Skip to comments.E.J. Dionne Forgets that America Is a Constitutional Republic
Posted on 03/31/2012 6:31:44 AM PDT by Kaslin
My daily email containing the editorials and opinion columns from the Washington Post included an item written by E.J. Dionne entitled Supreme Court activists: Conservative justices forget were a democracy.
Surely this was a mistake.
I suspect he does understand, at least with regard to the first question. For instance, Id bet a lot of money that he was correctly in favor of the Courts decision to protect flag burning as a form of political speech, notwithstanding public opinion and congressional approval.
But he seems to join with other leftists in treating the interstate commerce clause as some sort of blank check for federal intervention into every aspect of our lives. And it shows up in various ways in his column.
conservative justices are prepared to act as an alternative legislature discussing whether parts of the law could stand if other parts fell Sotomayor asked what was wrong with leaving as much discretion as possible in the hands of the people who should be fixing this, not us. It was nice to be reminded that were a democracy, not a judicial dictatorship. This is what conservative justices will do if they strike down or cripple the health-care law. a court that sees no limits on its power, no need to defer to those elected to make our laws.
At the risk of being blunt, the conservative justices are doing exactly what they should be doing. Theyre deciding if a law enacted by Congress is consistent with the powers granted to Congress by the Constitution.
America has a democratic form of government, but we are not a democracy. At least not in the sense that 51 percent of the people have the unlimited right to rape and pillage 49 percent of the people.
I have no idea of the Supreme Court will make the right decision, but I am overwhelmingly confident that the Founding Fathers didnt envision mandated health insurance as a function of the federal government.
But maybe Im just too old fashioned, because when I peruse the enumerated powers, I dont see any authority for a Department of Energy either. Or a Department of Agriculture. Or a Department of Commerce. Or Department of Housing and Urban Development. Or Department of Education. Or a Department of Transportation. Or well, you get the idea.
There are several semi-permanent fiscal policy fights in Washington, most of which somehow are related to the big issue of whether government should be bigger or smaller.
Today, I want to focus on two of those battles, and point to developments in Japan to make the case that the left is wrong.
First, lets look at a couple of sentences from a Wall Street Journal story about Japanese fiscal policy.
Top officials from Japans government and ruling party formally endorsed a revised bill to double the countrys sales tax, despite strong objections from other party members, in a sign of their determination to rein in the nations soaring public debt. The legislation will double the current 5% sales tax in two stages by 2015 as a way to help pay for the nations growing social welfare costs as the population ages.
I realize Im a strange person and I look at everything through a libertarian lens, but I think this story provides strong support for my viewpoint on two important issues.
1. Higher taxes lead to higher spending Just like in the United States, politicians in Japan claim that they have to raise taxes to deal with deficits and debt. Indeed, the excerpt above includes that assertion, reporting that the VAT increase would be to rein in the nations soaring debt.
I think this is nonsense. Politicians are motivated by a desire to finance bigger government. And thats whats happening in Japan. Later in the article, we see that the real purpose of the tax hike is to pay for the nations growing social welfare costs.
2. The VAT is a money machine for big government Ive cited the European evidence to show that small VATs become big VATs in part because it is a hidden tax. My statist friends often respond by saying I need to look at Japan, Canada, and Australia, where VATs havent been increased. I then respond by saying its just a matter of time. So, even though I would like to be wrong, Japan is confirming my fears.
That being said, I must acknowledge the possibility that Canada and Australia may prove me wrong. And I will be happy if thats what happens. Both nations have done a pretty good job of restraining the growth of government (see Table 25 of this OECD data), and I dont see any immediate threat of VAT hikes. But Im not holding my breath for what happens 10 years from now.
Last but not least, Ive decided the title of this post is inaccurate. The left isnt wrong. They know the higher taxes lead to higher spending, and they know the VAT is a money machine for big government. They just dont publicly admit these are the results they want.
