Constitutional Relevancy: The Hard Reality

by Colonel Dan


The Cowboy Chronicle

July 2007


The month we celebrate America’s beginnings is a fitting time to ask, “Is the Constitution of our beginnings still relevant?”  Although it remains the recognized supreme law of the land in the heart and soul of grassroots America , our Constitution has become virtually irrelevant in Washington —  made so by too many despicably unprincipled politicians and too many apathetically ill-informed Americans.

Practically no Washington politician today feels constrained, abides by or is apparently compelled to follow the Constitution as envisioned by our Founders.  I hate to burst any bubbles but the hard reality is the Constitution is ignored at will across today’s political scene.  From the White House to the Congress to the Courts, they disregard the Constitution when it gets in their way and hide behind it when it’s convenient. When those that are charged with enforcing the law ignore the law, there is no law. 

Can we ignore parts of the concept upon which our country was founded and still regard that concept as whole?  No, because to ignore part shows a fundamental mind-set of disrespect for constitutional law and inevitably leads to a disregard of the whole, eventually rendering the entire Constitution irrelevant.  If there’s no respect for or strict enforcement of all its principles, nor a price to be paid for its violation, the entire concept will ultimately become meaningless.

I’m no formally trained Constitutional authority and some lawyers and many politicians will certainly disagree but so what.  Below is the simple view of a simple soldier exemplifying what I consider to be a growing and arrogant disregard of our basic principles of freedom.

Amendment I “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or the prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech   Where is the separation of church and state that government has forcefully imposed on us barring God from public life?  Who is the restricted party here?  It says, “Congress shall make no law…” thus it’s Congress that’s the restricted element not the citizens. Yet government has severely restricted the citizenry where the free exercise thereof is concerned.  Just as incredibly, Congress, President Bush and the Supreme Court unashamedly abridged freedom of speech when they passed, signed and upheld the Campaign Finance Reform Bill.  Politics over sacred oath, honor, principle and law is the norm these days and for this, I will never forgive the President, Congress or the Court…nor will I forget.  The First has been ignored. 

Amendment II “…the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” This amendment has been violated thousands of times as we all know.  Laws prohibiting selected weapons, magazine capacities, rates of fire, barrel lengths, registration, permits and regulations that restrict or prohibit our ability to buy, keep and bear arms are infringements—plain and simple. The Second has been ignored.

Amendment V “…nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” Consider the bastardization of eminent domain, the power of the Environmental Protection Agency or the Endangered Species Act. Have a section of your property declared a wetland or find some “Endangered Species” on it and see how private your property really is and then ask the recent victims of the modern application of “eminent domain” about public use and just compensation. The Fifth has been ignored.

Amendment X “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” The tenth amendment was probably the first casualty in this federal power grab. The original concept was for states to do 95% of the governing with only 5% at the federal level.  What about the Departments of Education, Energy, Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, and the billions given away in foreign aid?  Where in the Constitution does it empower the federal government to do any of this?  Nowhere, yet Washington has tremendous control over your life in areas never envisioned by the founders or enumerated by the Constitution. Instead of the states being the primary level of government, they’ve become subordinate agencies of an ever-expanding federal tsunami. The Tenth has been ignored.

Article IV Section 4.  “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.”  Is there anyone outside Washington D.C. with even a minimally functional brain that isn’t convinced our political leaders have ignored and totally abrogated their constitutional responsibilities to protect us against the scandalous invasion along our borders and its associated violence?  Article IV, Section 4 has been indefensibly ignored by all three branches of government!

The day we apathetically allowed Washington to expand its power beyond specified constitutional limits and rationalized it with some feel good excuse for the sake of convenience or perceived security was the day we started down this slippery slope.

Today, politicos regularly violate Constitutional principles with pure arrogance. Those examples cited above are but a very few of the very many.

Politicians are driven by a “whatever you can get away with” philosophy of wielding power. The only time you’ll hear them refer to the Constitution as a restrictive document is when they need it as personal cover or as an excuse for inaction or twisting its meaning to convey that which it strictly and obviously forbids—ergo freedom “from” religion instead of freedom “of” religion. 

In fact, many modern day Americans expect such stepping over the constitutional line or they accuse Congress of being a “do nothing” body. Considering the aftermath of the alternative, I much prefer “do nothing” politicians.

Historically, this slide is the natural progression of government as I’ve written about before and as Jefferson described saying, “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.” 

How does this natural progression begin? With “common sense” regulation of this or that and then having gained a toehold, it incrementally erodes freedom with the passage of each new bit of “common sense” legislation. 

Our founders knew this and were, I’m convinced, divinely inspired to create a Constitution based on the pre-eminence of individual freedom and states rights—states that were served by a small, federal government limited by enumerated powers; not dominated by an unconstrained behemoth. 

We’ve slid a long way into the pit of freedoms lost since our original Constitution was ratified.  Sadly, far too many Americans these days don’t care about how far we’ve slid or even the pit itself. 

The simple truth is that an increasing number of Americans don’t care who has the power and authority, just so they don’t have the responsibility real freedom requires—a responsibility that would likely scare the wits out of their apathetic souls.

So I ask you, can a credible argument be made that the Constitution has sadly become pretty much irrelevant when the government it was designed to rein in routinely ignores its principles with arrogant impunity and pays lip service to following its precepts while an increasing number of the governed, whose rights it was designed to protect, don’t realize it or care?  That’d certainly be the view from my saddle… 

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