America is headed, at best, for mediocrity, and, at worst, for shipwreck, for two reasons: It has turned away from God, and it has turned away from the U.S. Constitution. -- Robert E. Kelly, 2014
Part I examined America's turning away from God. Part II deals with turning away from the Constitution. I begin in the late 19th century under two presidents, Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson.
Turned Away From The U.S. Constitution
What has happened to America? Why is the country slipping away from its roots? I hope to shed light, for some people, on those frustrations in this column.
The talented, courageous, flamboyant and fat-headed Theodore Roosevelt was the first famous president to sneer at the Constitution. His image, joined with that of Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln on Mt. Rushmore, South Dakota, represents a flagrant error in judgment that this writer would happily correct, given a few sticks of dynamite, and the right to use them.
Lovable Teddy was an enemy of the Constitution. He believed that, as president, he could do anything that the nation needed. He scorned Article II, Section 2 of the original Constitution, and Amendments IX and X of the Bill of Rights, which expressly limit the power of the President to act independently.
Cato, a conservative/libertarian organization, says of TR (December, 2002): "TR’s broadening of executive power upset the constitutional checks and balances of our republic ... there’s no doubt that TR was a poor friend of the Constitution ...."
Roosevelt served as president from 1901 to 1909, and ran again in 1912 -- he lost. Hooray! one might say. But the other side of that "hooray" was the appearance of the winner, that lovable bigot, Woodrow Wilson, an outspoken critic of the Constitution that he swore to "preserve, protect and defend."
Hillsdale College has this to say about Wilson and the Progressives he represented: He "argued that the separation of powers established by the Constitution prevented truly democratic government. The Progressives ... also rejected the structure of government established by the Constitution."
Wilson, Father of the Progressive Party (which Democrats should call themselves) created a dreadful legacy to wit: The judiciary should regard the Constitution as a living document, to be interpreted by sitting judges according to the needs of the day, as he/she understands them.
That theory of Constitutional interpretation appealed to Liberals (Progressives). They always disliked the form of government established by the Founders, but they were road blocked in their attempts to change it by the lengthy procedures outlined in Article V of the Constitution, which describes the amendment process. But with Wilson's idea of a living constitution, Article V can be avoided by using a political process instead (control of the Senate).
Time passed; more Wilsonians became judges. The Constitution, and its restrictions on the power of the federal government, was changed by maintaining control of the Senate's Judiciary Committee, which liberals had for about 35 years.
In this environment of liberal control, the size of government grew beyond anything imagined by the Founders. The Supreme Court looked kindly on the expansion of the Welfare State, and it rulings on social issues created cultural tensions that never existed before the appearance of Wilson's "living constitution," which politicized the judiciary.
The Constitution is interpreted by Liberals in the light of their views of current needs; conservatives interpret it according to its original intent. Hence the number of 5-4 decisions.
Wilson's "idea" has torn the nation apart. Decisions by the Supreme Court on personal things that affect everyday life -- marriage, sex, abortion, religion, parents rights, etc. --
upset the public, and have resulted in endless court cases. To the average American the question often is: "Why don't they leave us alone?"
Those decisions changed, by mandate, the long-standing behavior of millions of people.
Those decisions were made by nine men/women who were never elected to anything, by anybody -- those decisions changed America.
What To Do
Reverse course. 1) Consistent with the original intent of Amendment I (no official state religion), restore and promote the presence of God in American government, education and culture. 2) Shrink the size and the scope of government activity; continue the process until it conforms to Article 2, Section 2 of the Constitution, and Amendments IX and X, all of which limit federal power.
Other things are needed, but until these two building blocks are in place, nothing will work.
Robert Kelly, author of several books on baseball and history/politics, is also a freelance, award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in many newspapers. His latest books, The National Debt of the United States and Neck and Neck to the White House, are available at Amazon and the better bookstores. His e-mail address is [email protected]