"When they allow a talk show host to play them like a two-dollar banjo, they demonstrate what kind of backbone they'll bring to the job later on, if we elect them. After they get elected will they continue to allow Jeff Crank to put a nickel in them and wind them up every Saturday morning?"

Barry Noreen, former columnist, Colorado Springs Gazette

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

LEVIATHAN


By

ROBERT HARKINS

Leviathan. Etymology: Middle English, from Late Latin, 14th century. The political state; especially: a totalitarian state having a vast bureaucracy. Something large or formidable.

House Democrats have conceived from the Leviathan a “parliamentary tactic” to circumvent compliance with the American Constitution. They will not, as President O’Bama promised, vote up or down on the latest version of the health care bill; they will instead simply “deem it” voted into law. The tactic will serve to place the bill on the President’s desk for signature. Democrats also hope that it will rescue Democrats from the wrath of Americans who vote. Democrats will be able to tell the American people that they did not vote for the health care plan, that it was “deemed”— presumably by persons unknown—into law. Hence they will argue pitifully that as they did not actually vote for the health care plan they are innocent of wrongdoing. The tactic, of course, reveals contempt for Constitutional government. That Democrats believe it will convince voters that they are not responsible for passage of the health care plan reveals an extraordinary contempt for the intelligence of the American people.

The provisions of the Constitution, of course, may be changed or increased by an amendment process, the drafters intentionally made difficult and onerous. The Constitution, however, may not be changed by the Leviathan imagination of politicians who believe that parliamentary trickery will suffice the plain words of a Constitution. The drafters did not write deeming language into the Constitution. The language of the Constitution is plain. An understanding of its provisions does not require an exploration of the psychology of the drafters. Article 1, Section 7 of the U.S. Constitution clearly and simply mandates that,

Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it becomes a Law, be presented to the President of the United States.

In a Wall Street Journal Article Michael McConnell, noting that Speaker Pelosi’s tactic is unprecedented in American history, writes,

“The Slaughter solution attempts to allow the House to pass the Senate bill, plus a bill amending it, with a single vote….But this means that no single bill will have passed both houses in the same form. If Congress can now decide that the House can vote for one bill and the Senate can vote for another, and the final result can be some arbitrary hybrid, then we have abandoned one of Madison’s core checks and balances.

Here is summary of conservative reaction from the Weekly Standard.

“[U]sing such a dicey procedure to enact President Barack Obama's biggest domestic initiative — the most far-reaching social policy change in decades — could inflame a public that's already annoyed at the legislation's tortured path and disgusted with Congress.” (McClatchy, 3/16/10)Any member of Congress who believes in the Democrats’ health care plan – one that raises taxes $500 billion, slashes Medicare by another $500 billion, forces taxpayers to fund abortions, and gives bureaucrats power to make medical decisions – should be willing to stand up and be counted. And editorial boards across the country have begun to speak out about the “disgusting process”:


“That may help some House members dodge a politically difficult decision, but it strikes us as a dodgy way to reform the health-care system. Democrats who vote for the package will be tagged with supporting the Senate bill in any event. Why not be straightforward about it?” (Washington Post Editorial, 3/16/10)

“Democrats are, literally, consuming their own majority for the sake of imposing new taxes, regulations and entitlements that the public has roundly rejected but that they believe will be the crowning achievement of the welfare state. They are also leaving behind a procedural bloody trail that will fuel public fury and make such a vast change of law seem illegitimate to millions of Americans.” (Wall Street Journal Editorial, 3/16/10)

“This disgusting process, which Democrats brazenly wish to bring to conclusion this week, is being done with little regard for the opinions of a clear majority of Americans who, while they may believe health care reform is necessary, think this particular approach will take our nation down the wrong economic path.” (Cincinnati Enquire Editorial, 3/16/10)

The President, Senators and Congressmen swore an oath to protect and preserve the American Constitution. The oath is taken to emphasize the gravity of the public trust the people place in these men and woman and also, the oath takers’ solemn pledge to govern strictly within the boundaries and prohibitions established by the Constitution. Why this oath? Because the Constitution is the legitimate and exclusive law of the land. The president, senator or congressman who trespasses its boundaries violates his oath, and worse still, demeans the Constitution’s critical function, its reason for being—to prevent the usurpation of a sovereign people by a despotic government, by Leviathan.

In emphasizing the importance of Constitutional government, the great 19th century Edmund Burke raged against the great evil, that governments sooner or later visit upon their citizens. His words fit well this modern Democrat Congress and its too prominent House celebrities.

