Authored by William Robert Barber
America is a nation of laws. The foundation of these laws is integrated in the constitution; included — but not replacing, and always subordinate to Supreme Court review — are the historical precedents of judicial resolutions. With more than just a few exceptions, the three branches of this government have worked within the original separation of powers thesis incorporated within the constitutional system of checks and balances. The exceptions to original constitutional intent, though concerning, did not lastingly spike the power of one branch over the other. That is until the administrations of Wilson, both Roosevelt’s, Johnson, Nixon, Clinton, Bush the younger, and now Obama. In other words, for the greater part of this country’s recent history, the constitution of original form has been successfully assaulted and vectored to other than original interpretations.
Per constitutional amendments, legislation, ad hoc understandings, or executive orders, politicians have drastically changed not only the face of constitutional interpretation but substantively reconfigured the meaningfulness of the original ten amendments. I do understand the counter party reference to the idea of adaptation to new and unfolding events. That these new and unfolding events necessitate the need for change… yes, I got that message. My contention is that though change is a relevant factor of consideration, the process of initiating such change cannot be trusted. Hence, any change from the original must be subject to forces greater than trusting in congressional legislation, ad hoc understandings, or executive orders.
Although the Obama administration has, by means legislatively perverse (I speak of the recent healthcare initiative that is now law wherein the process called “reconciliation” was the means for the federal government to capture a significant portion of the nation’s economy), simply taken advantage of a legislative means that surely was not within the original constitutional intent, it matters little that the intent of this particular process was created for a different purpose. What matters is that the legislative body made this change from original constitutional intent. The consequence of that change, like so many other legislative enactments, did not anticipate the unintentional; nevertheless, the result worked counter to the interest of the populous and the original intent of the constitution.
Attitudes and mores change. These changes affect societal customs as well as the mind-set of individuals. This into perpetuity of constant transformation (of attitudes and mores) has a direct and effectual influence on the particulars of political systems, politicians, and politics in general.
Immanuel Kant contemplated a behavioral norm postulating that the beginning evolves to the exactness of its end: Thesis, antithesis, synthesis, and thesis.
For Kant, change is a constant; nonetheless, change seems to identify itself more as a circle than a straight line. In the dictum of Kant, it does not matter: if the line is discerned at the moment of measure, to be vertical or horizontal, the persistence of persuasion is for the line to bend back to its original thesis.
Subsequently, even if Kant’s theory was missing the exactness of truism, one must concede. A societal change of attitude and mores influences individual thought. Such change, much like style within the world of fashion, will triumph over substance and effectually change the original thesis. This factual of human behavior, though a normative inconsequential for fashion, is, as noted in the Obama healthcare process of reconciliation, an excellent example of legislative perversion.
The constitution was designed around the notions that power is an omnipotent elixir; that eventually all politicians and governmental pieces and parts, in the perception of self-service, will yield honesty, integrity, honor, even good sense to its overwhelming dominance. Conclusively, power and the powerful cannot ever be trusted. Thus the constitution, a document that purposefully limits power by dividing the federal government via a system of checks and balances, should never be altered by any process other than either a constitutional convention or the process provided for adding or deleting an amendment.
My presumption is that in the near term, conservative thought will not attain a veto proof majority. Thus the reality of convening a constitutional convention is small, tiny, infinitesimal, well, near impossible; but, maybe we conservatives can abate the perversion of the constitution’s original intent by electing more of like-same ideology. Maybe?