not keep it. Hamilton would probably seek out a George Washington to form an army. And Washington would surely demand that his name be removed from that city that so regularly debauches our Constitution.
Clearly, not one person we celebrate as a "Founding Father" would sit back and capitulate. Yet, we do.
Who's to blame for all this, if not the sovereigns? Who, then, shall be charged with correcting the problem, if not the sovereigns?
Well folks, we're the sovereigns. Yeah, that's us. Now what?
Our direction for the new year should be clear. What is needed should not be in question. Our only question, in today's political climate, is what method we shall use to institute the change back to a Constitutional form of government.
A few months ago, a group named Campaign for America teamed up with Common Cause to form a campaign group called "Project Independence." Both Campaign for America and Common Cause claimed to be against special interest campaign spending, and Project Independence was to be their public attack arm.
Project Independence immediately started out billing themselves as "the single largest grassroots mobilization ever dedicated to comprehensive campaign finance reform." They were far from it, of course, but that's another story. Their literature asserts that:
Our goal is to build a national movement for reform. As a first step, we plan to collect and deliver to Congress 1,776,000 citizen signatures petitioning Congress to enact the bipartisan McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill.
Former Senators Bill Bradley (D-NJ) and Alan Simpson (R-WY) were hired as the national co-chairs of Project Independence. Other organizations also joined the effort, including the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), the American Heart Association, the Children's Defense Fund, the National Council of Churches, and Public Citizen. All claimed to be committed to cleaning up our elections, namely by banning soft money from special interest groups. That they are all special interest groups in their own right is immaterial, evidently.
Project Independence attempted to gain popular support through their "Declaration of Independence" petition, which reads:
We, the undersigned, in order to reclaim our democracy, demand that Congress declare independence from the influence of special-interest money by passing effective bipartisan campaign finance reform by the Fourth of July.
The bipartisan McCain-Feingold bill, currently pending in Congress, provides the framework for effective campaign finance reform.
That McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill, as it turned out, did a great deal to impede participation in the election process by individual citizens and small groups, but did very little to halt major political soft money donations. In other words, it went far to cement the relationship between big government proponents and wealthy lobbying organizations, while at the same time legally muzzled the little guys. Perhaps that was why so many professional lobbying groups supported it. Regardless, it was defeated by popular demand.
Well folks, all that was a few months ago -- back when the nation's Chief campaign finance money launder was publicly supporting the bill. Things changed some since then, as is evidenced in some of the current election campaigns. Campaign for America, and many of the other groups, are right back to acting like the interfering special interest groups they belittled last summer.
One very important case in point is right here in Appalachia.
According to the Louisville Courier Journal, Doug Berman, president of Campaign for America, said that his group is concentrating on Kentucky's U.S. Senate race because New York was too expensive, TV time was scarce in North Carolina and Senator Russell D. Feingold, Wisconsin Democrat, "has made it very clear that he doesn't want this kind of advertising."
So, these interlopers came to Kentucky to interfere in the U.S. Senate race between Republican Rep. Jim Bunning and Democratic Rep. Scotty Baesler for the seat being vacated by Senator Wendell Ford. Scotty Baesler is another one of those big-government loving multimillionaire liberals who like to make a career of telling everyone else what to do. He welcomes the extra spending on his behalf.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that independent groups have a right to run political ads. Baesler, however, said he did not agree with the Court. Last spring, in the heat of the campaign finance bill debate, Baesler told reporters that election campaigns must be free "from the clutches of special interest."
Apparently, though, the hypocrite didn't mean that "his" campaign committee finances should be free from the clutches of special interest. Incidentally, the Campaign for America organization is bankrolled primarily by Jerome Kohlberg, Jr., (investment banking and corporate finance activities) who the Washington Times called a "billionaire financier and Democratic fat cat." So much for not accepting special interest funds. . . .
According to news reports and Federal Election Commission Records, Campaign for America spent $466,000 on attack ads in the Kentucky Senate race, all against Jim Bunning and favoring the liberal Baesler.
In reply, the National Right to Life Political Action Committee started running radio ads calling Baesler a "hypocrite" for remaining silent about Campaign for America's attack ads. As a Congressman, Baesler, of course, favored the obnoxious McCain-Feingold bill, so the Right to Life group certainly has a good point there.
For these and many other reasons, we pick Jim Bunning to be the junior Senator from Kentucky.
We need campaign finance reform all right. No person, except registered voters in the respective district, should be allowed to contribute to a political campaign. Keep it simple and it will work. Anything else is little more then buying influence.
Share-cropping became common in the United States after the Civil War. Back then, many Southern plantations had ample land, but little money to pay wages. At the same time, a large segment of the population was left impoverished, with little prospect of earning an adequate living. So, it was little surprise that the landed people -- those with the means of producing a product -- contracted with the poor, who had labor to offer, to produce a product from which both might profit.
