CHAPTER FIVE: ABORTION

 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” 

  Jeremiah 1:5

The controversy surrounding abortion law is as dividing as the rift between Civil War North and South regarding the issue of slavery in America.   It is a an extremely important subject, especially for the “Right Wing Christian Conservative Block”, as it is called.  And the legal nuances inherent in the matter often dominate the decision process in the appointment of Justices to our highest court. 

Before I delve into my position on the matter of abortion, though, I feel it is important to point out that the amount of influence the issue has on our decisions to back candidates is often counterproductive, and in my opinion, distracting.  Particularly, in the Republican Party, I have found that far too many members absolutely will not even consider voting for a candidate that shares 99% of their virtuous beliefs and political foresight if they are not 100% Pro-Life.  Quite literally, stating that you are Pro-Choice in the Republican Party is political suicide.

On the one hand, this steadfast adherence to an issue such as abortion is praiseworthy and I hope that the fight continues to further restrict abortions across our great nation.  On the other hand, as a result of this issue, the Republican Party has become entirely too one-issue oriented.  This is an impediment to the Republican Party’s ability to implement its proper platform on all other issues as we are losing the vote of the common person more concerned with the economy, education, and the environment.

Here is the perfect example:  I sat down to lunch with a client and friend of mine recently.  He is a 90 year old Republican who ran his own dental office for almost as many years and co-founded the McLean Bible Church in Vienna, Virginia.  Extremely devout, I often tease him that he should have been a preacher. 

We got to talking about politics and religion as we always do, and the issue of abortion came up.  His view on abortion is that it is always, unequivocally a sin to abort a child unless there is extreme danger to the mother.  Every single time the subject comes up, he falls back on the Bible passages of Jeremiah 1:5:

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” 

His argument, ostensibly, is that a human being exists at the very point of conception, and therefore its abortion is tantamount to murder if there is not extreme justification.  

Playing devil’s advocate, I asked the following hypothetical:  If you were a Senator, would you vote for legislation that does allow abortions, but further restricts abortions by requiring all women over the age of 18 to prove risk to their health for their abortion to be legal?

He responded as anticipated – Absolutely not!  I countered, arguing that at least it would be a step in the right direction.  To that I was satisfied to gain his concurrence.  However, many in the Republican Party take the counterproductive stance that any abortion is wrong, and therefore would look past this proposed “step in the right direction.”  This type of stubborn mindset is is holding progress hostage – not just as it applies to abortion laws, but also to the remainder of the Republican Platform. 

So, what am I?  Am I Pro-Life or Pro-Choice?  Before I answer, let me note a very real problem in contemporary politics – too many conservatives won’t even listen to a candidate who says he is Pro-Life but believes abortions are proper under some circumstances.  Upon a further elucidation of the facts and moral considerations, however, I believe most  would actually agree that there is a proper, LEGAL, threshold. 

Therefore, I am bold to say, that I am absolutely Pro-Life, however, I do believe that abortions are sometimes an unfortunate necessity and our government does not and ought not have the authority to regulate it to the level of abolishing the practice altogether.  Allow me to explain: 

The paramount case concerning abortion law, unquestionably, is Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973).   The Supreme Court determined that a right to privacy afforded by the due process clause in the Fourteenth Amendment extends to a woman’s choice to have an abortion.  However, the court maintained that the mother’s right to privacy must be balanced against the state’s two legitimate interests for regulating abortions: protecting prenatal life and protecting the mother’s health.

Arguing that the state interests mature over the course of a pregnancy, the Court resolved this balancing test by tying state regulation of abortion to the mother’s trimester of pregnancy.  The Court later rejected Roe’s trimester framework, but continues to affirm its central holding that one has a right to abortion up until viability, which the court defined as being “potentially able to live outside the mother’s womb, albeit with artificial aid,” adding that viability “is usually placed at about seven months (28 weeks) but may occur earlier.”

Defenders of Roe argue that case precedent prior to the decision delineated a sphere of private interests and that at the core of that sphere is the right of the individual to make the fundamental decisions that shape family life: with whom to marry; whether and when to have children, etc.  However, I would argue regulation of abortion would not be virtually impossible without the most outrageous sort of government prying into the privacy of the home – which was the sole rationale in Roe’s antecedent case of Griswold v. Connecticut, 181 U.S. 479 (1965) where the Supreme Court invalidated only a certain portion of Connecticut law that proscribed the use, as opposed to the manufacture, sale or other distribution of contraceptives.

It is clear that the government would have to sneak into the privacy of the bedroom to determine whether or not contraceptives were being used and it is equally as clear that such privacies must not be invaded without extreme exception.  Abortion, on the other hand, is something that can and is “monitored” outside the bedroom and instead in the doctor’s office. Clearly, the level of privacy is much less intimate, though arguably, not necessarily less personal.

However, I believe the debate surrounding the right to privacy as it pertains to abortion law is actually misguided.  To begin, one might argue that the protection of a woman’s right to privately abort her child is synonymous to the protection of a woman’s right to murder her spouse in the privacy of her basement.  Clearly the government has the right, in fact the mandate to intervene in the latter.  What is the difference between the two?  It comes down to the true issue at the center of the abortion debate – at what point should the law consider abortion as tantamount to unjustifiable homicide?  In other words, when are you committing the murder of a living person?

I believe the decision in Roe was fundamentally flawed.  In reaching their decision, the Supreme Court skirted the issue of unjustifiable homicide, writing, “We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins.  When those trained in medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man’s knowledge, in not in a position to speculate as to the answer.” 

The “difficult” question, though, is central to the state’s compelling interest of protecting prenatal life, and it is fundamental to the debate surrounding the issue of abortion altogether.  Therefore, the Supreme Court erred in ignoring the question.

By ignoring the issue of life and when a fetus becomes a person, the court was able to shift the debate toward a red herring – privacy.  They focused on the privacy of the pregnant woman and her right to chose whether or not to carry the child to term or terminate.  The harm that the State would impose upon the pregnant woman by denying the choice altogether, the court argued, is evident.  Maternity or additional offspring might force upon the woman a distressful life and future, mental and physical health might be taxed in childcare and there is also the problem of bringing an unwanted child into the world, among others. 

To be clear, I believe that these are compelling concerns.  In fact, I cannot even begin to put a value on saving a child from the horrors of growing up unwanted and unloved.  And it is unfortunate when a woman becomes pregnant, is abandoned by the father, and her life is ruined financially, socially and often times, spiritually.  Further, proponents of abortion will rely on the sudden decrease in crime as a result of abortions, pointing out that since less unwanted children were born, less crack dealers, murderers, etc., were roaming the streets twenty years after the decision in Roe.  A popular book, Freakonomics, has an entire chapter dedicated to that very phenomenon. 

What it boils down to, in my opinion, is this: Roe’s notion that the state’s interest in protecting prenatal life is trumped by a woman’s constitutional right to privacy in deciding whether or not to terminate a pregnancy, is not only erroneous, but it runs utterly afoul of basic morality and the most fundamental of constitutional guarantees – the right to life. 

Does the right to privacy exist?  Yes, and I believe, undeniably.  Also, I ardently believe that the state must not have the right to interfere in one’s privacy.  That is, unless the state has a compelling interest and the regulation is narrowly tailored to address that legitimate interest.  In regards to abortion, the state has a compelling interest, and that is the protection of life. Yet the states have been injudiciously deprived of their sovereign right to police that compelling interest as each state sees fit.    

Morality is the real issue.  Abortion may in fact be “good” for the economy insofar as unwanted children are not brought up in ghettos, crime is proximately curtailed, and the population is controlled, but to champion the right to abort a child in the name of these economic windfalls is disingenuous to who we must be as Americans.  Should we legalize crack cocaine and LSD because it would cost us less not to police it?  Clearly not, because of the harm these drugs are known to have on the user, but more importantly, the harm it causes the user to voluntarily or otherwise inflict on those around them.  Why then should we allow a woman to kill a human being purely for economic concern?  We should not. 

It is obvious that the state has a compelling interest in making it illegal for me to kill my next door neighbor for slandering me, despite the fact that his defamation of my character is causing me extreme mental anguish and possible economic hardship.  So why is it that the state cannot regulate the killing of a fetus?  Because it is not a person?! 

Despite first declining to resolve the question of when life begins in reaching its decision, the court in Roe spent considerable time persuading itself that a fetus is in fact not a person as defined in the Constitution and therefore is not protected as to its right to life.  In their analysis of all the contexts in the Constitution in which the word “person” was used, the court was correct in finding no indication that it had any possible pre-natal application.  They wrote, “all this, together with our observation that throughout the major portion of the 19th century prevailing legal abortion practices were far freer than they are today (in 1973) persuades us that the word “person”, as used in the Fourteenth Amendment, does not include the unborn.”  

The court erred here as well.  To begin, while the word “person” is never defined to include the unborn within the four corners of the Constitution, the converse is equally as true – the Constitution does not expressly remove the unborn from the definition.  And as to abortion laws being “freer” at the time of ratification – are not the protections of personhood afforded African Americans despite the fact that slavery was rampant when the Constitution was drafted?  Could it be, that despite all their collective genius, the founding fathers simply did not think to define person? 

Next, the court turned to legal precedent, arguing that the law of torts and inheritance, for instance, has been reluctant to endorse any theory that life begins before live birth or to accord legal rights to the unborn except in narrowly defined situations and except when the rights are contingent upon live birth.  However, consider this: aside from natural miscarriage, wouldn’t the fetus live and be born but for the intervening abortion?   To terminate the pregnancy, you must kill the fetus.  Logically, does this not mean that there is life being terminated? 

So, an abortion, boiled down to its logical absurdum, is the intentional killing of a living organism that, without intervention, will become a human being.   Who, then, is the court to decide that a human being, which the state has a compelling interest in protecting, exists only upon viability?  Scientifically speaking, yes, the fetus cannot survive as a human outside the womb prior to viability, albeit with artificial assistance, but abortion terminates the further development of that fetus when it naturally could have reached viability.  

The question then, is not one of privacy, but rather one of a compelling interest in protecting life.  It is not the place of the Supreme Court to decide when the compelling interest of protecting life begins or ends.  Rather, this is a question that ought to be left to the individual states.  The protection of the life is properly a decision that must be made by each state’s moral majority through the branches of each state’s independent representative government.  Therefore, it is my opinion that the court’s decision in Roe exceeded the judiciary’s proper Constitutional reach and should be overturned.  

Each state ought to be left to decide for themselves whether or not their interest is strong enough to regulate abortions prior to viability.  Why?  Because the constituents of each state can decide for themselves as to when life begins and when life should or should not be protected as pitted against the concerns of the mother.  The moral majority, which I hope would adhere to the belief that life begins at conception, would determine the appropriate level of regulation propounded by their state legislatures.  This is the true spirit of our democracy. 

The court itself said that it cannot determine when life begins.  Therefore it must not be permitted to tell the states that their constituents’ belief that life begins at conception is erroneous and therefore not compelling.  

Pro-choice advocates argue that the right to privacy at issue is the woman’s interest in having control over her own body and bodily integrity and, therefore, this privacy is one that is of even greater importance than the right to be left alone in the home.  To an extent, I agree.  But they are missing the point entirely.  They are seeing only one side of the issue presented. 

The state absolutely should not have the power to require a woman to have a child.  However, the state does and ought to have the power to regulate against homicide.

There are situations, such as self defense, where homicide is justifiable at law.  For similar reasons, I do believe that abortion is sometimes, though narrowly, justifiable.  

First, and foremost, in the case of rape, I believe that the woman, having not made the conscious and voluntary decision to engage in intercourse, should not be required to carry a child to term.   To do so would perpetuate a second wrong on the pregnant victim by requiring her to endure the physical, mental and social consequences of a pregnancy not a corollary of her action. 

Let us then look at the issue of abortion through another lens:  Sentience.  Sentience is defined as the state of having the power of perception by the senses; consciousness.

When a woman makes the conscious decision to engage in intercourse, she voluntarily assumes the risk of pregnancy.  Having assumed that risk, and having become pregnant, her decision to abort the unwanted child is one to kill a life in being, albeit one arguably without sentience.   What we have, then, is a helpless life that has been brought into being without consent and killed by a sentient woman unable to own up to her mistake.  I believe it is absolutely fair for a state to determine that they have an interest in protecting the helpless life over the privacy concerns of the imprudent mother. 

In the case of rape, however, the mother has not been imprudent insofar as assuming the risk of pregnancy as a consequence of intercourse.  What we have, then, is a matured, sentient woman in whom the family and also the state have already invested, pitted against an insentient fetus.   It is proper for the court determine that the matured woman’s right to privacy outweighs the fetus’ right to life. 

This brings me to the very question I posed to my friend at lunch:  If you were a Senator, would you vote for legislation that does allow abortions, but further restricts abortions by requiring all women over the age of 18 to prove risk to their health for their abortion to be legal? 

