Constitution Memorial Day

U.S. ConstitutionSaturday marked the 229th anniversary of the ratification of the U.S. Constitution.  It established the United States as the world’s first constitutional republic.  We may be mere months from the end of America’s existence as such.  2017 could be the first year of a new, post-Constitutional era.  If Hillary Clinton is elected president her choices of Supreme Court justices will tip the balance in favor of a Court that sees the Constitution as a “living document”, one that can be interpreted to mean whatever they need it to mean.  On that day, the Constitution, already in exile, will cease to function as a constraint on government.

“A Bill of Rights that means what the majority wants it to mean is worthless.”  -Antonin Scalia

The Bill of Rights, in particular, will be eroded to such an extent as to become meaningless.  Rights favored by the new majority will be created out of whole cloth, while rights not favored, such as the right to bear arms, will be made virtually impossible to exercise.   Consider this:  The subject of marriage does not come up anywhere in the Constitution, but the tenth amendment says: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.” So anything not specifically mentioned in the Constitution, such as marriage, would seemingly be governed by that amendment. It establishes what is often referred to as “state’s rights”.  When some states wanted to outlaw same-sex marriage, and some states wanted to legalize it, the Supreme Court stepped in with the Obergefell v. Hodges and legalized ‘gay marriage’ nationally.  Many social conservatives objected to the decision on moral and religious grounds, setting those objections aside the decision created a number of problematic consequences for the Constitution. Many, including Justice Roberts, believe the majority in that ruling used arguments with no constitutional basis:

“Whether same-sex marriage is a good idea should be of no concern to us. Under the Constitution, judges have power to say what the law is, not what it should be”

A ruling based on what the majority thought the law should be seems to be exactly what happened.  The Court invented an individual right at the expense of the rights of the states.  The tenth amendment seems to exist only at the whim of the majority.  Impatient with the legislative process that requires consensus building, activists used the Court to do what they could not wait for the state legislatures to do.  Now they have the law but necessarily a consensus.  Because the ruling was based on emotional arguments more than constitutional ones, there is now no constitutional argument to place any limits on marriage between adults, not based on the sex of the participants, not based on the number, nor kinship nor likely even age.  Polygamy laws could be struck down tomorrow, were the cause popular enough.  What would be the argument against?

What other amendments are as disposable as the tenth?  What if the courts because of some public pressure due to security decided to give similar treatment to the fourth amendment?   Our right to privacy would be gone.  Proponents of so-called common sense gun control have already called for legislation (no fly no buy) that would simultaneously abridge our second, fifth, and fourteenth amendment rights.  What if the Court decided to do what a powerful voting bloc such as the anti-gun lobby demanded?

“As long as judges tinker with the Constitution to ‘do what the people want,’ instead of what the document actually commands, politicians who pick and confirm new federal judges will naturally want only those who agree with them politically.” – Antonin Scalia

Another example of how SCOTUS justices chose to use extremely contorted logic to arrive at the decision they wanted was National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, the ruling that effectively legalized the Affordable Care Act, A.K.A. Obamacare.  This allowed the government to compel its citizens to engage in commerce, whether they chose to or not, whether they felt like they needed the product or not.  If you remember your grade school history, the American revolution was fought to end this sort of thing.  A government that can compel its citizens to spend money, determine how much, and on what does not serve the populace, it rules it.

The Constitution was meant to act as the guardrails of our government.  It was meant to act as a constraint to the federal government while protecting the rights of the states and individuals.  The idea of the Constitution as a ‘living document’ then makes about as much sense as playing football on a field with no sidelines, with no objective means of determining what is in or out of bounds.  Liberal justices, believing that the Constitution must adapt to the present society have little compunction against following only those parts of it that are convenient to their objectives while ignoring others.  When the Constitution gets to the point where it can mean anything the justices need it to mean, it will at once come to mean nothing.  We will be living in a post-constitutional America.  The three Supreme Court justices that our next president is expected to appoint, if they are liberal, activist judges, will be more than enough to effectively end the era of the United States as a constitutional republic.

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Maintain Liberty

 

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  the Declaration of Independence 

Those who would trade liberty for security should get neither
Ben Franklin knew there’d be times like these.

140 years ago today, America declared its independence from Great Britain. A few years later, after tremendous sacrifice, we won that independence and gained a great amount of freedom. Today, we still have that independence, but sadly very little of that freedom.  Over two centuries, but mostly in the fifty or so years, we have either traded away or sold our freedoms in the name of security and comfort.  Even as we would not consciously give up our liberty, our government has found subtle ways to take it.  It takes it in the form of a huge, unwieldy bureaucracy, unelected and accountable to virtually no one.

