We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America
We had to smile a bit when Andy McCarthy penned a piece today about “the Corker bill”. We had brought the subject up some six weeks ago here. Better late than never, Andy. Nobody else has wanted to talk about this throughout the whole hue and cry over Obama’s Iran negotiations. The Republicans wanted to paint themselves as courageous for trying to stop the Iran deal when in fact, creating legislation saying the President has to do something the Constitution already says he has to do merely gives him cover to ignore the Constitution. And most of America is none the wiser. Except those who know better. And there are more of those than just Andy McCarthy. We hope.
In his piece, McCarthy related the Corker bill to the budget shenanigans carried on by McConnell and Co. a while back and as he did so the thought occurred that here were two prime examples where the basic tenets of conservatism, not to mention constitutionalism, as relates to policy and politics, have been abandoned.
Ronald Reagan’s famous ‘three-legged stool of conservatism’ consisted of the fiscal, the social and the national security. Many politicians of the Republican stripe portray themselves or are characterized in the popular media as one of the three – a fiscal conservative, but a social libertarian, a national security hawk but a tax-and-spender, or a straight-laced religious stalwart advocating isolationism first, last and always, or variations of those tracks.
For public consumption, and as a means of seeking election, and re-election, and re-election, and re-election, politicos will portray themselves as standard-bearers for whatever is in the wind in their constituencies at the opportune moment. Very few are stoically, solidly and unmoveably conservative in true sense in all three areas. Those that are deserve our attention and support.
But even among those that seat themselves firmly on the three-legged stool, there is a reticence about calling a spade a spade in the matters McCarthy talks about. The Constitution is simple and it is clear. On matters fiscal, Congress has the power of the purse, not the President. And all bills having to do with appropriations must originate in the House of Representatives. Period.
In the national security area (read”foreign policy”) all treaties and pacts and commitments between the US and other nations must be channeled through the Senate, or originate as legislation according to normal order.
And finally, there is no Constitutional basis for the federal government to usurp the reserved powers of the States to control their health, education and welfare policies, or to insert itself into ordinary civil and criminal law, which jurisdictions are state or local except as regards specific enumerated civil rights or crimes against the Nation. Nor, if Congress does not pass a law respecting the establishment of a religion, is there is a reason for the federal judiciary to intercede in any matter of religion or faith in any State or locality. Nor is there any reason for Congress to pass any other legislation regarding faith or religion. That was the fatal flaw in the matter of DOMA, or the Defense of Marriage Act. Passing it was totally unnecessary and doing so allowed it to be repealed at a later date, giving the impression that the “free exercise” clause of the First Amendment was null and void, or perhaps never really existed except in the minds of religious fanatics. Wrong.
So in the social arena, we see the the Republicans have been complicit with the liberal Democrats in shredding the Constitution, or at least in ignoring it. This has to stop. And what also has to happen is our nominee for President in 2016 must demonstrate that he/she understands the gravity of the situation by articulating the sorry state of Constitutional affairs we find ourselves in and the axe that has been taken to Reagan’s three-legged stool and how it can be rebuilt.
If it so pleases them, the Republican standardbearers, we would like for some political, legal and moral clarity, and some vision for restoring conservatism and the Constitutional order. The sooner the better.
And thanks to Andy McCarthy for presenting the cold hard truth to a national audience.