In one form or another, all states have statutory rape laws on their books.  The theory behind statutory rape, with respect to a minor female, is that she is too young to give true, voluntary consent to intercourse because of her innocence and ignorance, among other factors, and therefore intercourse with her is without consent – statutorily defined as rape. 

I ask you this then:  what if a 16 year old girl engages in intercourse with her boyfriend and gets pregnant?  Logically, it follows that she did not give true, voluntary consent to the intercourse and that because of her naivety she did not truly assume the risk of pregnancy through her actions.  

In this case – that is the case of a minor, as defined by state statute, becoming pregnant – I posit that it would be constitutionally impermissible for the state to ban the abortion altogether.  Here, the innocence of the minor mitigates against her culpability, and her decision to have or not to have a child, her right to privacy, could be argued to outweigh the compelling state interest of preserving prenatal life, just as in the case of rape.  

Now, having said the above, it is important to note that there are instances when even minors are to be treated like an adult in the eyes of the law and the same should apply in the case of abortion.  By way of example, a 16 year old boy can be tried as an adult for murder.  What of the pregnant 16 year old: can she be treated as an adult and her abortion outlawed except to protect her health?  Quite possibly, yes, but it is the state legislatures, not the Supreme Court that should make that determination.

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CHAPTER FOUR:

RELIGION IN GOVERNMENT

Whereas Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishment or burthens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was his Almighty power to do . .
Be it enacted by the General Assembly, that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities . .
And though we well know that this assembly elected by the people for the ordinary purposes of legislation only, have no power to restrain the act of succeeding assemblies, constituted with powers equal to our own, and that therefore to declare this act to be irrevocable would be of no effect in law; yet we are free to declare, and do declare, that the rights hereby asserted are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present, or to narrow its operation, such as would be an infringement of natural right.

— “THE VIRGINIA STATUTE OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM”, drafted by Thomas Jefferson in 1777 and enacted by the Virginia General Assembly in 1786.

Thomas Jefferson’s greatest known work is the Declaration of Independence, which he penned in 1776. However, his subsequent drafting of the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom in 1779 arguably rivals his earlier work through its clarity of faithful thought and intellectual acuity. In fact, our third president was thought to have been most proud of the statute.

A precursor to the First Amendment, the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom is a statement concerning freedom of conscience and the principle of partition between church and state. In it Jefferson begins with a statement of natural right, a decree of his Deism – that is, the belief that God created the world and along with it, man’s capacity to govern himself. Jefferson believed that God, as creator, granted us freedom of choice, including liberty of conscience in religious matters and that any attempt to restrict it is misguided. Building from that foundation, the act itself states that no person can be compelled to attend any church or support it with his taxes, and that all shall be free to worship or not worship as he pleases with no discrimination at law.

We are to do as governors of men, as God does: allow freedom to reign supreme, regardless of whether we have the power to force others to believe as we do. Freedom of thought, freedom of religion, freedom to fail – Freedom!

Whereas Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishment or burthens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was his Almighty power to do . . .

Thomas Jefferson – “Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom” — 1777

Jefferson could have stopped there, but his genius propelled him to address the dangers that could arise as a result of the people’s proper right to change the law through their elected assemblies. Jefferson realized that the statute is not irrevocable because no law is, or ought to be. Because future assemblies are free to repeal or circumscribe the statute, Jefferson warned, appropriately, that any such circumscribing assembly would do so at their own peril, as to do so would be, “an infringement of natural right.

Today in America, we unfortunately find that Jefferson’s concern is coming to fruition. Americans of all religions suddenly now find themselves well down that slippery slope to no longer being religiously free, and by dint thereof, free at all!

The infringement upon each American’s natural right to be free in his religious practice is not being caused by the outright repeal of the First Amendment, but rather a circumscription of that freedom is rising from a chronic misapplication and material misunderstanding of the amendment’s true edict. As a result, we are witnessing a nationwide deterioration of the morality that served as the guiding principles in the formulation of our Constitution.

Family values, self worth and motivation, even the very lines between right and wrong are blurring, drowned out by the hustle and bustle of an increasingly frantic society too strained to stop and realize what they are losing, a government injudicious as to its purpose, and to a large extent – it all comes at the misguided behest of our nation’s “over-political correctness.”

More so now than ever, we are faced with a new type of religious America. “We the people,” has an entirely different scope than it did when our founding fathers wrote the Constitution. Spurred by the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, people from all over the world, not just Europe, have come to our shores, bringing with them their traditions and faiths. The religious creeds of the world – Islam, Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, Sikh, etc., all now call America home and the United States now exists as the most religiously diverse society since the dawn of civilization. The percentage of foreign born Americans has doubled from the 1970’s to over 10.5% of the population, with the Hispanic and Asian populations growing the fastest. It is truly a modern miracle.

It is our system of ordered liberty, commanding protection of the inalienable rights of those immigrants through ten fundamental rights, that has made this miracle possible on Earth. Men, women and children of all faiths live in the same neighborhoods, attend the same schools – but in America, unlike all civilizations before us, we do so in relative peace.

The Bill of Rights begins with the First Amendment, a decree that man shall not be converted by the sword. And it is through an innate, if not subconscious understanding of the Amendment’s true meaning, that Americans eagerly greet morally grounded faiths with open arms.

However, our selfless attempts to embrace these faiths and traditions with open arms have transformed into an over-zealous, and often imprudent passion to always be “politically correct”. It is going too far, and as a result we are quickly losing what it means to be an American.

The idea of religious freedom is central to the very idea of America. Religious freedom has always given rise to religious diversity, and never, in any nation on this planet, has there been such religious diversity as there currently is in the United States. We lead the rest of the world by this example, as a living, breathing testament to the power of ordered liberty. We should see that we are therefore in a unique position to create a truly pluralist society in which this grand diversity is not merely tolerated but embraced as the very source of our strength.

In order to do so – in order to avoid a collapse from within, though, we must understand the deepest meaning of our founding principles, with full acknowledgment that our system of ordered liberty is steeply grounded in faith, particularly Judeo-Christian morality. Instead, an errant, liberal ideology has permeated academia and deceived our judicial system. We are erroneously being taught that the First Amendment’s establishment clause means that the United States must purge all signs of religion from the public square.

Lawsuits to enjoin the local public library from displaying the Ten Commandments bombard the airwaves. In 2002 the 9th United States Circuit Court of Appeals declared the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, to be unconstitutional. An agenda that includes tearing down crosses, prohibiting crèches and menorahs on public property, indeed the absolute removal of God and faith from the public square is sweeping our land.

Many argue that it is a secular socialist machine that’s waging this war on religion because they see any religious worldview as the single greatest threat to their realization of a utopia where government is all powerful. Certainly some may fit that mold, but I believe the problem has a less insidious root.

A very real affront to religion, particularly the practice of Christianity in the public square, is growing out of most people’s desire to be politically correct, and despite the fact that they themselves are often religious. Why the particular assault on Christianity? Because Christianity was here first – it is the “establishment.” Those desirous of being politically correct tend to admonish the majority representing the establishment. Unfortunately, this lends to reverse-political incorrectness, where the majority is discriminated against and, ironically, they fail to speak up for fear of being seen as politically incorrect themselves. This “catch-22” phenomenon is similar to Caucasians, representing the majority and “establishment”, enduring reverse racism as a natural reaction to generations of long overdue political correctness.

All generations, regardless of race, wealth, or religion, inherit the consequences of their parents’ deeds.

We can all relate to this situation: invariably a person at the table says they aren’t religious, and you shouldn’t impose your beliefs on him. Unfortunately, so many of us simply shy away from the subject, knowing there is no way to convince this man that there is a God, much less that our God is the correct one to worship. But what happens when that man’s gripe begins to have the force of law, affirmatively denying us the right to respond? Must we not then stand up?

The problem is that this political correctness gone awry is creating a court enforced wall of separation between the true historical spirit of America and a radically different, secular America without God, traditional values, or an understanding of its own history. In an attempt not to discriminate, or show favoritism toward one religion, we find ourselves removing all faiths from the public sphere. This none or all approach, where no religion is allowed for fear of retribution from others, is catastrophic to the future of America and her system of ordered liberty.

We must take a stand, and do so with an understanding of our history and the importance of maintaining religion in the public sphere!

Therefore, let me begin with a rhetorical quiz:

Question: Why is it difficult to draft regulation that envisions every possible scenario and clearly addresses them in black and white?
A. Because someone always finds or creates a loophole, effectively skirting the law by hiding in creative gray areas; or
B. Because humans are stupid.

The answer, unfortunately is A.

The truth results from the ironic paradox created by man’s natural drive to aspire for a better future. It is our basic instinct to out-maneuver each other and gain the tactical advantage in our struggles for survival. These desires, combined with phenomenal intellect, form the backbone of innovation, indeed American capitalism. A desire to build a better home and future for our family drives us, and the freedom to do so is protected by our Constitution. The result is the most industrious nation on the planet.

Unfortunately, those same animalistic instincts can, and too often are, utilized to subvert the law. Hypothetically, let’s say that in response to the outcries for campaign finance reform, a regulation passes through Congress mandating that no single candidate can receive more than 2% of their campaign spending money from any single donor or corporation. The regulation is even concise as to the definition of “corporation”, setting out subsets to include LLC’s, S-Corps, charitable organizations, subsidiaries, affiliates, etc.

It is only a matter of time before some of those organizations, desirous for whatever reason to circumvent that law, team up with others to form a faction designed to exert more influence than their competitor. They will form the next version of a political action committee if necessary, binding together to further their special interests. At first, they will weasel into gray areas. Eventually, they will break the law outright and have either convinced Congress to rescind or simply not enforce the law. This necessitates more regulation, further restriction of freedom, and so goes the vicious downward cycle.

The point I am making is this:

“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion . . . Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

–John Adams, 2nd President, Signor of the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights.

As a consequence of liberty, man must be responsible to govern himself. An immoral man will not abide by any regulation no matter how brilliantly crafted, for he is motivated by his very nature to circumvent that law’s application. A moral man, however, will stop at the temptation to evade the legislation if it means infringing upon the rights of others or unjustly taking advantage.

Today, we have lost sight of the need for morality in our people as a whole. We’ve all noticed it, and it is frightening. It’s not just that people are too busy or rude to acknowledge you as they pass on the street anymore; it’s that they are isolated and afraid. And in this isolation, immorality finds its breading ground.

Honorable people ask what they can do for their country, not what their country can do for them. Ethical people work hard for what they have, and do not expect or feel entitled to receive welfare. And while it is a just and altruistic goal to provide welfare for those in need, it is an immoral, unmotivated person that will game those programs to take advantage. Multiply this dishonest individual into millions, and they will bankrupt the system. This is what we face today in America, and the dearth in morality is cracking the foundation upon which the pillars of our civilization are built.

The cultural history of Western Civilization enlightens us as to the true meaning of what it is to be an American and what America must remember to stand for as the last best hope for humanity. This historical journey illuminates the legislative intent behind the First Amendment and equips us with the knowledge and power to forge a more perfect union for us all – a safer, cleaner, more affluent and more virtuous America.

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution reads as follows:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

By the black letter of this law, it is facially clear that nothing has been laid down in our Constitution to prohibit the free exercise of speech in regards to religion in the public sector. So then, what does it mean?

The Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom demonstrates our founding fathers’ very clear understanding that government must not have the power over the conscience of the governed to force them to worship God. However, the founding fathers also believed that government and its institutions derive their power to command from God and do so under God in that, through his own free will, he has chosen to allow us the freedom to govern ourselves without his interference.

It is this second tenement as to the role of God in our government that is too often swept under the rug by those that do not consider themselves religious. The exact freedom that protects the non-religious from legal injustices is the same freedom that protects the religious right to proclaim and celebrate faith in public without persecution.

Predominantly, if not entirely Christian, our founding fathers formed their view of God’s role in government, in part, from the Bible. Romans 13:1-6 state as follows:

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing.”

The Bible enlightened our founding fathers to the truth that government and its institutions derive their power to command from God and do so under God. Inspired by their creed’s very cannon, they declared the self-evident truth that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, and that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is by this faith that our dollar bill states “In God we trust.”

Our founding fathers also realized that liberty was the true purpose of man’s government over man, but that maintenance of liberty and justice over a free people requires virtue:

 “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible” –George Washington.
 “So great is my veneration for the Bible that the earlier my children begin to read it the more confident will be my hope that they will prove useful citizens of their country and respectable members of society…” –John Quincy Adams.
 “That book, sir, is the rock on which our republic rests” –Andrew Jackson.
 “We have staked the whole future of American civilization not on the power of government… not in the Constitution… (but) upon the capacity of each and every one of us to govern ourselves according to the Ten Commandments” –James Madison.

Our American way of thinking, though born of faith, evolved out of Western Civilization. Studying the cultures, their politics and struggles, helps us understand the majesty of Judeo-Christian morality and what it must mean for us today.

The original settlers came to America to practice their religious beliefs free from the dogma of the established churches. The Puritans came to create a “city on the hill” to shine as a beacon of religious piety. The Pilgrims and Quakers too came to found new religious communities.