The Founding Fathers started this quest for freedom and it is one we have inherited.  Freedom did not just happen to them, they had to take it.  It will not just continue to happen for us, to keep it we will have to join that long line of patriots that began with Washington, Franklin, Adams, and the rest.  To the extent we fight to keep ourselves free, we find ourselves in their distinguished company.  The put their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor on the line. Most of us are called upon merely to keep ourselves educated, remain vigilant, and vote.  Maybe because it’s so much easier for us, we assume everyone or someone else will do it for us.  Staying free will require our participation as individuals and collectively.

Those liberties that were hard-won by others are too easily lost by us. We should with that fact in mind, repurpose the fourth of July.  Independence Day needs to be a day not just to celebrate our independence, but one that reminds us to recommit ourselves to those freedoms that this country gained by the Revolution, and all those won since. Maintaining these liberties is a constant struggle, and that sacred struggle is one that all Americans ought to take part in. We can do it in different ways, by activism, voting, sometimes just by letting those in power know we’re watching and paying attention.  When you celebrate America’s independence, remember why it was in the first place that 140 years ago it was so important that so many risked so much for it.  Remember and resolve to keep those American ideals alive in your thoughts and deeds for another year.

The Brexit is real and is going to happen.

BREXITIt’s done.  The Brexit is real and is going to happen.  The intellectual elites were against it, the “establishment” of both Britain and Europe were against it.  The ordinary, working Briton thought otherwise.  Concerns over the flow of immigrants from other EU countries driving wages down, and open boarders that let Syrian refugees in insufficiently vetted were a major driving force behind the leave vote.  Also driving the leave vote was a sense that their country was being taken from them, their sovereignty handed over to bureaucrats in Brussels.  The British voted not just to exit the E.U., but for independence.

Because they were concerned with immigration, they were labeled bigots.  Because they were concerned with the failure of Muslim immigrants to assimilate into Western European culture and with the infiltration if ISIS terrorists among the horde of Syrian refugees, they were deemed Islamophobic.

Meanwhile, the ‘stay’ proponents felt secure they had the referendum wrapped up in their favor, and so bet heavily on stocks, running the market up.  Little did they know they were only setting themselves up for a farther fall.  The opponents of the Brexit mistook interdependence on Europe for dependence. They considered the taking in of refugees, however poorly vetted, a virtue.  Even after attack after attack rocked the continent, they refused to admit the obvious—even a minute percentage of Muslim refugees radicalized and loyal to the Islamic State, and protected by a sympathetic, unassimilated native Muslim population could wreak significant havoc. They also pressed the issue of free trade.  Without the rest of the E.U. behind them the intellectuals reasoned, Britain would surely lose out on trade deals.  Of course, many countries do just fine in trade without the clout of the E.U., some of those countries are even located in Europe.  The thing about trade is, that it has to be fair to both sides.  Trade deals that are not win-win do not last, and there is always another trading partner waiting to make a better offer.

Another concern of ordinary British citizens was the weight of overbearing regulation emanating from Brussels.  Common household appliances, including hair dryers, toasters, and tea warmers were deemed too energy hungry to be used in the E.U.  You can mess with Brit’s hair dryer, but threaten their toast and tea and you have a rebellion on your hands.  A majority of ordinary, working-class Britons had seen enough of this micro management from across the Channel and demanded out.

The establishment elite never seemed in the end to understand that those things that are fixtures of British life actually matter.  It was assumed that any sensible person would give up these ordinary things in the name of the greater good.  They ‘stay’ crowd vastly underestimated, or refused to acknowledge the resentment that had always been there and building over the decades.  Britain has always had a love/hate relationship with the continent, but the two forces had always managed to balance each other out, or so it was thought.  The immigration situation was possibly the feather that finally tipped the scale away from love.  Interference from President Obama did not help, the best way to get people to do one thing is for an outsider to tell them to do its opposite.  In the end, Britons probably simply felt like they were being taken for granted by powers that did not place value on a British identity, distinct and separate from that of continental Europe. Nationalism, so it seems is not dead in Europe, and globalism is not quite the suitable alternative governing philosophy that many make it out to be.  In the short-term, independence won’t be easy, but ought to prove worth it in the long run.  Britain lasted for centuries as an independent state before and can certainly make it as one once again.

