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  • The Constitution and Our Democracy...er, Republic

    It’s usually considered bad form to show up late for a party and then trash the guest of honor. But at a recent Constitution Day event (held two days after the actual Constitution Day), Harvard law professor Michael Klarman attempted not to praise our nation’s governing charter but to bury it.

    “The Constitution provided for far less democracy at the federal level than most Americans had become accustomed to at the state level by the 1780s,” Klarman declared. “In addition, it was ratified in a process that was stacked against democratic deliberation. It’s not obvious why we should want today to pay blind obeisance to a Constitution that was adapted in that way and with those substantive provisions.”

    The Founders, of course, weren’t trying to set up a democracy. They aimed to create a republic. What’s the difference? A republic, as James Madison explains in Federalist 10, is a “government in which the scheme of representation takes place.” Unlike a democracy in which the citizens themselves pass laws, in a republic such as ours, citizens rule through the representatives they elect.

    Under that republican form of government, the people remain sovereign, but they cede certain carefully delineated powers to elected representatives. Thus the Constitution remains what it has been for more than 225 years: a blueprint to limit the reach and scope of the federal government.

    Rather than trashing the Constitution, Heritage’s Matthew Spalding urges Americans to return to its principles. “The most difficult task ahead—and the most important—is to restore constitutional limits on government,” he writes. “It won’t be easy to return to the founding principles. We’ll have to move one step at a time and walk back decades worth of bad decisions by members of all three branches of government. But it can be done, if we use the written Constitution as our guide and we believe that it means what it says and says what it means.”

    On that point, Klarman actually makes some sense. “The framers thought Congress would actually legislate, strange idea,” he noted. “Instead Congress passes meaningless vague statutes, which are simply turned over to administrative agencies and courts to fill in the gaps within.”

    It’s an apt summation of Obamacare, Dodd–Frank, environmental statutes, and other recent “laws” that are passed by Congress but are truly written by bureaucrats in the executive branch. The proper response to this problem isn’t to toss out the entire Constitution and start over; it’s to insist that legislators begin living up to their assigned duties.

    “Congress should cease delegating excessive legislative power to administrative agencies,” Heritage’s Bob Moffit says. “Congress needs to stop passing vague laws, seeding bills with broad and even aspirational language and transferring to administrators untrammeled power to fill in the blanks.”

    The problem in the U.S. today isn’t the Constitution, and it isn’t a lack of democracy. The problem is that so many elected officials don’t take their constitutional duties seriously.

    Posted in First Principles [slideshow_deploy]

    5 Responses to The Constitution and Our Democracy...er, Republic

    1. Bobbie says:

      the saddest is how those that vow to honor the American peoples’ Constitution, are the ones that violate it. Instead of respecting it’s greatness of the people, for the people and by the people, those in government seats and position to educate use a false interpretation to mislead it’s intent into government socialism instead of freedom, liberty and independence. How LITTLE these people think of their/OUR constitution and to distort it is cheating ALL except government and their desire to grow, grow GROW! The American peoples’ Constitution is freedom from government not a guide for government control over America(ns.)

      America(ns) show such frailty to show pride in the representation by the need for fed government involvement anywhere beyond the actual duty of government. All of America needs strength backing her without the desperation of some people giving up her standards and dignity for government control!!

      A persons welfare is ones own. The “general welfare” are all the peoples individual own. For government to “protect the general welfare of the people” is through law enforcement not hand out peoples’ welfare by government calling cards looking for anyone’s personal livelihoods for more government program handouts. America is losing her freedom when too many people don’t understand freedom is worth more then the government they’ve built around themselves and at less outside costs, control and corruption when they handle their own livelihoods/personal responsibilities/accountabilities.

      Learn the Constitution and you’ll learn the honor and respect to Americans the people protecting it have (republicans, conservatives, libertarians) and the disgraceful dishonor of those wrongfully controlling to destroy it, are. For the government seats to disregard the constitution they took an oath to honor it, is for the government to gain control of the people through force by manipulation and coercion. Both highly unethical, dangerous and unAmerican.

    2. @timrw1946 says:

      I think I read this post at least 5 times trying to figure how the author arrived at the conclusion that Klarman was trying to bury the Constitution. From the quotes provided, as well as the link (bury_it), Klarman is addressing those who have "a tendency today to venerate the Constitution and to revere the founders almost to the extent of deifying them… I think that's actually an insidious tendency, and I want to try to poke a few holes in it, maybe deflate the idea of the founders as Gods.” Stated in my words, to profess that the Constitution something less than perfect is hardly trying to 'bury it'. Can anyone argue that those providing input to the Constitution didn't try to protect their interests – especially with respect to slavery? I, personally, don't have any problem agreeing with Klarman that people who tried to protect slavery are less that deities.

      • Bobbie says:

        "can anyone argue that those providing input to the Constitution didn't try to protect their interests – especially with respect to slavery?" "people who tried to protect slavery are less than deities?" What input by who? What people tried to protect slavery? You're picture doesn't show you to be too young not to know any better. What have you allowed radical leftist government officials do to your mind?
        May you be kept safe from reality!

    3. Says the professor who specializes in the constitutional history of race. Really?

    4. John Stewart says:

      Excessive legislative power by any administration should be abolished under all circumstances. Executive orders need only be allowed in wartime or Congressional declaration of emergency.

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