The Europe they fled, and from which they gleaned centuries of unique insight, had a long tradition of religious persecution. The ebb and flow of Western Civilization from the Dark Ages of religious absolutism to the humanism and self-awareness of the Renaissance, for example, steeped our American settlers in a rich and tumultuous history out of which our founding fathers were enlightened. Their forefathers had lived through the Crusades, the Papal Schism, the Protestant Reformation and the ecclesiastical and structural reconfigurations of the Catholic Church in the Counter-Reformation that culminated in the Thirty Years War. They’d endured the combination of higher taxes, unsuccessful wars and conflicts with the Pope that lead to the Barons forcing King John of England to agree to the Magna Carta.

Braving the icy clutches of the Atlantic, our forefathers left Europe with a very clear understanding that the Ten Commandments, moral mandates they so fervently believed in, were paramount and critical not only to self-governance, but to the operation of a just government. Europe’s war torn history also taught them that religious intolerance, blind dogma and conversion by the sword are the greatest enemies of liberty.

The unique condition of Western Civilization, properly studied, enlightened our forefathers as to the greatest dichotomy of all. Religion, faith, morality and virtues are indespensible to the operaiton of government over a free people, while governments must not establish any law to require the practice of or abolishion of any religion- for to do so risks sectarian violence and the very destruciton of liberty.

This mindset is wholy in accord with the Bible. Romans 13:8, which immediately precedes the declaration that governments derive their right to command men through God, states as follows:

“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”

Being that love is the fulfillment of the law because it does no harm to your neighbor, it follows logically that one man must not take up the sword to convert his fellow man in the name of the Lord and certainly not in the name of the law. Truly, as Thomas Helwys wrote in A Short Declaration of the Mystery of Iniquity: “For men’s religion to God is between God and themselves. The king shall not answer for it. Let them be heretics, Turks, Jews, or whatsoever, it appertains not to the earthly power to punish them in the least measure.”

The principles learned from the Ten Commandments and studied by our forefathers – those virtues are the foundation of Judeo-Christian morality. This religious background, a centering of the Lord’s teaching that one is not to convert by the sword, that one is to respect the law, against the historical backdrop of Western Civilization, from the Middle Ages to our Revolutionary War, educated our founding fathers as to the need for the First Amendment. Learning from history, they did not, and would not have written God from the public sector. To do so would run contrary to the lessons of history from which they gleaned, and run afoul of their true belief that liberty must be ordered and that order hinges upon virtue.

It was a religious revival in the 1730s known as the Great Awakening that stirred our founding fathers to fight for their God given inalienable rights. It was also a spiritual resurgence in the nineteenth century that inspired the abolitionists’ drive to end slavery.

Remember that the marching song of the Union Army during the Civil War, The Battle Hymn of the Republic, included the line “as Christ died to make men holy, let us die to make men free.”

It was also a religious revival that led to a seventy year women’s suffrage struggle culminating in the ratification of the 19th Amendment to our Constitution, prohibiting state and federal agencies from adopting gender-based restrictions on voting. And it was a Baptist minister, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who led the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott, founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and delivered his, I Have a Dream, speech that lead to civil rights being extended to African Americans.

The impetus behind these virtuous movements throughout the history of America are all found in an underlying Judeo-Christian morality. It is from the Ten Commandments that our system of ordered liberty pulls most strongly, and to turn our backs on that is tantamount to denouncing who we are as a nation.

Now, I am not saying that one must be Christian or Jewish to be an American. Not at all. And I’m also not arguing that there is no morality aside from religious derivation. Rather, I am pointing out the importance of these faiths as they were of paramount inspiration to the declaration of our independence and the penning of our Constitution. In our history lies the answers as to addressing our present and future obstacles as a free and ordered people – as moral Americans.

It is clear that morality has very strong roots in religion: Islam, Christianity, Judaism, etc. These faiths are centered on virtues; teach morality and compassion, the rule of law, and deference to a benevolent, higher power. But the growing intolerance toward the free expression of religious beliefs in the public square, in order to protect the sensibilities of the non-religious, presents a very clear and present danger to the continuation of our society’s moral compass.

Freedom of religion does not mean freedom from religion. “Political correctness,” has run afoul of this understanding, and it has reached a boiling point where attempts to appease those with different or no religious beliefs are now met with an intolerance at law toward the practice of Christianity and Judaism, the religions that serve as the cornerstone of traditional American liberty. That same intolerance is now turned to Islam in the aftermath of 9/11.

We must understand, and understand clearly, that this nation of ours, our system of ordered liberty, the right of every American to live free to pursue happiness, would not have been possible without the lessons of Western Civilization’s history. Their faith in the Ten Commandments and their enduring through religious crusades and tyranny, resulting in a patent understanding of the Lord’s word, form the Judeo-Christian morality out of which our Constitution was written. The United States of America is a nation able to host all the world’s religions, peacefully, where each is free to practice their creed without interference at law or bloodshed, because of the founding father’s historical, cultural, and religious wisdom – that, my fellow Americans, is God’s Manifest Destiny!

And so, while it is not necessary that you be Christian or Jewish to be an American, to be an American, you and your neighbors must be morally grounded. Therefore, it is requisite for our generation to stand up and fight for the true protections our First Amendment was drafted to afford each and every one of us. We must fight to win back our God given right to practice our religion and pronounce our faith in the public square, pushing back every judicial decision and public outcry to circumscribe that most American and first of our affirmed liberties. Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism – all morally grounded faiths are rightfully declared in the public square. The future of our nation depends on it!

The above described understanding as to the role of Judeo-Christian morality as it pertains to our American sense of freedom, and the extent to which we as Americans stay true to those ideals, will be critical in determining the outcome of a number of contemporary political issues facing our nation. This is because the key to prevailing in each issue exists in our American virtues. While this could be said of almost any topic, I am in particular talking about abortion and the war on terrorism.

I will discuss abortion and the war on terrorism in the following two chapters.

Merry Christmas!

CHAPTER THREE (part Four of Four) How To Stop Gridlock in Congress:

Term Limits

“Nothing is so essential to the preservation of a Republican government as a periodic rotation.”    — James Madison

 “There is no provision for a rotation, nor anything to prevent the perpetuity of office in the same hands for life; which by a little well timed bribery, will probably be done….”

 — Mercy Otis Warren

Constitutionally speaking, term limits for Congress may ironically prove the least difficult battle in the war to alleviate our republic from the crushing influence money has on today’s political environment.  This isn’t to say it would not be difficult, for the establishment of term limits for Congress would likely require an amendment to the Constitution.

Let me first begin with the difficulty of passing an amendment to the Constitution, especially in regards to the institution of term limits in the legislative branch of our government.  First, it would require two-thirds of both houses of Congress to vote to propose the amendment.  This, in and of itself, poses a huge problem in that a supermajority of congress would literally have to vote to truncate the extent of their own power.  Next, three-fourths of all state legislatures (also congressional bodies) would have to approve the proposed amendment to make it law.

Despite this glaring obstacle, I remain confident that such an amendment is feasible.  While congressional officeholders are, for obvious reasons, most interested in shooting down any term limit referenda, the bicameral legislature, I would argue, is most susceptible to the popular demand of its constituents.   With enough pressure, any candidate vying for the seat held by any incumbent will find it necessary to promise term limits.  Incumbents, to keep their seats, will be pressured to promise the same.  And if they don’t deliver, well, then it is up to the common voter to vote that person out of office.

This has been done before!

George Washington set a precedent in his farewell address published in David Claypoole’s American Daily Advertiser, on September 19, 1796.  Just as he’d resigned his commission as General of the Continental Army years before, he again relinquished his power for the good of our Republic and declined to run for a third term as President of the United States.   Thomas Jefferson also adhered to the, then new, convention of a two-term limit.  In 1807Jefferson wrote in a reply to the legislature ofVermont, “if some termination to the services of the chief Magistrate be not fixed by the Constitution, or supplied by practice, his office, nominally four years, will in fact become for life.”

 Then came Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  In 1940, FDR became the first and only president to be elected to a third term.  His supporters cited the war in Europe as a reason for breaking with precedent. FDR won a fourth term in office in 1944 primarily out of strong concerns with changing the chief executive during the ongoing World War.   However, when the war ended, many people across America felt that FDR had altered the presidency to become a more powerful office than the Constitution intended, representing a clear threat to the balance of power between the branches of government.  

Due to this popular sentiment, President Truman ordered the Hoover Commission, which, among other things, proposed that Congress amend the Constitution to limit the number of terms a president may serve.

The result:  our 22nd Amendment which reads as follows:

No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once. But this article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President when this article was proposed by the Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this article becomes operative from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.  (second section omitted)

The legislative intent behind the adoption of the 22nd amendemnt limiting the terms of a president is extremely important to note as it forms the exact same foundation for why another amendment must be made to limit the terms in Congress.

There can be little doubt that Congress currently holds significantly more power than does the Executive Branch.  I would posit that the same is true in relation to the Judicial Branch, though perhaps less so as it pertains to the finality of the law.

While we are quick to praise a president for what he has done and crucify him for what he has left undone, the American public fails to realize that the president can actually do very little, especially domestically, without Congress’ seal of approval.  In fact, much of the gridlock in Washington begins and ends in Congress and it is why so much has been left undone for so long.  Yet, we do not hold our senators and representatives to the same level of expected performance.  In the 2000 election cycle, for instance, over 98% of incumbent Congressmen were re-elected, despite the ongoing political turmoil of the day and a shift from a Democrat to a Republican in the White House.

The fact is that Congress holds a vast amount of power and further it is evident that the longer our elected officials remain in power, the more likely they are to win re-election and the more powerful they become.  As congressmen sit on commissions and rise through the ranks through tenure, they become increasingly capable of directing pork barrel spending, for instance.  This one example, by the way, is a major contributor to our budget defecit and it has, to date, proven “uncheckable”.

The very fact that Congress wields so much power and oversight is reason enough for considering term limits to guard against the corruption of power indefinitely held.  More importantly, though, term limits are a means to establish rotation in the body politic and thereby reduce the ongoing (and necessarily hidden) stigma of financial quid pro quo as it pertains to any particular candidate.  Allow me to explain.

Many argue that term limits in Congress would actually result in more candidates being in need of more money, thereby increasing the odds of financial quid pro quo deals with corporate money to purchase elections.  I do not disagree with this notion, per se, however, the point is being missed.   The purpose of term limits for Congress is not to stop the practice of financial quid pro quo, for that ought properly to be the goal of campaign finance reform and lobby reform as above described.  Rather, the function of term limits is to reduce the effect financial quid pro quo arrangements have on our bicameral legislature as a whole and the independent judgment of our elected officials. 

All things being equal, all candidates face the same dilemma:  raise a lot of money from whomever you think might support you or loose to the other candidate willing and/or able to raise more money than you.  This dilemma rings equally as true for incumbent as well as challengers.  Therefore, it follows that the risk of financial quid pro quo is not effected by term limits since the type of candidate, incumbent or challenger, is irrelevant.  However, the existence of a financial quid pro quo, as it pertains to the independent judgment of our elected officials, is in fact more and more destructive the longer that particular elected official remains in office. 

Why? 

Say Joe Smith is elected to his first term in the Senate with enormous financial support from the Tobacco industry.  Basically, he is told that the money will continue to flow so long as he does not vote to make cigarettes illegal or raise the sales tax imposed on their products – a financial quid pro quo.  He can never admit to accepting the money under these terms, less face public humiliation, reprimand, and possible impeachment.  So, he keeps quiet.  Next election cycle, the tobacco industry can now basically blackmail him by 1) threatening to pull their financial support; or 2) releasing somehow to the public, his accepting of a bribe.  Senator Smith keeps quiet.  Third election cycle, then the fourth, fifth, sixth and so on, and the financial quid pro quo line has gotten longer and the noose around the Senator’s neck tighter.  As a result, the special interests of the Tobacco Industry are held higher than Senator Smith’s constituents.  As are the special interests of a growing legion of lobbies which expands the longer he stays in power. 

Whereas, should term limits be imposed on Congress, Senator Smith, in the above example, could not be held under the thumb of any particular lobby for an indefinite timeframe.  With a continuous rotation of Congress, lobbies would be forced to continuously fight for the attention and support of our elected officials – a reality which would foster competition between the special interests (democracy 101) and would also curtail any particular industry’s ability to have an “inside man” ad infinitum by climbing into the pockets of any individual representative and simply staying there.  Lastly, as for Senator Smith, he would be more likely to vote on principle than on special interests if he was barred from being a career politician.

There are a number of arguments commonly posited in opposition to term limits in Congress.  Summarized, they are as follows:

             1. Term limits remove the ‘good’ politicians along with the ‘bad’.

            2. Term limits reduces voter choice.

            3.  Term limits result in a loss of experience in Congress.

            4.  Term limits will increase the power and influence of staff and  lobbies.

Specifically, in regards to the loss of ‘good’ politicians.  Admittedly, this would be a side-effect of term limits.  However, I’d argue that any such loss would be fully offset by the fact that incumbency would be removed as an obstacle for countless motivated, intelligent candidates to add to the value of our government.