Memorial Days of our Possible Future

Memorial day 2016 has passed.  The picnics and barbecues are over.  The wreath laying ceremonies have been completed.    Many Americans, perhaps more in recent years keep Memorial Day sacred, and well they should.  Many, many American heroes left their homes for war and never returned.  They gave the ultimate sacrifice.  The loved ones they left behind morn their loss.  From that darkest day, and especially on Memorial Day, they are reminded that their loved ones gave their lives that we could be free. Our freedom, liberty, democracy are those ideals that they gave their lives for.  Their deaths are not considered in vain, we say, because of these gifts their sacrifice has secured for us.  In many ways, this is a distinction not shared by all fallen warriors throughout history, as not all of the fallen died for these things.  They fought for king and country, maybe to protect their families, but nothing more noble than that. Will they day ever come that Americans of some future era, in some future conflict fight for little more?

DSCN0407_2263
Victory in WWII

The NAZI’s did not fight for freedom, quite the opposite.  The Russians fought for Rodina, the motherland and their comrades.  Napoleon won scores of battles, his soldiers won victory after victory for the glory of France all across Europe, and freed nary a soul from oppression in the process.  Japan spent a century at war during the middle ages, the samurai fought for honor and for their lord, but never for liberty.  What of the next generation of Americans?  Will the era of fighting for real freedom have ended?

One by one our liberties have fallen or are in danger of falling by the wayside—our right to privacy traded for security, our right to free speech ceded to militant progressives at the college campus, the rights of the states to self-governance ground into nothingness by an overbearing federal government.  The courts now dictate which religious customs we are free to follow.  Likewise, the Supreme Court has determined that Americans don’t have the right to choose their own healthcare, or none at all.  Thanks to EPA regulations, farmers and ranchers are not free to manage their land as they see fit.  The examples go on and on.  If this is where we are now at this rate, imagine how little liberty there will be left for our brave service members serving in the not-so-distant future will actually to give their lives for.

What then will we tell the families of future fallen warriors?  Will they be told their loved ones died for freedom?  Perhaps, if the enemy they fought against has markedly less freedom even then us.  It certainly wouldn’t, couldn’t be said that they died for the same freedom our Revolutionary War, Civil War Union soldiers, or WWII heroes did.  The surviving family members might be consoled by the fact that their loved ones died for their county, for honor, even to protect them, but not freedom as once existed on this continent.  On that sad day, our fallen will make the ultimate sacrifice in the name of nationalism, the homeland, perhaps even Socialism.  On that day, may it never come, our war dead will have given their last breath for no more a cause than a piece of land, some natural resources, or a border on a map.  Memorial Day will be a much different day, a day to mourn more than the loss of American heroes, but of a free country that once existed that was worthy of their sacrifice.

Have a blessed Memorial Day 2016

 

Memorial Day 2016
Pray for those who gave their lives that we may be free, and for the future of our country.  Appreciate every bit of that freedom and guard it jealously.

Many have made the ultimate sacrifice for us to live in freedom.  Do not squander it.  Do not sell it cheaply. Let us strive to be worthy of their sacrifice.   This is what we owe them, that and our eternal gratitude.

Election strategy revisited.

Election Flag sm_edited-1Going back over my old posts, I found this one:  Quick thoughts on 2016 election strategy. Now that we have a presumptive nominee, it’s worth going back for a second look.  Here’s a couple of key passages from it:

President Reagan’s famous question to the American voter was:  “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?”

freedom qstn

Along those same lines, for this next election I suggest this question:  “Are you freer that you were eight years ago?”

As for the security plank in the platform; let it stand, but not alone.  It must stand along one for libertarian agenda.  Our security will come through our strength and our willingness to support our allies in the war on terror.  It will come when energy can no longer be used as a weapon against us, the Ukrainians, or any of our friends in Europe.  As Rick Perry recently put it:  “If energy is to be used as a weapon, America is going to have the largest arsenal.” Security is necessary, even critical, but only as a means to an end, that end being greater liberty for all Americans.

Everyone assumes that the campaign will go very negative, very quickly.  Really, it’s a forgone conclusion. Hopefully the Republican campaign machine will at least occasionally come up for air and relay a positive message, or at least a less-negative one.  Hillary’s myriad faults are well-known, and will be even more so during the course of the campaign.  We have to present a positive alternative. What if the public knew as well as Hillary’s faults, conservative virtues?

