The Real Problem with Our Government

We hear today a litany of things cited as the problems with the federal government that need to be addressed, and most – if not all – are problems that need to be corrected.  But, what is the real, basic, fundamental, underlying problem with our government?

Most Constitutionalists like myself would most likely argue that the underlying problem with the federal government is that it has become unshackled (to use Thomas Jefferson’s phrase) from the Constitution, and there is much truth to that argument.  Indeed, much, if not all, of our woes vis-à-vis the national government can be traced back to its exceeding its limited powers under the Constitution.

Others might point to how the judiciary has unconstitutionally increased its powers to the point where one judge can issue a ruling that holds the remaining 300+ million Americans hostage, destroying the concept of limited, representative government.  Again, there is something to be said for this argument

We could also point to the so-called “deep state” that is in so much of the news lately – those un-elected and unaccountable bureaucracies that operate contrary to the Constitution, the rule of law and the will of the people.

Then there’s the issue of professional, career politicians who are more interested in maintaining their hold on power than they are in doing what is best for the country, or in using their positions to enrich themselves (I highly encourage you to read Peter Schweizer’s book, Secret Empires – How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends).

All of these (and more) are legitimate faults that could claim the title of this essay, but I would sumit that none of them are the Real problem with our national government.

The Real problem was highlighted in a recent primary election in Georgia where a woman named Sandra Bullock (her real name, and no, not the actress by the same name) won the election.  The problem is, she put her name on the ballot as a lark – she ran no advertisements, didn’t knock on a single door, sent out no mailers, etc., such as is done in a legitimate campaign.  Yet, despite this lack of effort, she won the election solely because her name was the same as a Hollywood celebrity!  This tells us that the voters in that district had absolutely zero knowledge of who they were voting for – they voted blindly and ignorantly!

Sadly, this voting disease of ignorance is more widespread at all levels of government.  Consider the low voter turnout in many elections, and we wonder why those who are elected to office stay so long in office!  As the old adage goes, “we get the government we deserve.”  The Real problem with all of our governments is “We the People” and our lack of engagement in the political process.  Or, as that sage Pogo has said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

-June 15, 2018

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Check and Balance or Checkmate? – Part II

One obscure judge can issue a ruling that denies a President his duly authorized constitutional obligation to “faithfully” execute the laws passed by Congress in regards to illegal immigration.  One judge on the Supreme Court can re-define a term in a statute contrary to what its authors said it was and thereby foist upon the entire nation the catastrophe laughably known as the Affordable Care Act.  On, and on and on it goes, yet without any restraint being exercised by the Congress as a check against the overreach of judicial authority.  As pointed out in the previous essay (Check and Balance or Checkmate? – Part I) Congress has both the authority and the responsibility to impeach judges who refuse to abide within the Constitutional confines of their office, but they have seldom done so and even our founders such as Thomas Jefferson scoffed at impeachment as a reliable check against judicial overreach.

Robert Yates, a judge from New York and a delegate to the 1787 Constitutional Convention, became so upset with the deliberations of the other delegates that he left before the draft of the Constitution was completed and became an ardent opponent to the ratification of the Constitution.  Writing under the pseudonym “Brutus”, he authored one scathing essay after another on how abusive the judicial branch of the new government would become if the Constitution was ratified.  Herewith are just a few (and he wrote many more along the same line) of his warnings:

“They” [i.e., justices of the Supreme Court] “will give the sense of every article of the constitution, that may from time to time come before them.  And in their decisions they will not confine themselves to any fixed or established rules, but will determine, according to what appears to them, the reason and spirit of the constitution.  The opinions of the supreme court, whatever they may be, will have the force of law; because there is no power provided in the constitution, that can correct their errors, or control their adjudications.  From this court there is no appeal….

From these considerations the judges will be interested to extend the powers of the courts, and to construe the constitution as much as possible, in such a way as to favour it; and that they will do it, appears probable….

When the courts will have a precedent before them of a court which extended its jurisdiction in opposition to an act of the legislature, is it not to be expected that they will extend theirs, especially when there is nothing in the constitution expressly against it?  And they are authorized to construe its meaning, and are not under any control?

This power in the judicial, will enable them to mould the government, into almost any shape they please.”  (January 31, 1788)

I ask you – if I had not identified who authored these words and when, would you not have thought they were written by someone today for this is exactly what the judicial branch has done over and over again?  Truly, Yates – “Brutus” – was prophetic.  So, if impeachment is a “paper tiger” vis-à-vis judicial overreach, what can be done when such overreach occurs?  This will be our next matter to address.

-April 24, 2018

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Check and Balance or Checkmate? – Part I

Our system of constitutional government boasts having a division of power among the three areas of governmental power (i.e., legislative, executive and judicial) and infusing them with power in such a way as to cause them to serve as a check against each other from increasing its power at the expense of the freedom and liberties of the citizens, thus creating a “balance of power.”

It is easy to see how the first two segments of our government serve to check the power of the other.  The Executive (President) checks the power of the legislature primarily through the means of the veto.  The Legislature (Congress) can override the veto by the high bar of 2/3 vote of both houses, and they also have the power of impeachment of members of the executive branch.

Yet it must be asked, “How and who places a check against the power of the Judiciary?”  It is argued that the control is from both of the other branches, namely, judges must be nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate.  However, once appointed to the federal bench, then what?  The answer, according to Alexander Hamilton in The Federalist No. 81 is impeachment:

“This is alone a complete security.  There never can be danger that the judges, by a series of deliberate usurpations on the authority of the legislature, would hazard the united resentment of the body intrusted with it, while this body was possessed of the means of punishing their presumption by degrading them from their stations.”

It was for this reason that in The Federalist No 78 he had proclaimed that the judiciary was the weakest of the three branches of the federal government.  Oh how wrong Mr. Hamilton was!  Our Republic was not even fifty years old when Thomas Jefferson made this observation regarding the judiciary in his letter to Thomas Ritchie on December 25, 1820:

“But it is not from this branch of government [i.e., the legislature] we have most to fear.  Taxes and short elections will keep them right.  The judiciary of the United States is the subtle corps of sappers and miners constantly working under ground to undermine the foundations of our confederated fabric.  They are construing our constitution from a co-ordination of a general and special government to a general and supreme one alone.  This will lay all things at their feet, and they are too well versed in English law to forget the maxim, ‘boni judicis est ampliare jurisdictionem’ (i.e., ‘good justice is broad jurisdiction’, which means the duty of a good judge is to enlarge the jurisdiction of his court);….Having found, from experience, that impeachment is an impracticable thing, a mere scare-crow, they consider themselves secure for life;….A judiciary independent of a king or executive alone, is a good thing; but independence of the will of the nation is a solecism, at least in a republican government.”

 So, who was right – Jefferson, or his arch-nemesis, Hamilton?  What did those who saw a danger in Article III of the Constitution when it was drafted, have to say on this topic, and what remedy can be had, if impeachment is, as Jefferson stated and has been proven to be true over the centuries, “a mere scare-crow” and “an impracticable thing” when it came to reining in a runaway judiciary?  I’ll address this in the next essay as we examine this very real threat to our liberties by an unaccountable judiciary.

-April 13, 2018

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