Still, some will argue as follows:  If Ted Kennedy is my Senator, and he has been in office for as long as I can remember, and I am happy with his performance, why should I be limited in my choice to vote for him again?  Also, Mr. Kennedy is extremely powerful and therefore able to bring home the pork – I don’t want him gone!

In regards to any particular voter, such as the above hypothetical constituent of the late Senator Kennedy – he has a valid interest in continuing to vote Kennedy into office.  Why would he vote Kennedy out of office if he’s bringing home the public works projects, etc., that provide jobs for himself and his neighbors? 

The problem is this:  Representatives and Senators in the Congress are there to represent the interests of their constituents.  However, as is evidenced by the ever-expanding use of the Commerce Clause, Congress is also charged with regulating the nation as a whole.  That second charge is unduly influenced by an entrenched seniority with the power to appropriate pork barrel funding of special interest projects to regions without proper regard for the needs of the entire national constituency actually paying for the proposed project.   It is beneficial to the state for their official to have tenure, but it is equally as, if not more detrimental to the nation as a whole. 

As to term limits reducing voter choice.   While term limits will, in fact, remove the ability to vote for an incumbent who has maxed out his or her terms, voters will actually benefit from increased choice. The fact is that most voters are being deprived of real choice when over 98% of incumbents win against voter apathy.  By infusing new blood into the system, voters will have new candidates, not career politicians to vote for and, hopefully, will be galvanized by new candidates in touch with the real world.

Will term limits result in a dearth of knowledge and experience in Congress and increase the power of staff, bureaucracy, and lobbyists?  To the contrary, it would remove entrenched staff, bureaucracy, and lobbyists as above discussed, and would encourage the the influx into Congress of a multitude of untainted and eager Americans as legislators, staff or lobby, alike – all probably less likely to be bowled over by special interests and embedded staffs, bureaucracies and lobbies.

The small business owners of America, the employers of over 50% of the population, having endured through the inefficiencies, opportunities and disadvantages inherent in today’s global market competition, and how government over-regulation or under-regulation effects the bottom line, would suddenly throw their hats into the ring.   These new, intelligent minds could renew our democracy, reinvigorate us to vote, and usher in a new era in government where we hold true to our Constitution and the sage foresight of our founding fathers to pursue the promise of our freedom in the face of today’s adversities. 

And, if necessary, these new representatives could always call on the sage advice, knowledge and experience of any faithful and former colleague, staff member or lobby.  After all, what are the dethroned incumbents going to do, hang up when a “newbie” comes to Congress?  I suppose if they did, that might tell us a little something about their true desires for power.  Concomitantly, new politicians are less likely to have the knowledge necessary to exploit the system for personal gain and are more skeptical of lobbyists and special interests.

That is not to say that the experience of those in today’s Congress is not substantial and often of critical importance.  Certain levels of tenure, I believe, are in fact healthy and necessary to the proper function of a bicameral legislature operating within the complexities of the 21st Century.  Certain levels of clearance and closely held government secrets, are perhaps not best for freshmen representatives to hold, for example.  In many respects, such as is in the case in foreign policy, it takes multiple terms to gain proficiency as a true leader on any given subject matter properly under their jurisdiction.

As such, I believe it is proper that any term limits imposed on Congress should not reduce terms in the House of Representatives at all, but should be reduced to two terms (12 years) in the Senate.

As the nauseating battle over the debt ceiling unfolded this summer, we were once again witness to the ostensible veto power the Senate has over the President’s agenda, and more importantly, over the House of Representatives.  Bill after proposed bill has been dead on arrival, why?  Because the bills proposed in the House of Representatives by congressmen taking the interests of their individual state constituents into foremost consideration, are killed by the Senate: a body comprising of only two senators from each state and thereby less capable of representing the regional interests of the state and more concerned with the effect any given decision has on the whole on the United States.

A two term restriction on senators will alleviate the corrupting influence special interests have on the regional interests of individual states.  Many corporations, unions, (factions) operate in multiple states, not to mention globally, and their interests often are not aligned with the desires of any particular state or region.  But when they control the re-election of a Senator, one of only two from each state – we soon find that the Senators are voting in favor of the faction’s special interest, despite the effect it may have on a particular region, even the Senator’s own state.  However, loosen the length of that financial string tied into the Senator’s pocket by implementing a two term restriction, and that Senator will be more likely to vote his conscience and not to the detriment of his state.  More importantly, that Senator, again, only one of two from his state, will not be drowned out by Senators from across the nation with divergent special interests tied with twenty year long strings to wallets thick with money.

Whereas, maintaining the status quo of no term limits in the House of Representatives will ensure that the level of expertise needed in Congress remains.  Further, each state will have a greater voice in what happens in their state, as the Senators will not be bought and told to vote contrary to their state’s interests for sake of the “interests of the multi-state faction.”  Representatives will find a more receptive floor in the Senate, and by reducing the influence special interests can have on the Senate, the individual states can enact regulation at a local, state, and national level, with far less restriction. 

The result – a bicameral legislature that is in greater tune with the concerns of the constituents it represents.  The voices from main street will be louder, and the problems of one region will be dealt with by that region, more efficiently, and with less deliberation and less red tape.  The result will be to reduce the size of government!

For let me be clear – the best way to guard against corruption in the Federal Government is to REDUCE THE POWER OF THE GOVERNMENT.  Returning power to the individual states, as intended by the Constitution, is the answer to how we cripple corruption in Congress.  As James Madison himself wrote in Federalist Paper #10, the key to guarding against the insidious nature of factions is not in eliminating the causes of faction, for that would require the destruction of liberty.  The key to removing the corrosive vice grip lobbying has on our current body politic, is found in reducing the size of government and implementing term limits in the Senate – thereby controlling the effect factions have on the decisions made in the United States Congress. 

TO ALL MY READERS, HAVE A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR.  PLEASE STAY TUNED FOR CHAPTER FOUR: THE ROLE OF RELIGION IN GOVERNMENT, WHICH I WILL BE RELEASING NEXT WEEK.

CHAPTER THREE: (part Three of Four)

CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM

As stated in the previous section of this chapter – I believe there are three distinct avenues through which the corrupting weight of corporate money on the federal legislative process can be pacified:

  1. Lobbying Reform;
  2. Campaign Finance Reform; and
  3. Term Limits

I will tackle each proposed course in order, analyzing the need for each, the debates surrounding them, and then make specific proposals respectively.  I continue today with:

Campaign Finance Reform:

“The polluting effect of money in election campaigns…[c]oncentrated wealth . . . threaten to distort political campaigns and referenda…[t]he voices of individual citizens are being drowned out [by the] unholy alliance of big spending, special interests, and election victory.”

 — Skelly Wright, “Money and the Pollution of Politics: Is the First Amendment an Obstacle to Political Equality?” Columbia Law Review 82 (1982): 614, 622.

The deluge of corporate and union money into federal, state and local campaigns is a very real impediment to the individual’s ability to voice his or her concerns within America’s existing political construct.  An ordinary individual – not rich beyond description or backed by corporate treasury, simply cannot voice their outlook on any given issue via the endorsement of an elected official when their meager contributions are stacked against the piles of capital contributed by corporations and unions.  Yet, while this inequity seems so clear prima facie, it actually proves nauseatingly difficult to regulate for the same reason it is difficult to curtail the influence of lobbies.

Let me first begin by discussing two of the oft proposed legislative reforms aimed at reforming campaign finance: (1) Political Action Committee (PAC) expenditure bans; and (2) Soft Money limits.

Unfortunately, these, and many other proposed reforms, tend to run afoul of the protections afforded individuals and corporations/unions (groups of individuals) by the First Amendment. 

A Political Action Committee (PAC) is an organization formed by business, labor, or other special-interest groups to raise money and make contributions to the campaigns of political candidates or parties whom they support.

The reforms pertaining to PAC expenditure bans typically center around banning all expenditures by and contributions to PACs for the specific purpose of influencing elections for federal office.

Remember that in Buckley, though, the Supreme Court held that the only legitimate and compelling government interest in restricting campaign contributions and expenditures sufficient to satisfy the test of strict scrutiny is the government’s concern in preventing corruption or the appearance of corruption.  The Court further defined corruption narrowly as entailing a financial quid pro quo (dollars for political favors).

Despite their laudable goals, advocates for PAC expenditure bans can really only offer vague justifications for the proposed reforms.   Understandably, they complain of an unresponsive government, a political process that has grown increasingly mean-spirited, and decry elected officials who listen more to lobbyists than to their own constituents. While this criticized “influence” is conspicuous, constitutionally speaking, it does not pass as a justification for the proposed reform in that it falls short of the Supreme Court’s test of strict scrutiny in that it fails to allege the existence or appearance of any specific corruption. 

Knowing deep down in the pit of my stomach the corrupting influence the infusion of money has on our body politic, I wish it were not the case that the list of grievances cited by the advocates of PAC expenditure bans simply do not amount to corruption as the Supreme Court has defined it.  Yet, we must always be deliberative in our process and step back in this instance to realize that we cannot advocate the infringement of one group’s right to speech by dint of a perceived or vague inequity any more than we would desire our own freedoms curtailed without concrete justification.  

What of reducing the PAC contribution limit to $1,000 as some advocate should the outright PAC ban be invalidated as above anticipated?  First off, I doubt that any politician would be corrupted by a single contribution of $5,000 (current maximum).  As such, the interest that the contribution reduction would serve is merely curtailing the perceived dominance and influence of PACs in the political process.  Once again, then, the First Amendment will not allow for such a restriction as it serves a government interest that has never been adjudicated as either legitimate or compelling.

Second, I would also add that a similar unintended consequence would arise if PAC contributions were limited just as did arise as a result of the Federal Election Campaign Act’s ceilings on individual contributions to specific candidates.  What interest would be served by rendering it that much more difficult than it presently is for candidates to raise money? In this age where candidates are forced to raise funds day in and day out, candidates would hardly be less distracted by fundraising if they had to raise money from an even greater array of people as a result of the smaller amounts that any one PAC may contribute.

What of soft money reform? 

Hard money is contributed directly to a candidate and is therefore regulated by law in both source and amount, and monitored by the Federal Election Commission.  Soft money, on the other hand, is contributed to the political party as a whole, supposedly for the purposes of party building and other grass roots activities not directly related to the election of specific candidates.  As soft money is not supposed to be used for specific candidate advocacy, it is not regulated by FECA.  However, the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (also known as the McCain-Feingold Act) prohibited unregulated contributions to national party committees.

Advocates of campaign finance reform often assert that soft money is the most corrosive in American politics today and typically push for barring federal officeholders, candidates, and national political parties from accepting unregulated soft contributions.  They also advocate subjecting all election-year expenditures and disbursements by political parties, including state and local parties that could affect the outcome of a federal election and also including expenditures for voter registration, get-out-the-vote drives, and any communication that identifies a federal candidate, to the full range of federal regulations.

Reformers want to ban soft money because it undeniably invites the wholesale evasion of the contribution limits now in place by allowing corporations that would not otherwise be permitted to contribute to candidates’ campaigns to make large soft-money donations to political parties.  Yet, given that soft money cannot be used to advocate the election or removal of any particular candidate from office, it is again difficult to establish a link between soft-money contributions and the appearance or reality of quid pro quo candidate corruption that alone provides a constitutional predicate for regulation.

 Again, this issue comes back to Buckely.  Regulating speech other than express advocacy of the election of particular candidates, the Supreme Court said, “would create intractable vagueness problems and cause unacceptable chilling of protected, issue-oriented political speech.”  In other words, such an overreaching ban on soft money contributions would stifle speech regarding controversial political issues and the qualities of government policies, resulting in an abridging of the exact type of speech the First Amendment is meant to protect.

Enter the Supreme Court’s 1996 decision in Colorado Republican Federal Campaign Committee v. FEC, which held limits on independent expenditures by political parties (expenditures not coordinated with any candidate) to be unconstitutional.  Well, if individuals are not capped in their expenditures, it follows logically that the Court will eventually determinate that party spending on political activity cannot be limited, whether or not coordinated with any particular candidate, and also that contributions to the party by PACs or otherwise, will also be immune from regulation.

And then came the starkest example of the Supreme Court’s determination to defend the principles of the First Amendment as it pertains to campaign finance reform.  In its January, 2010 decision in Citizens United v. FEC, the Supreme Court struck down sections of the McCain-Feingold Act and overturned a 20-year-old ruling that had previously prohibited corporations and unions from using money from their general treasuries to produce and run their own campaign ads.