There isn't one liberal who doesn't think we live in a democracy and not in a Republic
We could be even more of a democracy if we went to national popular vote for the Presidency. Many states are considering this via the National Popular Vote Initiative.
Edwards was right about one thing - there Are two Americas - the one for the EJ Dionne’s of the world and the one for those who believe in the Founders’ Constitution.
Good...then we can all be California...where half the people are on welfare...and require the other half to support them.
Tocqueville famously said...when Congress finds out it can bribe the people...with the people’s money...it’s over.
We are getting close.
Venezuala is a democracy. Mob rules.
Does Dionne have an email address? This will flip his lid:
Article IV - The States
Section 4 - Republican government
The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a REPUBLICAN Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion [illegals, cartels, etc].
Leftists desire a benevolent fascist state. Dictartorship of the majority is their first step.
Constitutional republicans (small “r”) want individual liberty, because they don’t agree with what constitutes benevolence, and further understand that benevolence will be the first thing to go, once a fascist state is firmly in place.
Dionne is an aging whiner...
“Supreme Court activists”
Yes, the liberal justices who ignore the constitution.
You don’t get it.
They absolutely don’t care. They face no penalty from the irrational targets of their propaganda.
There are two Americas, and ultimately I believe we may soon reach a point where secession is the only option. Let the libtards live in their socialist utopia and leave the rest of us to live as the founders envisioned. Far fetched? I don’t see how this country can continue with two totally different philosophies pulling in opposite directions.
Technically California is no longer a republic nor a democracy, but a tyranny.
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,
Depriving citizens of their natural rights is not an exercise of just power.
Media Matters must still be feeding E.J. with talking points — or entire columns.
No he didn't, but he should have.
John Adams' son, John Quincy, was 9 when the Declaration of Independence was written, 20 when the Constitution was framed, and from his teen years, served in various capacities in both the Legislative and Executive branches of the government, including as President. His words on this subject should be instructive on the subject at hand.
In 1839, he was invited by the New York Historical Society to deliver the "Jubilee" Address honoring the 50th Anniversary of the Inauguration of George Washington. He delivered that lengthy discourse which should be read by all who love liberty, for it traced the history of the development of the ideas underlying and the actions leading to the establishment of the Constitution which structured the United States government. His 50th-year summation seems to be a better source for understanding the kind of government the Founders formed than those of recent historians and politicians. He addresses the ideas of "democracy" and "republic" throughout, but here are some of his concluding remarks:
"Every change of a President of the United States, has exhibited some variety of policy from that of his predecessor. In more than one case, the change has extended to political and even to moral principle; but the policy of the country has been fashioned far more by the influences of public opinion, and the prevailing humors in the two Houses of Congress, than by the judgment, the will, or the principles of the President of the United States. The President himself is no more than a representative of public opinion at the time of his election; and as public opinion is subject to great and frequent fluctuations, he must accommodate his policy to them; or the people will speedily give him a successor; or either House of Congress will effectually control his power. It is thus, and in no other sense that the Constitution of the United States is democratic - for the government of our country, instead of a Democracy the most simple, is the most complicated government on the face of the globe. From the immense extent of our territory, the difference of manners, habits, opinions, and above all, the clashing interests of the North, South, East, and West, public opinion formed by the combination of numerous aggregates, becomes itself a problem of compound arithmetic, which nothing but the result of the popular elections can solve.
"It has been my purpose, Fellow-Citizens, in this discourse to show:-
"1. That this Union was formed by a spontaneous movement of the people of thirteen English Colonies; all subjects of the King of Great Britain - bound to him in allegiance, and to the British empire as their country. That the first object of this Union,was united resistance against oppression, and to obtain from the government of their country redress of their wrongs.
"2. That failing in this object, their petitions having been spurned, and the oppressions of which they complained, aggravated beyond endurance, their Delegates in Congress, in their name and by their authority, issued the Declaration of Independence - proclaiming them to the world as one people, absolving them from their ties and oaths of allegiance to their king and country - renouncing that country; declared the UNITED Colonies, Independent States, and announcing that this ONE PEOPLE of thirteen united independent states, by that act, assumed among the powers of the earth, that separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitled them.
