The Spectacle Blog

Happy Birthday, U.S. Constitution!

By on 9.17.10 | 1:34PM

Like a long-lost parent of an orphaned child, the reintroduction of the Constitution into our national debate on the proper role of government is a heartening, hopeful, regenerative experience.

The Constitution was signed on this day, September 17th, in the year 1787. You can read quite a good brief history of the writing of the Constitution and the issues surrounding the intense debate at the time at the web site of the U.S. National Archives.

Those were days when many or most Americans actually thought about the proper role of government, rather than how they could use government to funnel the earnings of others to themselves or use the power of goverment to crush competition.

And these are days where even if not a majority of Americans are returning to those questions (even if not yet the same answers), enough people are thinking about how our federal government has turned into a tyranny that we stand on the verge of another -- this time non-violent -- American revolution.

It took the combination of a big-spending, so-called "conservative" like George Bush and an outright "Progressive" like Barack Obama to turn enough people of both political parties into skeptics of federal government (though not in equal measure) that a retaking of the halls of power by lovers of liberty may be possible. And it's about time.

If we're going to save this nation for our children, if we're going to be able to leave them even the possibilityof a better life than we've had, we must start now and we must start by returning to the actual meaning of the Constitution as it stands in black letters on parchment as the touchstone for all that government is allowed to do -- and more importantly, what it is prohibited from doing.

Just as an example, yesterday the Senate passed a "small business" bill which includes a $30 billion fund allowing the government to give low-cost capital to small banks in the hopes that those banks will then lend money to small business. The government hopes that this action will create jobs, but its impact will be negligible just as every other bit of "pushing on a string has been." But the key to the discussion should not be whether the policy will be successful, it should be whether it is constitutional -- and it most certainly isn't. What in the Constitution, as it was written and intended by James Madison, allows the federal government to take money from taxpayers (either current or future taxpayers) to redistribute to some subsection of a particular industry?

If you answer the General Welfare Clause or the Commerce Clause, you have some serious re-thinking to do.

It doesn't matter whether the policy would work or not; it's unconstitutional and should be repealed as soon as possible. Furthermore, the acceptance of one unconstitutional act makes it that much easier for politicians and the public to tolerate the next one. This has been the pattern in America since the ascendency of Progressivism in the late 1800s and we're now reaping the bitter fruit of that essential lawlessness cared for so dotingly over the last 60 years by Nanny State liberals and power-mad Progressives and muddle-headed do-gooders and haters of capitalism.

So it is with some hopefulness that I celebrate today's 223rd birthday of the United States Constitution. The people are awake. They realize what's been done, both stealthily and brazenly, TO us, not for us, and how fidelity to this document of only about 4500 words could have prevented the cancer of big government, the treatment for which, like the treatment for cancer of the body, can, for a time, feel worse than the disease but which is necessary to save the life of our body politic.

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