The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, (BCRA/McCain-Feingold Act), amended FECA to ban national political party committees from accepting or spending soft money contributions. While the legislation was challenged in McConnell v. Federal Election Commission (2003), and again in Federal Election Commission v. Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc. (2007), most of the act remained unscathed with only parts being effectively, though not formally, invalidated.  The particular provision at issue in Citizens United, however, was Section 203 of the BCRA, which prohibited corporations and unions from using their general treasury funds to make independent expenditures for speech that is an “electioneering communication” or for speech that expressly advocates the election or defeat of a candidate.  

By the terms of the Act, an electioneering communication was defined as “any broadcast, cable, or satellite communication” that “refers to a clearly identified candidate for Federal office” and is made within 30 days of a primary election, and that is “publicly distributed,” which in “the case of a candidate for nomination for President . . . means” that the communication “[c]an be received by 50,000 or more persons in a State where a primary election . . . is being held within 30 days.”

The facts in Citizens United were as follows:  Citizens United, a nonprofit corporation, released a documentary critical of then-Senator Hillary Clinton, as she sought Presidential nomination as candidate for the Democratic National Party. Anticipating that it would make the documentary available on cable television through video-on-demand within 30 days of primary elections, Citizens United produced television ads but was concerned about possible civil and criminal penalties for violating the BCRA should they air them.  As such, Citizens United sought declaratory and injunctive relief, which they appealed all the way to the Supreme Court, arguing that that the BCRA was unconstitutional as applied to the documentary. 

In its decision the Court pointed out that it had previously recognized that the First Amendment applies to corporations, (First Nat. Bank of Boston v. Bellotti, 435 U.S. 765), and extended the protection to the context of political speech, (NAACP v. Button, 371 U.S. 415).  The Court remembered that it had invalidated FECA’s expenditure ban, which applied to individuals, corporations, and unions, because it failed to serve any substantial governmental interest in stemming the reality or appearance of corruption in the electoral process.  However, the Court also had to contend with its 1990 decision in Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, 494 U.S. 652, where it upheld a corporate independent expenditure restriction, bypassing Buckley by recognizing a new government interest in preventing “the corrosive and distorting effects of immense aggregations of [corporate] wealth . . . that have little or no correlation to the public’s support for the corporation’s political ideas.”

The court overruled its previous decision in Austin, stating as follows: “The First Amendment prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for engaging in political speech, but Austin’s antidistortion rationale would permit the Government to ban political speech because the speaker is an association with a corporate form…Political speech is indispensable to decision-making in a democracy, and this is no less true because the speech comes from a corporation…This protection is inconsistent with Austin’s rationale…First Amendment protections do not depend on the speaker’s financial ability to engage in public discussion…Distinguishing wealthy individuals from corporations based on the latter’s special advantages of, e.g., limited liability, does not suffice to allow laws prohibiting speech…Under the antidistortion rationale, Congress could also ban political speech of media corporations.”

As result of this constitutional rubric, it is quite clear that any restriction aimed at limiting  access to politicians, such as by way of enacting ceilings on the amount of money the national parties, PACs or even corporations can spend on a campaign add, for instance, would likely be considered by the court as a direct and substantial restriction on the ability of candidates and citizens (or a group of citizens represented by that PAC or corporation) to engage in protected political expression.  As such, no law abridging such rights will likely stand. 

With this matrix in mind, some have proffered the following as a means to accomplish campaign finance reform at the federal level without running afoul of the First Amendment:

 All elections at the federal level shall be publicly funded by taxpayer’s dollars.  Each candidate will be entitled to a pre-determined level of capital with which to run their campaign.  Each candidate shall be required to, among other things, obtain a target number of signatures to qualify for the funds.

Admittedly, this general construct is intriguing.  Unfortunately, it won’t work.  To start, it is worth pointing out that any such system of campaign finance would have to be crafted with extreme care to guard against unintended consequences.  For instance, we could easily create a slippery slope in the process of determining who is and is not eligible for the public funds.   By making it too hard to qualify for the funds, we likely would disenfranchise some and by making it too easy to qualify for the funds, we could bankrupt the system.

 Such a publicly funded system would arguably address the directly corrosive effect lobbying and campaign fundraising is allowed to have on the political process. 

Nevertheless, I posit that such a system is constitutionally obtrusive and would, in reality, do little to remedy the iniquity.

While public funding of campaigns would not place any restriction on individual and corporate expenditures in violation of constitutional precedent, it would place that very same restriction on the candidate.  This already runs afoul of case law.

More importantly, establishing public funding of campaigns in an effort to skirt the rigors of strict scrutiny would do absolutely nothing to stop individuals, corporations, PACs, etc., from spending as they desire, in any amount, advocating issues and party platforms.  The result would be one where a candidate is allotted a pittance via public funding of his or her campaign and then would be at the mercy of their party to back them.  Why?  Because if the party did not back them, they’d back another candidate and flood the airwaves with millions of dollars worth of “propaganda” carefully designed to walk that fuzzy line between issue and candidate advocacy.  The natural result: every candidate will pine for the backing of their political party, Democrat or Republican alike. 

All such a system will do is make the national parties that much more powerful by making them the bankrollers of campaigns and putting candidates squarely in their pockets.  Whatever deals the party has made with the lobbies, corporations or PACs would have to be abided by the candidate if he or she were to have any hope of obtaining the candidacy, much less win re-election.   

So, where do we go from here? 

It is important to note that in the wake of the Buckley decision, where campaign contributions have ceilings, candidates can no longer raise money in the traditional, relatively efficient way of attracting large donations from a small number of donors.  As an unforeseen consequence, candidates are now forced to campaign day in and day out, year after year, in order to amass disorienting numbers of small contributions.  It’s no wonder nothing gets done in government!

Campaign spending must then be regulated with the aim of reducing candidate fundraising chores in lieu of the goal of restricting political expression.  Regulation with fundraising control as a rationale for spending limits is constitutionally defendable because the harm remedied by curtailment is not the speech itself, but the effect the necessitated campaigning has on the candidate and the candidate’s ability to perform his or her elected duties.

With this reasoning in mind, and remaining fully aware of the corrupting influence money is having on our body politic, I proffer the following as a means to accomplish campaign finance reform at the federal level without running afoul of the First Amendment:

By doing two things: 1) placing a relatively high cap, but a cap nonetheless, on the amount candidates can raise and spend per election; and 2) requiring full disclosure of the source of those funds, we can force candidates to choose wisely amongst their donors and the “strings” attached to those dollars. 

Admittedly, this restriction on the amount of money a candidate can spend on a political communication during a campaign would reduce the quantity of any particular candidate’s expression.  However, such a spending cap would entail only a marginal restriction upon the candidate’s ability to engage in free communication for it would permit them to raise and spend a relatively large amount and would not regulate the content of the candidate’s speech. 

This form of regulation, then, would be content-neutral and, as such, only intermediate scrutiny would be necessary in the review of its constitutionality.  Applying the O’Brien test: the law would serve the substantial government interest of preserving the integrity of the democratic process.  Though intermediate scrutiny does not require the law to be the least restrictive means of curtailing the content-neutral speech, this law would be narrowly tailored to govern the actions of a finite group – candidates. 

Candidates, I would argue, are vying for the opportunity to serve the republic, and as incumbent or hopeful public officials, such a spending cap restriction is no less reasonable than the fiduciary duties imposed on professionals in the prosecution of their vocation.  Lastly, the law would leave open alternative means of communication in that the candidates would in no way be forbidden to attend any further galas or fundraisers where they may be given an opportunity to speak to the public at large once their “cap” is met, so long as it is not for the narrow purpose of raising money for their campaign.  The law also would not curtail the public’s (individuals, corporations, PACs) ability to expend moneys and invite the candidate as, perhaps, an honorary keynote speaker.

Because campaign finance reform and lobbying reform, as above described, are so fundamentally complex and constitutionally problematic, I believe only small and incremental reforms are possible with respect to either one – that is, barring an amendment to the Constitution.  Given the dire need for reform, I wish this were not the case, but even facing the corrosive effects money is having on our body politic, I can see no legitimate government interest sufficient enough to amend the First Amendment.  Therefore, each reform must be carefully drafted to anticipate strict scrutiny under the law with case precedent always in mind.

CHAPTER TWO: THE ROLE OF GOVERNMENT (part two)

Given all of the above, I have come to a conclusion – an epiphany in the form of a short and simple phrase.  It boils the purpose of government down to one short truism defended by the very history ofAmerica’s birth and the legislative intent behind the framing of our Constitution.  The phrase is straightforward and easy to digest – it is therefore my hope that Republicans can better understand and thusly enact this “sound bite” as an elucidation of the phrase, “small government”.  Without further ado:

The true purpose of any government is to protect, not to do!  This is especially true of the federal government which is meant to act on only certain explicitly defined powers. 

Now, of course, it is near impossible to pare the parameters of appropriate government action into a sound bite, and as such, it is necessary to explain further what it is that I mean if only to avoid being misunderstood.  As previously discussed, the government should act only by the execution of the law.  This is because law, in its purest form, is designed to provide equal justice for all. 

Now, in applying the law, the government has two tools at its disposal, both of which, if wielded unwisely, are extremely dangerous.  The first is force, utilizing the police and military, and everything between.  The second is regulation.

Regulation can be a tricky beast, however.  Over regulation of an industry is undeniably crippling to its ability to produce and compete both in domestic and global markets.  In fact, the process of studying, organizing, preparing and then regulating and fumbling through waves of litigation has impeded American progress at an escalating and alarming rate since the 1940s.  An intricate and growing web of bureaucracy has eroded our great tradition of ingenuity and roll up our sleeve, get it done attitude, and it is why Japan is nearing8,000 milesof high-speed train line while we have only one such line.  Senseless over regulation is why our vast natural gas reservoirs remain veritably untapped and why NASA estimates it will take us twenty-plus years to put a man on the moon again, compared to just nine in the 1960s, before the microchip was even invented.  Regulation, therefore, in many respects, is a problem that must be dealt with ifAmericais to move forward competitively in the global marketplace.

Yet, regulation is necessary!  It has its legitimate purpose, and that purpose is to protect.  To protect against the over zealous, yes, but truly, regulation is properly utilized only when it tells one person or group that it cannot infringe upon the liberties of another.  Regulation properly guards the liberties of all against the desires of any particular group (faction) to directly harm another, or even to act in a way that is reasonably calculated to lead to a great harm to the constituency. 

The formulation of regulation to protect against direct harm is theoretically easier – more “black and white.”  Thou shalt not kill, by way of example.  But, regulation limiting one group from acting in a way that is reasonably calculated to lead to a great harm to the constituency is more difficult.  An example of this latter version of regulation would be a regulation that, because of the moral hazard inherent therein, forbids loan originators from lending to individuals with horrible credit only to turn around and sell that imprudent risk to another institution. 

How do we know when we’ve gone too far in regulating against foreseeable harm in order to protect the many?  At what point is it simply too much regulation, where innovation, indeed progress is halted and an erosion of our American tradition of independent, productive and competitive grit evinces a palpable threat to our future prosperity?  The answer, actually, is quite clear.  

Regulation, properly formulated, warns people that the force of the law will be used against them if they do something untoward.  Regulation, improperly formulated, forces people to do something.

Sometimes it is quite difficult, because of the gray area.  We almost ask our elected officials, if you really think about it, to be prophetic, to foresee impending, even if lurking doom.  But, this is the job of our legislators, is it not?  Every elected official is tasked to be truly judicious and consider, with extreme scrutiny, the merits of any proposed legislation.  Unfortunately, in these days of 2,000+ page bills prepared by staff members at the guidance of lobbyists, we aren’t receiving that level of service from our congressmen. 

Turning back to the 10th Amendment and the legislative intent behind its enactment: When a federal system of government is established wherein the national government is given only defined powers and explicitly forbidden to exercise any other powers, it follows that the federal government should not be permitted to expand through the creation of agencies and programs designed to do that which it was not explicitly granted the power to do. 

Unfortunately, though, the expansion of the federal government is currently escalating at an even greater pace than subsequent to the Great Depression.  The result, as we all are aware, is a government that is hemorrhaging money, building unconscionable debt, and doing so in the provision of wasteful, ineffective and or outright broken systems.

The crisis with regards to our federal government is two fold:  Not only are critical issues not being addressed, we see that those tasks the federal government does take on are handled inefficiently.  The government’s response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina and the BP Oil spill in theGulf of Mexico, for example, exemplifies a federal government stretched too thin, unprepared, and incompetent at doing what is actually in its proper role to perform.

Now, many would respond to the above by simply advocating for the review of government inefficiencies and the development of standard operating procedures designed to cut waste and red tape.  There is no doubt that this is desperately needed, for the government is so wasteful it is mind numbing.  For example, no matter who I ask, not one person seems to be able to adequately answer the following question:  why is it so difficult to fire a government employee? 

Usually, the answer I receive is two pronged – one, its easier to just move them to another agency; and two, there is just too much paperwork, making it time prohibitive.  Well, ever heard of a work at will system where the employer can lay a worker off for reason as well as for no reason, of course with certain restrictions such as discrimination?  I don’t know about you, but I would feel a lot safer and more confident in my government if lazy, unproductive and disingenuous federal employees could actually be fired.  Maybe this would elevate the level of customer service we receive when we call the Internal Revenue Service or visit our local Social Security Office (with all due respect to the many hard working individuals in those agencies).