Many of the greatest tyrants on the records of history have begun their reigns in the fairest manner. But the truth is, this unnatural power corrupts both the heart and the understanding. And to prevent the least hope of amendment, a king is ever surrounded by a crowd of infamous flatterers, who find their account in keeping him from the least light of reason, till all ideas of rectitude and justice are utterly erased from his mind….

Unbounded power proceeds step by step, until it has eradicated every laudable principle. It has been remarked that there is no prince so bad, whose favorites and ministers are not worse. There is hardly any prince without a favorite, by whom he is governed in as arbitrary a manner as he governs the wretches subjected to him. Here the tyranny is doubled.[1]

Burke’s analysis has been tragically confirmed by twentieth century events: Hitler’s legal ascension to power in a German parliamentary democracy, and the Lenin/Stalin destruction of a budding Russian parliamentary system following World War I. The evil to be prevented, therefore, is government power unleashed, unaccountable and grotesque—. That is precisely why Americans met at Philadelphia to draft an American Constitution. The drafters were intelligent and well read men who were well aware of the French philosophes, Robespierre, and the sentiments which inspired the French Revolution: Liberté, égalité, fraternité. It is, of course, impossible that the sincere practice of such noble virtue could have led to Robespierre, to mass homicidal slaughter, to the collapse of French government, and the beheading of untold numbers of innocent, brilliant and patriotic citizens. Indeed, the famous Lafayette and his wife, who supported the American Revolution, were themselves, by The Revolution, condemned to the guiotine. They were saved only by the clandestine intercession of the then American Ambassador to France the future President James Monroe.

History had proved for the drafters of the Constitution a most sober lesson. Noble sentiments alone will not keep safe a people from its government. The nature of all governments is to accede to ever greater power, to consume by degrees the substance, wealth and freedom of its people, to debase their currency, to bind them to unquenchable debt, to engage them in fruitless and destructive war, to demean their noble sentiments, and finally to disgrace, defame and bring them down to ruin. This doesn’t happen at once but over time. Government trespass begins by degrees and may attain a savagery that history records is boundless, irrational and unrestrained.

The Constitution, therefore, is not a “living document” a socialist euphemism intended to suggest that its principles should be made to evolve according to the intellectual inclinations of utopian intellectuals, an academic passion to experiment with human tradition, or a social scientist’s passion to engineer a brave new world out of the scraps and pieces of a Constitution.

The “living, breathing” theory suggests that America today faces challenges that did not exist in 1787. The theory, however, requires that we ignore history, human avarice and the Nietchean will to power that is the genetic heart and soul of Leviathan. Worse, those who embrace the “living, breathing” metaphor miss entirely the critical function of constitutions; it is to restrain to the strictest limits workable a government that unrestrained will by its very nature ruin the people who breathed it into being. Hard words: But what was the fate of the men and women who sought to build a government of Liberté, égalité, fraternité. Where now is Stalin’s Soviet Union, or Mussolini’s “New Rome?” Indeed, where is Athens? Where is the ancient Rome? And what was their peoples’ fate?

In a parliamentary stroke unprecedented in American Constitutional government, the Democrats will try again to pass a Health Care Bill they know will grievously increase the intervention of government into the lives of its people, and will plunge Americans into obscene and lethal debt. They will try again to pass this bill knowing full well that the majority of the American people, for good reason, protest its passage. In its creation, the President and his Congress have resorted to threats, to blatant bribery, to outright falsehoods and, of course, to an economic shell game intended to convince presumably ignorant Americans that the cost of health care will somehow curve downward. Not a one of these Democrats believe a word of this economic nonsense. In a column posted March 16th, 2010 by Heritage Society: Obamacare Slaughter Rule is without Precedent, it author Brian Darling writes that,

Yesterday, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) endorsed the rumored Slaughter Rule to send the Senate passed Obamacare bill to the President without a direct up-or-down vote in the House.

In this scenario, the House members would not vote “up or down” on the Bill but simply “deem it passed” without voting. This is Constitutional trespass and a violation of the oath sworn by those congressmen who will surrender principle and honor to this Constitutional outrage.

“Unbounded power proceeds step by step, until it has eradicated every laudable principle.” In this way Leviathan casts off the constraints of constitutions. What follows always at the end, sooner or later, is infamy.



[1] The Works of The Right Honourable Edmund Burke, In Twelve Volumes. London, John C. Nimmo. 14. King William Street. W.C.

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