  • A smaller regulatory state will mean greater economic freedom and more jobs.
  • An end to “crony capitalism” will mean that businesses must be fiscally fit.  Those with poor ideas and bad products will not survive.  Those with good ideas and products that the public wants will thrive.
  • Those on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder won’t have to worry about companies hiring  illegal aliens and dragging down wages.
  • Our military hardware will no longer be in a state of disrepair.  This will serve as a force multiplier and make us stronger.
  • Healthcare will work for the consumer, and the consumer will decide what coverage they will pay for.  The healthy young will be able to save for their future healthcare needs.
  • The politics of division will come to an end.  Americans will no longer be pitted against each other along social, racial, and other lines for the sake of gaining votes.
  • The nomination of conservative Supreme Court justices will ensure that our rights as Americans will be upheld for one more generation, and won’t be subject to the whims of politicians.

There will be no shortage negative of ads and personal attacks in the coming months. Conservatism has so much more to offer America than that.  Americans were meant to be free, not subject to the short-term needs of the powerful few, and not be made to trade liberty for an illusion of security. The statism, the control over our lives that the Democrats offer can and must be countered by the freedom that comes by returning to the principles that founded this country.  The party that stands for these things needs to spend some time and effort letting the rest of the country know.

Not just another conservative tagline.

LR Banner Backgrnd WP newIt’s our beloved tagline:  “Not just another conservative blog…”  But why?

A little over a year ago, Liberty Relearned was born bearing the tagline:  “Not not just another conservative blog.”   The idea of the blog then and now, was to teach about conservatism, not through regurgitating the same pabulum you’ve heard over and over again, but by going deep into its central concepts. Lots of people call themselves conservative, they listen to conservative radio hosts, read books by conservative authors, maybe even belong to conservative organizations such as the Tea Party.  Everybody who reads this blog comes with their own concept of what conservatism is.  For some, conservatism means following social norms based upon religious or traditional values.  For others, it means following common-sense fiscal principles.  Still others refer to the Constitution and the values of the founding fathers.  Is there then a common thread or commonality of thought among these types of conservatives?  What does it mean to be a conservative?  These are the questions that post by post, over time this blog seeks to answer.

If you’re on social media (and who isn’t), you’re constantly exposed to ‘meme warfare’, those snappy snippets of wisdom.  You might like them, and think they’re clever, and indeed many of them are, but while memes may serve to reinforce a position, they are not very effective at teaching them.  They are mainly concerned with personality, and tend to emphasize the negative– how bad Obama, Bernie, Hillary, etc. are.  The question is:  To the extent these things might be true, why?  Why is the conservative approach better?  Meme warfare, while fun, and entertaining, is like the junk food of conservatism.

Books can be great for learning about conservatism, but all books were not created equal.  Some books, and some authors specialize in a very narrow facet of conservatism.   If you have only five books on conservatism in your library, and one isn’t by William F. Buckley Jr., you need to plan a trip to the bookstore, or to Amazon.  At least one of the others ought to be about, if not by, one of America’s founding fathers.

Conservative talk radio can also be an excellent source of information.  Like books, though, not all programs were created equal.  As some books fall under the heading ‘pulp fiction’, some programs could fall under the heading: ‘pulp conservatism’, merely recitations of conservative or Republican talking points.  Some are quite educational, if you find a host that not just entertains, but enlightens you, tune in as often as possible and read their books. Many shows though only focus on current events.  That’s great, but it’s assumed the listener already has a base of conservative knowledge.  In any event, they are probably the means by which most people are introduced to conservative thought.

Of course if you’re reading this, you’ve chosen the web as at least one source of conservative information.  Needless to say, there is a wide range, both in subject matter and quality, of blogs.  On one end, you have the academic sites. These over the course of time can be the equivalent of a college level course on politics.  On the other end are those that focus on meme warfare and political satire.  Both have value, both are great in getting the conservative message across in their own ways. Somewhere in the middle, perhaps more toward the academic end, is LibertyRelearned.com.

The distinction that hopefully will come through if one follows this blog over time is that there is, as the name suggests, sort of a dual purpose for its existence.  There is the slant towards libertarianism and against such oppressive schools of thought such as authoritarianism, statism, and socialism.  There is also the educational component– the component meant to answer fundamental questions like:  What are the central themes of conservatism, socialism, capitalism, and such?  What is so great about our system that we fought to preserve it for over sixty years against the U.S.S.R. during the Cold War?  Just what is so great about free-market capitalism?  These are the questions that this blog seeks to answer, or better yet, provide some information to help the reader find their own answers.