However, the problem is unfortunately more systemic than can be solved by efficiency evaluation and implementation.  And the problem has nothing to do with Democrats v. Republicans, incompetence, or even corruption, though these factors certainly aggravate the situation.

The problem lies in competing interests and detached government.  The reason why our founding fathers found it prudent to vest the overwhelming majority of government power in the individual states, rather than a central government, was because they had just lived through the reality of a government betrothed to the citizens of Britain over the interests of the citizens of the colonies, and so detached from the colonial realities, it proved tyrannical.

Why is it so important to vest more powers in the state, rather than the federal government?  Didn’t Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison, in the Federalist Papers, advocate for the creation of a central government to unify the states into one nation better able to guard against the dangers from foreign force and influence, mediate dissention and hostilities between the states, and safeguard against domestic insurrection and faction? Well, yes, but these were arguments to forge a union in lieu of America disintegrating into a number of confederacies with competing interests, less capable of defending against foreign interests and other pressures as a result of infighting much the same as was the reality of the warring city-states in ancient Greece.  Further, they were arguments in support of explicit powers to be granted to a central government.  They certainly were not arguments in support of granting all or even vast power to the federal government.

It is prudent to vest powers in the state governments because a federal government must take into consideration the competing interests of all the states in order to make a determination as to how it will regulate any given matter.  To be fair, the federal government must consider the reasonable interests of the citizens of not justCalifornia,New YorkorVirginia, but must consider the voice of every person in all 50 states.  In doing so, the government is rightfully endeavoring to be just and representative of its constituents. 

Unfortunately, this venerable undertaking is the exact cause of government inefficiency.  This is where red tape comes from, because, to gather the voices of 300 million, there must be forms.  There must be government employees to categorize these forms, and of course there must be a committee to develop protocols for the procedures to submit, decipher, and consider those forms.  And so on.

After millions and millions are spent, a system is finally implemented.  And what do we get?  We get a system that addresses little if any of the particular concerns brought to Congress’ attention by the interested localities, but instead mandates in a way that theoretically won’t upset any particular group.  The result is a wasteful program that does not address that which it was created to address, or is severely hampered in its philanthropic intent to so do.  The program burdens the entire nation, and therefore is answerable to the entire nation, depriving it of any ability to succinctly address the problems facing the region that originally requested help. 

Why?  Again- human nature!  If I am required to pay for a program, I will require a say in how that program is run.  Multiply that by 300 million, and suddenly thousands ofMainelobster fisherman, through their representatives in Congress, are telling farmers inCaliforniahow to irrigate their crops. What we get is a far off, isolated, but all too interested government engaged in false philanthropy, creating a result contrary to their altruistic purpose.  What we get is a catch-22!

The problems, though, do not stop there.  Unfortunately, and as a direct result of government programs designed to provide for the welfare of all, human nature rears yet another ugly head – entitlement. 

Entitlement programs, as they are sometimes called, are programs that are initially designed to address a particular problem plaguing a region or group of individuals.  The program is created, and, so as to not discriminate, other groups and individuals are granted access to the program upon demand.  The program grows, and grows.  It becomes more and more inefficient, wasteful and ironically, less capable of addressing the concerns of those it is “helping”.  Congress, in its right mind, then, may attempt to cut spending on that program. 

But woe to the Congressman who votes to cut spending for such a program.  He or she will be maligned for cutting funding to schools, welfare, veterans aid, or whatever program is to be cut.  There will be riots in the streets.  We are witness to this inGreece,France,England– all overEurope, and it has already begun here in theUnited States.

If a Republican votes to cut a program, the Democrat opponent will campaign on a platform crucifying him for cutting off the funds, and vice versa.  Why?  First, because insofar as political posturing is concerned, it is successful.  It is propaganda 101.  But, to truly answer the question, I find it prudent to further analyze why these programs become entitlement programs.

An entitlement program is a federal program that guarantees a certain level of benefits to persons or entities who meet requirements set by law, such as Social Security, farm price supports or unemployment benefits. If an individual or group meets the legal requisites for receipt of government aid, it leaves no discretion with Congress on how much money to appropriate.  Moreover, some entitlements carry permanent appropriations.

The reason why government programs are nearly impossible to dismantle, whether or not they fit into the narrow definition of an entitlement program, is because they breed dependency into the minds and hearts of those they “help”.

Once you become dependent upon something or someone else doing a particular thing for you, it is human nature to rely upon that external force to always do it for you.  Why should I save money for retirement if the government is doing it for me?  Why should I work if the government will ostensibly pay me not to work?  Going back to the concept of plunder, and why government is necessary to guard against man’s animalistic instinct to take from others instead of producing for themselves – we plunder and we sit idly while things, gadgets, robots and governments do for us because, just like water, it is in our nature to follow the path of least resistance. 

Now, fast forward five, ten, twenty or thirty years into the future to when people have become entirely dependent upon any particular program, and try to dismantle that program.  Good luck!  Those dependent upon the program will riot in the streets and fight tooth and nail for that which they feel they are entitled to.

Analogy time! One of my favorite channels to watch is the Discovery Channel.  Recently, they aired a series titled Life, in which Oprah Winfrey narrates to some of the most visually stunning high-definition footage of the world that surrounds us.  In one particular episode which analyzed the intricacies of mammals and how we’ve evolved to become the dominant species on the planet, we find ourselves following the lives of myriad animals ranging from dolphins and whales to meerkats and cheetahs.  The thesis of the episode is that the key to mammal’s success as a class is not just in the size of our brains, but actually results from our exhibiting the most complex social behaviors out of any in the animal kingdom.  In other words, we are successful because we live and die by the strength and weakness of our families and our capacity to use and share wisdom across generations allows us to flourish.

At one point, we find ourselves learning of the close-knit family dynamic which shapes the African Elephant’s ability to rule the landscape.   We follow a heard of six or seven elephants lead by a matriarch, the oldest and wisest female, and her daughter which has just birthed a one day old baby elephant.  Soon, the baby elephant gets stuck in waste deep mud at the edge of his first watering hole.  The mother quickly comes to the rescue, extending a trunk to push the baby elephant out of the mud.  Unfortunately, she is only pushing her baby deeper and deeper into the mud.  Finally, the matriarch pushes the mother out of the way and simply lets the baby figure out how to escape the mud on his own.

This tale of a baby elephant’s struggle is a perfect analogy for our federal government.  You see, despite the mother’s good intentions, it was best for her to let her baby figure it out on his own.  Let’s assume she helped him out.  What would happen the next time he got stuck in the mud, or the time after that?  If the baby elephant could always rely on his mother to get him out of the mud, he would understandably become dependent upon it and never have the incentive or chance to figure it out for himself.  Then, one day, he gets stuck in the mud and his mom isn’t around, resulting in him baking to death, unable to escape the sun’s rays to shade or water.

Likewise, what happens when the federal government is unable to bankroll inefficient entitlement programs through the expansion of our deficit?  All those people so dependent upon the program will be left out to dry. 

Moreover, just as the mother elephant made things worse for the baby elephant, the federal government, through action, often makes it harder for individuals and localities to efficiently govern and produce for themselves as they need and see fit. 

Understanding the dangers of a strong, vast and expanding federal government in the context of today’s modern politic, and the roadblock it places in the path toward more perfect liberty and justice for all is essential to the rebirth of the Republican platform.  The federal government must be reduced in size and efficiencies implemented post-haste.  

But what of the critical issues facing our nation?  For let me be clear- the challenges facing our nation are many, and they absolutely be met!  It is not sufficient to argue that government should be smaller, that deficit spending must be choked off, and in that same breath ignore the critical issues of our time.  It is the failure to meet these critical issues, decade after decade, that has lead us to this pivotal moment in our nation’s history.

Now is not the time to cut government funding, many will argue.  How, they will ask, can we tackle the mounting problems facingAmericawhile simultaneously reducing the size of the federal government?  The Democrats will argue that the issues cannot be met without the further extension of the federal government’s long arm into growing jurisdictions or an emergency increase in the debt ceiling.  But they are dead wrong!

The answer is found in our very own backyards, our local town, city and county governments and most of all, in our state governments.  As was the intention of our founding fathers, the true power in government to effect change is laid in the state.  For it is each locality and each state that best knows how to govern the intricacies of the varying geographies within their boarders. 

Unfortunately, the current paradigm of American governance has shifted to where the federal government increasingly administers programs that should be left to the states, either by holding the operation of those programs ransom with the carrot that is federal aid, or through the outright commandeering of those functions.  We are increasingly delving into a system of governance where the reality is that of the American management of states.  Instead, as was the legislative intent behind the 10th Amendment, it not only should, but absolutely must be theVirginia management of Virginia, New York of New York, California ofCalifornia, and so on! 

Yet, states as well as the individuals comprising each state are looking to the federal government to do more and more.  Congressmen and Senators are increasingly taking the burdens ofAmericaon their shoulders, directing the awesome force of federal government at the states in reaction to the simple fact that states are failing in the tasks provided them, such as the administration of proper education.  And so, the Democrats have taken up liberty’s torch, having seen that so much is being left undone at state and local levels, erroneously using the interstate commerce clause of the United States Constitution to mandate what should be done. 

And it is not just the Democrats who increasingly are seeing it fit for the federal government to engage in the false philanthropy of providing for the welfare of all through government mandate.  The Republicans, though their appropriations are aimed at different pockets, are equally as guilty of using the treasury coffers to fund inefficient programs outside the proper scope of federal government.

The Republicans have lost their way.  Deep down, in our stomachs, we have always known the flawed thinking of “socialism”.  We’ve read Orwell’s masterpiece, “1984”, we’ve been taught about the dangers of communism, but we’ve lost the tongue for being able to express what we even mean by “small government” in an age when government is rapidly expanding, often at our direction.

In order for the Republican party to regain its strength as more than just a viable party, but one that actually leads this great nation once again to prosperity, our platform must begin with revolutionizing local and state politics.  The core of American politics must be infused with a revitalized and re-focused Republican platform that understands that the role of government is to regulate in order to protect, not to do everything for its constituents.  This mentality will enable the implementation of fiscal responsibility in state and local budgets as well as empower those governments to more succinctly tackle the critical issues facing their respective regions.

Why is this so important?  In fiscal year 2010, state governments collectively ran a budget deficit approaching $55 billion; the result of both Democrats and Republicans allowing government to expand into improper arenas.  In doing so, we are thereby strapping state governments in their ability to properly perform the functions they ought to be performing. 

This year, in particular, the near bankruptcy of the majority of our states is analogous to the mother elephant and her newborn stuck in the mud.  The states, addicted to federal funds, almost unanimously turned to Troubled Asset Relief Funds and other sources of bailout moneys to delay their bankruptcies.  But, now, the federal government is increasingly unable, or at least unwilling to borrow money fromChinato underwrite the states and pull them from the mud.  What now?

There is absolutely no question that the federal government has the authority as well as the duty to govern in certain arenas.  But, it is with the states that the majority of power must remain if we, as Americans, are to continue to honor the intentions of our sage founders.

Empowering each region to budget for that which is of greater importance to their constituents will allow each region the flexibility to tackle their laundry list of problems in the order they see fit.  The result – pockets of happy constituents popping up across counties, cities, towns and states.  Further, as each of these local and state governments are directly accountable by their respective taxpayers as to money spent and a proximal demand for results directly effecting the region, it stands to reason that these governments will have more incentive to efficiently and expeditiously address the relevant issues than the federal government could plausibly ever have. 

This will further result in each locality creating new and innovative ways to tackle the issues plaguing their region.  One county or one state may develop craftier solutions than the other, and as capitalism goes, the next state over will be free to build upon the advances of the next.  This is the true American way.  The alternative, nationwide, top-down standard operating platforms – the trend of today, not only stifles innovation, but also sets in stone today’s system(s) as the best we can hope for.

As Republicans, we must rise from the ashes, begin at the grass roots, and institute fundamental change in every locality in this nation.  We must change politics from the inside out, from its core, starting with town, city and county government, right to the doorsteps of our state capitals. We must fight to free local and state government from the strings of entitlement programs and a host of inefficient systems, thereby bringing state budgets into fiscal responsibility. 

As the states become more fiscally responsible and resolutely focused on tackling the critical issues facing the residents within their boarders, there will be less for the federal government to do, freeing up the treasury to invest in what it properly should and providing the necessary opportunity to reduce the federal deficit.  Then, and only then, will there be less of a need for states to reach out to the federal government for aid.  Best of all, perhaps, utilizing state and local governments as they were originally intended will work to remove the Democrats’ desire to spend on false philanthropy from Capital Hill.

CHAPTER TWO:

THE ROLE OF GOVERNMENT 

“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.”