"3. That in justification of themselves for this act of transcendent power, they proclaimed the principles upon which they held all lawful government upon earth to be founded - which principles were, the natural, unalienable, imprescriptible rights of man, specifying among them, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness - that the institution of government is to secure to men in society the possession of those rights: that the institution, dissolution, and reinstitution of government, belong exclusively to THE PEOPLE under a moral responsibility to the Supreme Ruler of the universe; and that all the just powers of government are derived from the consent of the governed.
"4. That under this proclamation of principles, the dissolution of allegiance to the British king, and the compatriot connection with the people of the British empire, were accomplished; and the one people of the United States of America, became one separate sovereign independent power, assuming an equal station among the nations of the earth.
"5. That this one people did not immediately institute a government for themselves. But instead of it, their delegates in Congress, by authority from their separate state legislatures, without voice or consultation of the people, instituted a mere confederacy.
"6. That this confederacy totally departed from the principles of the Declaration of independence, and substituted instead of the constituent power of the people, an assumed sovereignty of each separate state, as the source of all its authority.
"7. That as a primitive source of power, this separate state sovereignty,was not only a departure from the principles of the Declaration of Independence, but directly contrary to, and utterly incompatible with them.
"8. That the tree was made known by its fruits. That after five years wasted in its preparation, the confederation dragged out a miserable existence of eight years more, and expired like a candle in the socket, having brought the union itself to the verge of dissolution.
"9. That the Constitution of the United States was a return to the principles of the Declaration of independence, and the exclusive constituent power of the people. That it was the work of the ONE PEOPLE of the United States; and that those United States, though doubled in numbers, still constitute as a nation, but ONE PEOPLE.
"10. That this Constitution, making due allowance for the imperfections and errors incident to all human affairs, has under all the vicissitudes and changes of war and peace, been administered upon those same principles, during a career of fifty years.
"11. That its fruits have been, still making allowance for human imperfection, a more perfect union, established justice, domestic tranquility, provision for the common defence, promotion of the general welfare, and the enjoyment of the blessings of liberty by the constituent people, and their posterity to the present day.
"And now the future is all before us, and Providence our guide."
In an earlier paragraph, he had stated:
"But this institution was republican, and even democratic. And here not to be misunderstood, I mean by democratic, a government, the administration of which must always be rendered comfortable to that predominating public opinion . . . and by republican I mean a government reposing, not upon the virtues or the powers of any one man - not upon that honor, which Montesquieu lays down as the fundamental principle of monarchy - far less upon that fear which he pronounces the basis of despotism; but upon that virtue which he, a noble of aristocratic peerage, and the subject of an absolute monarch, boldly proclaims as a fundamental principle of republican government. The Constitution of the United States was republican and democratic - but the experience of all former ages had shown that of all human governments, democracy was the most unstable, fluctuating and short-lived; and it was obvious that if virtue - the virtue of the people, was the foundation of republican government, the stability and duration of the government must depend upon the stability and duration of the virtue by which it is sustained."
Liberals think everything should be decided on the basis of majority rule, unless of course they are in the minority on an issue and then they are more than happy to have activists judges create law in the name of Social Justice. The liberal approach to the role of the judiciary is essentially the old “Heads I win, tails you lose”.
What they can’t grasp is that conservative judges, faithful to the original intent of the drafters of the constitution could strike down a law that exceeded the constitutionally granted power of the federal government, even if they otherwise favor the policy.
I was paraphrasing...but Tocqueville DID say words to that effect. See DEMOCRACY IN AMERICAN Vol 1.
I read it.
None of the libs ever “forget” that issue...they do make a practice, however, of ignoring that we are a Constitutional Republic, in order to see just how far they can get before WE the People have to collectively remind them of the fact.
They will push it, I’m afraid, to the point where they will require a reminding of the Second Amendment’s very purpose and existence, by example.
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