Porphyrogenitus

If one is going to go after sacred cows, one should really go after sacred cows. Most of the people in our society who get credit for "going after sacred cows" are just going after unfashionable ones. At least ones that are unfashionable in the circles they want to appeal to. We live in a world of iconodules posing as iconoclasts.

Monday, September 21, 2009

You Say You'll Change the Constitution

This is great, in a way. I could think of some, too (repeal the XVII Amendment, for example, and modify the birthright citizenship clause in such a way that people vacationing here or otherwise temporarily here couldn't automatically qualify their children as citizens, perhaps).

But really now: If written Constitutions were followed, Steven Den Beste's amendments wouldn't be necessary in the first place, and wouldn't keep things from falling off the rails again.

Perhaps that's one of the points he's illustrating. Probably 70% of the voting public would agree with 70% (or more) of SDB's proposed Amendments, and yet there is no chance whatsoever that any of them would come close to being put on the agenda for ratification, much less actually become part of the Constitution. What does this tell you? We've drifted rather far from following the Constitution, and those who were up in arms over (supposed/arguable) particular violations of it during the previous Administration are, in general, happy and supportive of our drift away from Constitutional government, and indeed are busy evolving the "living" (which means in practice: dead/undead) Constitution away from the written one.

In practice the U.S. operates under an unwritten Constitution in many respects, and only superficially cleaves to the written one. It's "boob bait for the bubbas", and will remain so as long as Progressives maintain institutional pre-eminence, which they have, regardless of the Party in the White House, since 1933. An illustration of this was when our "legislators" this summer had to sit in folding chairs in the basement of the Capital and learn about "their Bill" from staffers, since legislation is written by the permanent bureaucracy and their allies in the extended civil service (ECS for short, which consists not only of government agencies but also NGOs outside of government, University policy institutes, &tc), and not generally even read by the elected representatives whose only job is to, well, draft, consider, debate, and vote on legislation.

Legislation passed through Congress and signed into law is typically (deliberately) vague, the vagaries given definition by mechanisms of "Administrative Law", and regulations drafted by career civil servants. These are sometimes (when noticed) struggled against by appointees under non-Progressive Administrations, resulting in a firestorm in the Responsible Press® (which is itself part of the ECS). These vagueness of legislation is deliberate because the legislators know what will happen, how the blanks will be filled in, but don't want to be accountable for the result. They can then tell their voters it was impersonal bureaucrats and they'll "look into it" (constituent service), and the beat goes on: The ECS wins coming and going, largely responsible for drafting bills and then filling in the details after passage.

Note: I'm against the death penalty generally, but I would agree with SDB's "Amendment" on it, because, simply reading the plain text of the Constitution, it is Constitutionally permissible. Not every policy one disagrees with is necessarily unconstitutional, nor should they be, and I oppose redefinitions-of-terms-reinterpretation of the Constitution.

It means what it means, and has a mechanism for alteration, which is the one SDB proposes be used to return it to it's original meaning. However, I simply don't think that enacting new Amendments in accordance with the written Constitution to return it to it's original meaning would be an obstacle to those who operate our Unwritten Constitution, since its plain meaning hasn't proven to be an obstacle to them before.

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