– 10th Amendment to the Constitution (1791)

Tour the vastness of America, from sea to shining sea, and you will find that Republicans on the West Coast will almost universally answer the same as Republicans on the East Coast when asked what they believe is the core principle of the Republican platform.  “Small Government”, they will answer.

This central belief is echoed in every Young Republican or County Republican Committee meeting across this great land.  On our campaign brochures and bumper stickers you will usually find key phrases such as “cut government spending”, or “Washington is spiraling out of control”.  In one form or another, the concept finds its way into nearly every Republican campaign.

But what do we mean when we say government needs to be smaller?  At first blush, you may think this to be a rhetorical question.  But it is not!

I ask the question because, unfortunately, as Republicans, and certainly as a nation, we’ve forgotten the answer and seem to remember only the slogan.  So many of us no longer fully understand the power of this political “sound-bite”, and it is evidenced by the way we have been leading our constituents. 

During the Bush presidency, government spending at the federal level increased at a historic pace, and concomitantly, the deficit spiraled out of control.  Did the federal government shrink?  Now there’s a rhetorical question! 

Now, when I bring this up at the county meetings, my fellow Republicans are quick to point out that President Obama is much worse, and Nancy Pelosi is tantamount to a socialist antichrist.  The disdain expressed for the Democrats is visceral.  And, to be frank, I find it distasteful. 

I find it repugnant because the former affability and deference in politics is not just missing, but will soon prove extinct when the hatred of the “other side” is systemic, right down to the grass roots, as a preached and learned incantation.  What’s worse is that the ones who lose out are the people.  “We must retake America,” my fellow Republicans will shout- and I agree, but they go further to rant that the Democrats are liars, socialists, communists, evil.  This is plain ridiculous. The fact that they are misguided does not make them evil. 

It is necessary that we, as Republicans, break free from this need to vilify the Democrats.  This is necessary for many reasons, but of paramount importance is the fact that the problem in government does not stem only from the Democrats’ misguided ways.  Unfortunately, the problem lies on both sides of the isle.  Both are spending too much and doing so while presiding over the expansion of our federal government into arenas entirely outside its appropriate reach.  Both parties are running afoul of the true purpose of government and, as such, it is unacceptable to point out the inequities of the Democratic Party with a blind eye to the problems permeating our own. 

So, back to my “rhetorical” question: What do we mean when we say “small government”?  And to be more succinct, I suppose I should ask – what should we mean?

One answer to the question is rooted in the Bill of Rights.  The 10th Amendment to the Constitution is clear: “The powers not delegated to the United States (Federal Government) by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”  Seems pretty explicit, right?

Thomas Jefferson described the 10th Amendment as “the foundation of the Constitution” and added, “to take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specially drawn … is to take possession of a boundless field of power, no longer susceptible of any definition.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. 

Jefferson’s formulation is where we glean the doctrine of “strict construction”, an adherence to the actual or intended meaning of the language found within the four corners of the Constitution. 

But, just as the definition of the American Dream has proven to be complicated, so too has the doctrine of strict constructionism.  In fact, the meaning of “strict construction,” may be different depending on who uses it and in what context.  A Justice of the Supreme Court asking counsel at oral argument whether a statute should be construed strictly is likely using the term differently than a candidate on the campaign trail using the term as a surrogate for a broader set of conservative values.

The problem with the Republican campaign trail today is that so many of us have not only lost the true understanding of what we mean when we say “small government” but we have also misconstrued the purpose of Jefferson’s words. 

From Nixon to Regan and through the Bush administrations, our Republican presidents have promised to appoint strict constructionist judges to the Supreme Court.  Yet, even Ronald Regan’s 1986 appointee to the Supreme Court, Antonin Scalia, the justice often touted as the intellectual anchor of the conservative wing, and the justice most identified with the term, has himself said that he is “not a strict constructionist and no-one ought to be,” calling the philosophy “a degraded form of textualism that brings the whole philosophy into disrepute.” 

One can understand and even appreciate Justice Scalia’s words as they seem to be a reaction to the political misuse of the term as a coded label to earn votes while simultaneously misrepresenting the true spirit of the philosophy as a theory of Constitutional interpretation.

Again, canvass the whole of the electorate spanning the nation, and innocently, our fellow Republicans will almost universally say that strict constructionism requires that only the exact language found in the Constitution may be followed.  This is wrong!  And the problem with this message being mistaken is that its true definition and meaning absolutely must form the foundation upon which the true and correct Republican platform ought to be re-constructed. 

Instead, strict constructionism is a philosophy that emphasizes judicial restraint and fidelity to the original intended meaning of the Constitution. 

Allow me to give an analogy for clarification:

As an attorney at law, when a client asks me a question to which I do not know the answer (which, by the way, let me point out the rarity of this occasion, wink)… what do I do?  The first thing I do is go into my firm’s library and pull the Virginia Code to look for a statute on point.  I pull the actual book over searching Westlaw or LexisNexis for a very particular purpose: to learn the legislative intent behind the subject statute! 

When I look up a particular code section, I not only get the black letter/strict language of the legislation, but I am also able to read a description of the history behind the enactment of the statute as well as case law on point.  In reading through and understanding the legislative intent behind the strict, stone-etched statute, I am able to extract the full meaning of the codified law.  As a lawyer, this is invaluable. 

The same modus operandi absolutely must be followed in the application of the Constitution to how we, as Republicans, lead this great nation, and promote the varying actions of state and local government in relation to that of the federal government.

When we say, “small government,” in addition to an understanding of the proper purpose of government, whether on a local, state or national level, we must also be conveying the necessity of adherence to the intended meaning of the 10th Amendment as a means to hamper the federal government’s ability to hinder our individual ability to carry forward liberty’s torch.   

Why is this so important?  Because we, as a nation, are losing control.  Individual liberties are being trampled by a federal government expanding at unprecedented speed.  State sovereignty is being usurped through over dependence on the interstate commerce clause.  Deficit spending is out of control, states have become reliant upon federal funding, and the balance of power has shifted, wherein the federal government ostensibly has all the power and the states only those explicitly granted to them.  In different form, and in a different millennium, we are finding a tea party necessary to show our disdain for a tyrannical hand taxing us without properly representing us.

Turning once more to the annals of history, we are thereby able to extract the legislative intent behind the adoption of the 10th Amendment.  And it is vital that we do so, because an understanding of the intended meaning behind these final words in the Bill of Rights educates us as to the true and proper purpose of government under our Constitution.  This precise knowledge is what we as Republicans have lost; and we must regain it in order to empower us to lead by example again.

To begin, one need look no further than the Declaration of Independence itself.  Our decision to absolve ourselves of any allegiance to Great Britain was made in reaction to, “a long train of abuses and usurpations,” by the British Crown, evincing, “a design to reduce them (us) under absolute depotism.”  Jefferson next penned a list of grievances to which petitions for redress had long been unanswered and which established factual evidence of the establishment of an absolute tyranny over the colonies by the British Crown.

The tyranny of a far off government which ruled over the lives of the colonists without regard to justice and the common good, which stripped us of all representation, voice and security, necessitated the waging of the Revolutionary War.  And when our independence was won, we were justly reticent to create a central government to preside over the union of the states, much less grant it powers over their sovereignty. 

This fear of a strong central government was further evidenced by the delay in the endorsement of the Articles of Confederation.  Although the Articles of Confederation were adopted by Congress on November 15, 1777, it was not until March 1, 1781 that Maryland became the final state to sign, thusly forming the union of the states as a single nation for the first time.  The delay was caused by the ongoing war, but also as a consequence of strong public sentiment in opposition to vesting powers in a national government presiding over the sovereign states.  

As a result, Article II of the Articles of Confederation declared that, “each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled.” 

This intent that the central government have few and well defined powers was so universal, in fact, that the government proved too weak to function.  Because the central government had no power to collect taxes, for example, the Articles of Confederation were dissolved and replaced by the Constitution. 

And finally, the history of the ratification of the Constitution itself lends to the legislative intent behind the enactment of the 10th Amendment.  An ideological battle raged between the Federalists and Anti-Federalists who disagreed as to whether a Bill of Rights was even necessary to the ratification of a Constitution which vested powers in a federal government. 

In Federalist Paper 84, Alexander Hamilton asserted that ratification of the Constitution did not mean the American people were surrendering their rights, and, therefore, protections were unnecessary: “Here, in strictness, the people surrender nothing, and as they retain everything, they have no need of particular reservations.”

Anti-Federalists, such as Patrick Henry, on the other hand, publicly argued against the Federalist proposed Constitution as a clear threat to individual rights, expressing fear that the President would become a king much the same as the tyrannical King George from whom they had just won their independence.

The desirability of a Bill of Rights was powerful and widespread, a sentiment the Anti-Federalists capitalized on in the 1788 ratification convention in Massachusetts.  The Federalists were forced to agree to the Massachusetts Compromise permitting delegates with doubts as to the Constitution to recommend amendments to be considered by Congress subsequent to ratification.  Notwithstanding this compromise, North Carolina refused to ratify the Constitution until clear progress was shown toward the codification of a Bill of Rights.

And so, in 1789, the First United States Congress met in New York City’s Federal Hall, first, and foremost, with the task of considering proposed amendments to the Constitution, the majority of which pertained to the protection of individual rights.  As a result, the Bill of Rights, penned by James Madison, and based in large part on George Mason’s Virginia Declaration of Rights, were adopted.

The legislative intent behind the enactment of the Bill of Rights, which includes the 10th Amendment, then, is quite clear. Learning from then recent history, Americans were aware of the dangers a disassociated, central government with vast, undefined and unquestionable powers, posed to the liberty for which they had just fought and won.   They understood the necessity of explicitly outlawing the encroachment by the government onto those liberties, and in doing so, intended to delineate the limits of the federal government’s powers.

Through a long line of Supreme Court rulings, ranging from Wickard v. Filburn, wherein the court ruled that the Congress, via the commerce clause, could regulate the production of wheat on a family farm; to Garcia v. San Antonio Metropolitan Transit Authority, where the court forever changed the standard of review of the constitutionality of a federal law to whether that law is “destructive of state sovereignty or violative of any constitutional provision,” the intended meaning and application of the 10th Amendment to the provision of federal governance has changed drastically.  

However, while many of my contemporaries quibble in the fascinating intricacies of each of these cases and the effects they have on the way in which the federal government goes about its business, I posit that the true meaning of the 10th Amendment, the legislative intent behind its enactment, comes from a historical understanding of the very purpose of government itself.  As such, any “construction” of the 10th Amendment, or the Constitution, and the powers therein granted to the federal government and reserved to the states, absolutely must be based upon the proper purpose of government, and be rooted in a proper understanding of that purpose. 

In other words, I believe the best way to understand the 10th Amendment is to gain an understanding of what law is meant to accomplish and what government’s true and limited purposes ought to be.  This knowledge of the true purpose of government was the antecedent to the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, for without it the founding fathers could never have penned any of the documents as they did, nor would they have structured our system of ordered liberty as they did. 

The legislative intent behind the 10th Amendment, then, is found in an understanding of the role of government.  Moreover, an understanding of the proper purpose of government allows us to regulate how we, as Republicans, promote certain actions as government leaders.

What, then, is the role of government?  What ought to be its purpose and its limits?  As Republicans, we must re-learn the answer to these questions, for it is out of a misguided and ill-informed understanding of the role of government that the Democrats are operating to project what we call “socialism” onto our society.

Government, by very definition, is political direction and control exercised over the actions of the members, citizens, or inhabitants of communities, societies, and states.  This political direction and control is both created and exercised in the application of law.  To understand government, and its proper purpose, then, we must delve even deeper to define law.

Building from history, I again find that it is unnecessary for me to re-invent the wheel when defining law.  In his thesis, The Law, French economist and statesman, Frederic Bastait, defined law as “the organization of the natural right to lawful defense.  It is the substitution of a common force for individual forces.”  He went on to say that, “this common force is to do only what the individual forces have a natural and lawful right to do; to protect persons, liberties, and prosperities; to maintain the right of each, and to cause justice to reign over us all.” 

Government, being the administrator of the law, therefore, can only have, as its purpose, the protection of persons and their liberties and prosperities, and do so through the administration of justice.  It is when the government attempts to do more than this that it not only tramples the rights of some of the constituents it is sworn to protect, it becomes a legal framework for injustice. 

To be more clear, a legal framework for injustice arises when the government, sworn to protect liberty, destroys that liberty through the enactment and execution of laws designed to give government more power than it ought to have.  It is on this slippery slope that the government is able to transfer property in whatever form, land, money, etc., from the person who owns it, without his consent or compensation, to someone else, and do so legally.   And it is well down this slippery slope that our federal government now finds itself.

This, “legal plunder”, as Bestait called it, is born of two roots:  the first is human greed.  Law itself is necessitated by this first root.  And it was the legislative intent of our founding fathers to guard against this greed by creating a system of checks and balances through the division of power amongst the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government.  The second cause of legal plunder grows from the seed of false philanthropy.  Today, though, it has become the mentality of too many, Republicans and Democrats alike, that the government should not only be just, it should also be philanthropic.  The government, for the better part of a century now, has been utilized as a tool to extend welfare to all. 

