Friday, January 7, 2011

The Constitution is Important, People

This bit from is utterly painful to read.

For starters, the whole point of the Constitution (never once mentioned by Mr. Altman) is to set up rules by which the government must follow. That's right, there are things the government may not do. In fact, there are a great many things the Federal Government may not do, and the assumption should be that the government does not have the power to act until it is pointed out where in the Constitution they were delegated such authority to act.

Given the last four years, it has become evident that Congress has forgotten the Constitution limits their power.

That is what this reading was all about. Every Congressman needs to take these limitations seriously.

Altman's criticism about portions of the Constitution no longer operative not being read is pretty ridiculous; the whole point of the reading is to remind Congressmen what the rules of the game are. Seeing as those aspects struck out are no longer rules of the game, they do not belong in a reminder of what the rules of the game are.

Altman has also completely failed to understand conservative or libertarian thought. We do not pretend the Framers were perfect; the Framers themselves had no such pretensions and were quick to point out in Federalist 51 that men are imperfect creatures. We hold the Constitution dear because it limits the power of the government. Rarely in the history of mankind have those instituting government made a point of checking their own power. While not gods, the Founding Fathers certainly deserve deep respect for this achievement.

No person holding the Constitution as dear in the originalist meaning believes government should not evolve as necessary. What they believe is that the Constitution allows such changes via the Amendment process. Oddly enough, those omissions Altman starts off by complaining about are proof that the Constitution does indeed allow changes. What it requires is a broad consensus to create the change; small, transient majorities cannot be trusted with changing the agreement in regards to their own power because they will always demand more power. If a broad consensus see fit to delegate more power, then more power will be delegated; mere elections do not secure enough consent and are never focused enough on a particular power to assume such powers as the government may wish to claim are delegated.

Quoting Jefferson to argue for a more expansive government that need not really heed constitutional checks is hilarious to those who have read Jefferson's papers.

I believe this entire argument boils down to the (never particularly well expressed) notion of social justice. In order to achieve this, those on the Left believe they need the power to reorganize society, powers far beyond those actually delegated to the government. If the checks placed on the government via the Constitution are followed, social justice schemes are dead upon arrival.

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