By George Noga
Whether Obama or Romney is elected next month will make a massive difference in the lives (and deaths) of most Americans – but it shouldn’t be that way. The founders never intended it and for most of our history it wasn’t that way.
Better for us if we still lived in a country where who was President, Senator, Representative or Supreme Court Justice mattered little and elected officials remained inside the constitutional box.
“If elected officials always remained inside the constitutional box, who won elections would be of little or no consequence.”
Americans always have been passionate about their elections. But when they awoke the morning after election day, who won and who lost made little or no difference in their lives. Our Constitution didn’t give elected officials much power over our lives – we are a government of few and enumerated powers. The original purpose of government was to protect our liberty.
Initially, Congress was loath to pass laws outside the constitutional box and presidents (Grover Cleveland comes to mind) would veto any such bills that happened to get through.
The Supreme Court usually could be counted on to declare unconstitutional the few laws outside the box that evaded both Congress and the Executive.
The media could be relied on to protect the liberty of the people – that is why the press originally was accorded such strong protections.
How did we get from the Constitution to a government with virtually unchallenged authority over every aspect of our lives including how much water is in our toilets and what kind of light bulbs we use. How did we get presidential candidates who can declare that if elected they will begin to stop the rise of oceans and to heal the planet? How did we get a Congress that passes unread 2,000+ page bills in the middle of the night? How did we get a judiciary that usurps the functions of the other branches and transforms the courts into policy making bodies with unchecked power? How did we get a statist media that, instead of protecting our liberty, have transmogrified into shills and sycophants for big government?
“Our loss of liberty is both sad and predictable.”
The answer my friends is that what has happened is both sad and predictable; it is in the natural order of things. When asked in Philadelphia about our form of government, Franklin replied: “A republic if you can keep it.” Jefferson added: “The natural progress of things is for government to gain and liberty to yield.“
Most founders did not expect our form of government to survive one hundred years; I guess we can take perverse pride that we made it this long.
Americans do not realize how rare liberty is in the 5,000 years of man’s recorded history on this planet. Madison and the founders well understood. They studied literally every form of government that ever existed and the reasons they all failed.
Once during a debate in the Constitutional Convention on proportional representation, Madison brought up Montesquieu’s praise of the Lycian confederacy as a model to be emulated in the Constitution.
“Americans fail to understand how truly rare liberty is
in the 5,000 year history of mankind on this planet.”
It would be nice to go to bed early on election night, to sleep soundly and to awake the next morning secure in the knowledge that whoever was elected President or to Congress (and who they would appoint and confirm to the judiciary) would have little power over our lives or that of our neighbors.
Instead, whoever wins next month is likely to determine whether or not (or more likely how soon) our nation goes bankrupt, whether or not death panels decide whether we live or die and whether or not we unilaterally disarm and midwife a leaderless unstable world with unrestrained nuclear armed maniacs bent on our destruction.
So much for going to bed early election night!
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