STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
Emergent Questions About the US Constitution
By Staff News & Analysis - March 21, 2014

Executive orders: Part of the framers' grand plan … President Barack Obama … is now using executive orders and other unilateral exercises of executive power to advance his agenda rather than wait on Republicans in Congress. The GOP has grown increasingly outraged by the president's actions. House Republicans last week passed the "Enforce the Law Act," part of a continuing campaign to label any action by the president as "executive overreach." House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) earlier this year felt the need to "remind" the president that "we do have a Constitution." Our Founding Fathers, however, would not be surprised that Obama has engaged in unilateral actions. It would surprise them if he hadn't. – Reuters

Dominant Social Theme: The Founders possessed uncanny foresight and wrote the US Constitution to take care of every eventuality.

Free-Market Analysis: This editorial makes the case that the US framers who wrote the Constitution intended to have a powerful chief executive who could make broad decisions in a short period of time.

However, the reality of the US Constitution is that the framers were under specific instructions not to write a "new" Constitution but to make adjustments to the Articles of Confederation.

The Confederation was not working well within the context of federal institutions: Congress was paralyzed and unable to raise money. The 13 states mostly ignored federal dictates anyway. State law for the most part trumped congressional wishes.

A convention was convened to strengthen the Confederation. The Reuters article evidently considers what came out of the convention to be laudable. But there was a time about 100 years ago when the Constitution was sharply examined and the process itself was brought into question.

Here is a summary published in 1912 by Algie Simons: "The organic law of this nation was formulated in secret session by a body called into existence through a conspiratory trick, and … was forced upon a disfranchised people by means of dishonest apportionment in order that the interests of a small body of wealthy rulers might be served."

And here is part of a post at AmericanRevolution.org:

The opening attack against the founding fathers was launched in 1907 by J. Allen Smith in The Spirit of American Government: A Study of the Constitution. Smith claimed that it was not a forum of disinterested statesmen but "the property-owning class who framed and secured the adoption of the Constitution."

… Under the Articles of Confederation, the central government was so weak that it had virtually no control over the nation's fiscal affairs or the powerful assemblies representing the people in the states. Smith, studying the backgrounds of the 55 delegates at Philadelphia, believed they constituted an economic elite. The new Constitution erected at Philadelphia greatly enhanced the fiscal powers of the national government, and so he concluded the founding fathers were acting out of natural, economic self-interest.

Smith was even more alarmed by what he thought were the antidemocratic sentiments of the delegates. Whereas he had only intimated at a possible conspiracy along economic lines, he more fully developed the notion that there was a political conspiracy. He charged that "democracy … was not the object which the framers of the American Constitution had in view, but the very thing they wished to avoid … the efforts of the Constitutional Convention were directed to the task of devising a system of government which was just popular enough not to excite popular opposition and which at the same time gave the people as little as possible of the substance of political power."

Here Smith took particular note of the nature of the new central government. Whereas under the Articles its laws could do little to interfere with the internal workings of the states, the Constitution designated federal law as the supreme law of the land. Only the federal government, for example, could pass tariff legislation or issue currency. The powers of the states had been reduced and, consequently, so had that of the people through their state legislatures. Moreover, Allen viewed the check and balance system of the federal government as largely an attempt to restrict the influence of the new House of Representatives, the institution closest to the people on the federal level.

AmericanRevolution.org points out that the Constitutional Convention was indeed illegal, though the argument can be made that the illegality was not selfish but committed in the name of efficiency and practicality.

banner1

What is true is that the framers exceeded their instructions as representatives were sent to Philadelphia "under the Continental Congress' dictum that they were only to gather there to suggest amendments to the Articles of Confederation."

A unanimous vote of the states was going to be necessary to approve any amendment and thus any conclusions would lack the force of law.

Here's more from AmericanRevolution.org:

The delegates at Philadelphia were aware of this, but they pushed ahead anyway with their design to replace the Articles of Confederation with a completely new constitution. They even changed the rules of the game for ratification by declaring that the new constitution would take effect when only nine of the states gave their approval rather than all thirteen.

Constitutional scholars generally agree that this proviso was actually illegal, even though the Continental Congress finally agreed to abide by it. In fact the Congress did not have the authority under the Articles of Confederation to do so. In this sense one might be warranted in saying a conspiracy took place at Philadelphia. The Articles in truth were replaced by the Constitution due to some trickery or chicanery on behalf of the delegates.

The Reuters article for obvious reasons doesn't examine the questionable foundation of the Constitution's creation but like many such reports assumes the unimpeachable nature of the Constitution. It tells us the framers "established a strong executive branch headed by a president with the authority to sometimes act alone where the national interest requires it."

And it concludes … "House Republicans and Obama's critics should heed the lesson that the founders learned long ago: A strong president does not a dictator make."

The upshot of the above analysis is to reinforce the idea that the Constitution was a measured and wise document and that its emphasis on an activist and assertive president was also necessary to a smoothly functioning state.

The Reuters article presents a case that the Constitution and its emphasis on an activist president was the only outcome of a process that proceeded logically to an inevitable conclusion. But then we have this from Rasmussen:

21% Think Federal Government Has Consent of the Governed

Just 21% of Likely U.S. Voters believe the federal government today has the consent of the governed, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.

That's up four points from the all-time low of 17% last reached in August but is generally in keeping with regular surveying for the past four years. Sixty-three percent (63%) do not believe the federal government has the consent of the governed today, Sixteen percent (16%) are not sure.

Cultures create narratives or cultures cease to exist. What we are seeing here is the failure of the narrative. People now distrust the culture into which they were born.

It is clearer and clearer that those at the top are aware of what has gone wrong but cannot – or will not – cease their sociopolitical and economic manipulations. Wars will be expanded and stock markets (especially in the US) continually forced up until the resultant economic ruin is inevitable.

This Reuters article presents the US Constitution and its result – Leviathan – as both inevitable and appropriate. Obviously, most of those living within the constraints of the current system would probably disagree.

After Thoughts

This emergent and lingering divide is a deeply important sociopolitical evolution. Its ramifications have not yet fully been felt, but surely they will be. The Internet is a process not an episode.

Posted in STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
loading
Sign up now and join our exclusive international network for free-market thinkers
Privacy Assured: We will NEVER share your personal information.