This is certainly not to say that welfare for all is a bad thing – no, I’m instead pointing out the problem with how this philanthropic ideal is currently being implemented.  Unfortunately, a paradox occurs when the federal government tries to create welfare for all.  Ironically, by taking more and more from the haves, and giving to the have nots (legal plunder), the government makes things worse for everyone. 

Going back to why I find it distasteful when Republicans vilify Democrats:  Given the state of affairs in America; how much has been left undone and needs to be tended to, it is no wonder that the Democrats find it necessary to utilize the government toward social agendas designed to establish a greater welfare for their constituents.  Their “socialist” agendas, I don’t think are born of any hatred for America and the continued prosperity of our people.  To the contrary, they are trying to fight, as they know how, for the continued prosperity of our people.  Their intentions are admirable, not evil, and we, as Republicans, must understand and certainly respect this if we are to ever work in concert with them to properly address the critical issues facing our nation. Simply put, it is not a question of whether these critical issues need to be addressed, rather, it is a question of how!

My applause for the Democrats, therefore, stop there.  The Democrats may not be immoral and plot through malevolent conspiracies, but they are certainly misguided. And, unfortunately, their well-intentioned imprudence has grave consequences, many of which we now face.

The Democrats’ use of the federal government to not only promote, but require social change through federal programs that reach across state boarders into communities and households, is born of false philanthropy.  Many of the ills in our society that these federal programs are intended to address, desperately need to be addressed, no question, but it is not the role of the federal government to address them through ever expanding agencies designed to mediate the welfare of us all.

The problem with socialism and the redistribution of wealth, as policy, is that it not only erases the incentives to innovate, but causes great displacements in capital, labor and even populations as both intended and often as an unintended consequence.

A historical example of this is the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1929 which is commonly considered to be one of the contributing causes of the Great Depression.  The law was passed by Congress to institute the highest tariff in U.S. history.  It taxed thousands of imported items at increased rates with the intent to increase our nation’s revenue on imported commodities.  The idea was to make American goods less expensive than foreign goods, putting money in the pocket of American industry rather than foreign.  Seems like a pretty good “philanthropic” intention, right? 

Unfortunately, foreign nations passed retaliatory tariffs and refused to import many of our leading American exports, such as cars and radios.  Retaliatory tariffs were passed by countless countries and the European continent even went so far as to repudiate its war debt from World War 1.  The result: American exports plunged over 50% from 1929 to 1932.  The unintended consequences, though, were far more extensive. 

The tariff hike crippled leading American industries.  The Act, for instance, spiked the tariff on countless items used in the manufacture of Ford’s and General Motor’s vehicles.  U.S. automakers not only sold fewer cars to Europe as a result of retaliatory tariffs, they also had to pay higher prices for crucial components in their end product.  This cost, of course, was passed on to the American consumer who now had fewer and ironically more expensive options, as well as less money. 

A second historic example arises out of President Roosevelt’s New Deal intended to combat the Great Depression.  In 1933 he succeeded in passing the Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA).  In essence, AAA worked as follows:  some farmers were paid to not plow and produce from part of their land; produce prices were set to pre-depression levels; processors were taxed to pay for the massive cost of the program; and the secretary of agriculture was vested with vast power to set the processing taxes, peg the price of countless commodities and determine how much land farmers should not harvest.

AAA was passed in a philanthropic effort to combat the farm problems exacerbated by the Great Depression.  The problem, boiled down to its roots, was that there were too many farmers producing too much.  Too much?  Here’s how.  Farmers could not sell their farms and move to the cities as they had in the years leading up to the Great Depression as result of the housing crash.  As a result, each farmer produced as much as he could in an effort to sell as much as he could with hopes of earning enough to put food on the table.  Problem was, every farmer was doing that, and the market was saturated, driving prices further and further down.  The economic law of supply and demand was, unfortunately, working against the farmer.

Moreover, the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, which caused the unintended consequence of retaliatory tariffs, meant that foreign nations were no longer buying farmer’s overproduction.

AAA, then, was designed to rein in overproduction by paying farmers not to produce and lift farm prices by setting them to a more affluent period, pre-depression.  But, again, unintended consequence reared its ugly head.

Giving the Secretary of Agriculture the power to make contracts with millions of processors, farmers and distributors, to set prices, levy taxes and legislate parity, resulted in an unprecedented expansion in the Department of Agriculture.  The Washington bureaucrats, in an effort to regulate supply and demand on a national level, and despite their compilation of voluminous data ranging from average acre yield to production aggregates, turned the U.S. from a top food export to a major food importing nation. 

Everything from cotton, corn, and wheat, to pork and beef production in America declined rapidly.  Why?  1) The bureaucrats proved inept at accurately predicting what prices were reasonable, taking into consideration weather variation and world production levels; 2) farmers switched from producing crops set at a low price to higher pegged commodities, and farmed their best acres, leaving fallow their already unproductive acres; and 3) competition between farmers was rendered futile because prices were fixed and kept in parity with the prices of other industrial and consumer products.  While the farmers earned more for their reap, AAA sewed the reality of higher costs and greater scarcity in food and other commodities.  With America still enduring the Great Depression, AAA resulted in many impoverished Americans going hungry.  Also, with fewer commodities being produced and sold, unemployment rose as textile companies were forced to lay off their workers.

Contemporarily, there can be no doubt that the government bailouts in reaction to the financial crisis of 2008 are already producing unintended consequences.  For instance, despite the prolonged “solvency” of many of our lending institutions, very little has trickled down to the consumer and lending has continued to dry. 

Given all of the above, I have come to a conclusion – an epiphany in the form of a short and simple phrase.  It boils the purpose of government down to one short truism defended by the very history of America’s birth and the legislative intent behind the framing of our Constitution.  The phrase is straightforward and easy to digest – it is therefore my hope that Republicans can better understand and thusly enact this “sound bite” as an elucidation of the phrase, “small government”.  Without further ado:

STAY TUNED FOR THE RELEASE OF THE SECOND HALF OF CHAPTER TWO: THE ROLE OF GOVERNMENT!!  THANK YOU FOR READING AND FOR YOUR COMMENTS. 

WHAT I SEE IN AMERICA’S DESPAIR: HOPE!

Across this great land, the faces of the once proud and mighty seem to be weighed down in mounting anxiety.   Our confidence is shot as everything seems to have gone wrong and the outlook appears only a downward spiral.

Unemployment is still over 9% nationwide with 8%+ unemployment expected through 2014.  Commodity inflation is squeezing our pockets as well, with over 1 in 10 Americans on food stamps and 1 in 4 children across the states finds themselves without ample food on a daily basis. In the wake of our nation’s credit downgrade, the stock markets are crashing with fears of a double dip recession, while we the people stop and ask, when did the recession ever end? 

Time Magazine termed the decade from 2000 – 2010 as the “Decade from Hell”, but in 2011, it only seems to be getting worse.  Mother Nature, it seems, is equally disgruntled.  This year alone we have witnessed record breaking blizzards across the east, massive flooding across the Mississippi watershed, record Tornadoes that have taken unimaginable life and caused catastrophic damage, wide-spread drought the likes of which have never been seen, and a heat wave that literally set thousands of record highs across the nation while parts of Texas experienced 57 consecutive days of 100 degrees or higher temperatures.  And least we forget the Tsunami that wiped entire cities from Japan’s coast and plunged them into a nuclear crisis on par with Chernobyl. 

Our nation is facing crisis in every direction; from the war on terror and economic depression, to climate change and educational, institutional and infrastructural decay.  In many ways the shining light on the hill is flickering in the dark, teetering on the brink of a blackening abyss borne of domestic decay and international pressures.  To many, and certainly for me, it’s become palpable.  Something is wrong – worse than normal. 

The sun that once graced the amber waves of grain is graying behind a looming storm of mounting predicament.  There is a measurable sapping of confidence across our land, both in the confidence that our future will be bright and in the confidence our people have in our government as a just institution.  Sleepless nights are replete with the nagging nightmare that America’s decline is inevitable, that the next generation must lower its sights, expect to die younger and endure into a diseased planet.  In the wake of the sub-prime lending scandal, homes have been lost, jobs evaporated, businesses shuttered and families turned upside-down in economic depression.

The reports of massacres the likes of Virginia Tech, Fort Hood and the Tragedy in Tuscon seem to be increasing in regularity and the media continuously bombards us with reports of global warming and looming economic catastrophe.  We find ourselves in the midst of two wars that have collectively endured longer than our nation’s involvement in the Revolutionary, Civil, and both World Wars combined, and with the crisis in Libya added to the shoulders of our over-stretched military.  Globally, we are witness to famine, water shortage, genocides and the spread of tyranny and extremism – none of which seem to have been curtailed by the efforts of those fighting the good fight.

It’s nearly become overwhelming, but in America’s despair, what do I see?  Hope.  I don’t see the inevitable decline into a lesser existence.  I see the strength and wisdom of a society freer than all on this planet – free in a republic to make the changes necessary to tackle the critical issues facing us.  I see hope!

Yet, while there is hope, there must also be action.  And, therein lies our problem.  When the citizens of this nation turn to their political leaders, too often, they find them deaf to their cries or so deeply entrenched in party line, demonizing the other side and virtually factionalizing our nation, rather than uniting it to the common goal of tackling these critical issues.

But, America is too important, and we as a people are too resilient to simply fade into the dark.  What we as a nation stand for: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and as the shining light of the last best hope for the remainder of humanity, must be preserved. 

Our system of government is flawed, but more perfect than any other on this globe.  Therefore it is up to this generation to again pick up liberty’s torch and collectively face the enemies of freedom that lurk in the dark. Let us give the greatest generation a run for its money, for the current status quo, a norm of division, hatred and faction, must be shunned so that we may continue the pursuit of a brighter future for us all.  We must climb back atop that hill and shine the light, embracing our flaws, facing the escalating issues and daunting tasks before us as one nation, under God, with the common goal of tackling them for a more perfect union for our people and for all peoples across this world. 

For it is also a constituent of the American Dream that all who have the privilege of freedom also have the honor and duty to fight for it.

This is precisely why I have written my book – LEADING BY EXAMPLE: RETURNING OUR REPUBLIC TO ITS REVOLUTIONARY ROOTS.  In it, I address the myriad critical issues facing our nation.  More importantly, I have painstakingly researched each subject in order to do much more than most political treatises seem to do these days: I not only diagnose the problem, but take it a step further and propose solutions. 

Therefore, as a gift to my fellow patriots, I am releasing my book for free.  My goal here is not to make millions (though that would be nice), rather, my goal is to help educate and galvanize my fellow Americans to action. 

I will be releasing each chapter, dependent upon size, as three or more blogs, throughout the next several weeks.  My hope is that my readers will spread the word, pass my message along, and spark a lively conversation/debate as to these critical issues and, more importantly, how to resolve them.  I want for people to propose solutions and how they think we should address the issues.  What I don’t want is for people to sit back and simply gripe about the issues facing us, and how the Republicans and Democrats are failing to address them, pointing fingers – Capital Hill does enough of that for us (unfortunately).  Let’s put our heads together America, and dig out of his hole…NOW!

Recognizing, as we do, the importance of dealing with education, illegal immigration, the environment, etc., we can no longer allow our representatives to promise reform and fail to deliver.  We must revolutionize with lightning speed, the likes of which we have not seen since we completely re-tooled industrialized America in a matter of months to churn out the bullets, planes and ships necessary to win World War II. 

With equal, perhaps greater resolve, we must retool and revitalize our industrial complex to modernize and erect a new, efficient energy grid.  Talking about the potential of solar energy, wind power, and how we theoretically can rid ourselves of dependence on foreign fuel will no longer cut it. 

Talk is cheap.  We must take immediate action to revamp public education in order to properly prepare our children for the rigors of a global marketplace.   We must finally take steps to remove corruption in our government and demand fidelity in our representatives, rather than perpetuate it through our continued indifference to incumbent fraudulence.

But, to do so, we must all come together, united to the singular goal of prevailing as a cohesive, patriotic force.  Together, we can accomplish anything, but in a House divided, we will all fail.  We must collectively cast aside our egocentric factions as the critical issues into which I’ve delved are faced by all Americans, regardless of race, creed or party. 

Guided by our shared American ideals, we must shun our growing predisposition to demonize one another; individually and systemically to the summit of Capital Hill.  We must stand up, all of us, and demand that our elected officials reach across party isles, not for bi-partisan reform, but for American reform!   

Returning to our revolutionary roots, relearning and reaffirming our core principals as a nation – this is how we will win the war on terror, revitalize our economy, and advance a more perfect union for ourselves and our progeny.  In this dark hour, it is our privilege as a free people and our absolute duty to lead our families, our neighbors, and the remainder of the world, by shining example.

IT IS TIME FOR SOMEBODY TO STAND UP!  WELL, I AM STANDING RESOLUTE.  JOIN ME!!