Share croppers normally received a home, the necessary tools, farm animals, and sometimes even some education, for their labor. They also received a share in the profit -- usually, about half -- from the fruits of their labor.
This arrangement was somewhat similar to the arrangement of the serfs of England. Both groups were tied to the land owner. Both paid half of the product of their labor for the privilege of living and working on the land. And, with both, the amount of freedom allowed to the workers by the landowners was often quite arbitrary.
Usually, the land owner told them what they will do, how they are to do it and when they were expected to do it. For instance, the land owners wished to insure that everyone in the family would be available to work the fields during the growing season. To that end, they even suspended education every summer.
Today, few of us work the fields. Yet, are we less of a share cropper? Clearly, half of all the proceeds of our labor is still paid to the ultimate landowner, the government. Unlike serfs or share-croppers, we must now purchase the land on which we live. Yet, the ultimate landowner -- the government -- still instructs us on what we may or may not do with that land.
There was a time in our common law when it was taught that "Every man's house is his castle; and even though the winds of heaven may blow through it, the King may not enter." That was, of course, to include the sheriff, the tax collector, and all other police officers, too. However, the Lords and Ladies of Congress did not find this common law maxim expedient to the expressed goals of modern government. Consequently, they created ways to totally trash the concept.
Not to be outdone by the original land-barons of old, today's government has decreed "servient estate" over our property to itself. That is, federal, state and local governments have passed laws allowing government agents easement to our private property. Consequently, not only can today's government place restrictions on the use of private property, government agents may now search and seize private property, almost at will.
You think not? Violate some incomprehensible wetland law and the Army (Corps of Engineers) comes after you. Forget to pay property tax, or what the IRS says you owe, and men with guns come to run you off of your land. And, God forbid some farmer would grow a crop that is not politically correct. . . .
A court trial is no longer usually necessary to confiscate private property. But, even if there is cause for trial, first you must relinquish possession of your property to the applicable government agency. Then, you may go to trial.
Adding insult to injury, the Supreme Court recently approved government's taking of private property by saying that forfeiture was different than punishment. This opinion gave police, and most other government agencies, cart blanche to confiscate private property for a whole host of reasons. And they do. There is great incentive for government agencies to confiscate private property. By law, they then use the proceeds from selling forfeited property to supplement the agency's budget.
So too with the concept of privacy. Like the land owner of old, today's government keeps very good records on its citizens. Hundreds of citizen databases exist throughout the country, containing everything from education, criminal and medical to financial records. Worse, all of these databases will soon be connected, allowing any bureaucrat to instantly compile a complete dossier on any American citizen.
Today's government schools no longer teach much about the relationship between the European serf and Master. Nor do they teach much about the tenuous relationship between the Southern share-croppers and land owners. Perhaps there is good reason for that.
"What prudent merchant will hazard his fortunes in any new branch of commerce when he knows not that his plans may be rendered unlawful before they can be executed?" asked James Madison in 1787. His words ring very true again today.
Later, in The Federalist #44 he wrote,
The sober people of America are weary of the fluctuating policy which has directed the public councils. They have seen with regret and indignation that sudden changes and legislative interferences, in cases affecting personal rights, become jobs in the hands of enterprising and influential speculators, and snares to the more industrious and less informed part of the community. They have seen, too, that one legislative interference is but the first link of a long chain of repetitions, every subsequent interference being naturally produced by the effects of the preceding.
Madison was writing about the capricious legislative actions of Great Britain. But, if we rewrote that in modern English, most Americans would identify it as describing today's federal government.
A few years ago, Business Week reported that there are more than 100,000 new laws, rules and regulations enacted in the United States each year. Between 1976 and 1986, state legislatures alone made up 248,000 new laws. And, on average, each of these laws spurred at least ten new regulations.
And that's only the state governments, folks. The federal government is even worse. The last time we counted, there were over 11,585 pages of IRS regulations, 11,270 pages of regulations for Agriculture, 11,808 pages for the EPA, and 5,368 for Labor, to name just a few affecting our personal activities. A quick look in a public library showed 212 fat books containing over 122,027 pages of Federal regulations directly affecting American citizens.
That's 122,027 pages of regulations alone, folks, not laws passed by Congress. And, we're responsible for obeying every one of them! When you also factor in federal laws, this gets way, way out of hand.
The most important function of government is the protection of the people -- to protect the free exercise of our rights and liberties. Instead, legislators and regulatory agencies seem to be trying to classify every known human activity as either prohibited or mandatory.
Worse yet, any of these rules and regulations can be arbitrarily enforced on an unsuspecting citizen at any time. And, although they might be officially labeled rules and regulations by government, to the citizen they have the full force of law. After all, what happens if you break one of these little bureaucratic jewels? Agents with guns come after you and courts fine you and/or put you in prison, that's what.
Madison was right. An over regulated society is not conducive to business -- and hence, to building wealth within that society. These actions by the federal government are, in effect, stymieing the welfare of the country.
Is it any wonder so many American businesses, and American jobs, are moving to less regulated countries?