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Sun Jul 7, 2013, 08:50 AM

The Right’s Made-up ‘Constitution’

July 6, 2013

For Tea Partiers and libertarians, it is an article of faith that the Constitution tightly constrained the federal government and gave broad powers to the states. But that is bogus history — mere propaganda — and suggests that the Right’s rank-and-file has never read or understood the document, says historian Jada Thacker.

By Jada Thacker

The Cato Institute’s Handbook for Policy Makers says, “The American system was established to provide limited government.” The American Enterprise Institute states its purpose to “defend the principles” of “limited government.” The Heritage Foundation claims its mission is to promote “principles of … limited government.” A multitude of Tea Party associations follow suit.

At first glance the concept of “limited government” seems like a no-brainer. Everybody believes the power of government should be limited somehow. All those who think totalitarianism is a good idea raise your hand. But there is one problem with the ultra-conservatives’ “limited government” program: it is wrong. It is not just a little bit wrong, but demonstrably false.

The Constitution was never intended to “provide limited government,” and furthermore it did not do so. The U.S. government possessed the same constitutional power at the moment of its inception as it did yesterday afternoon.

This is not a matter of opinion, but of literacy. If we want to discover the truth about the scope of power granted to federal government by the Constitution, all we have to do is read what it says.

The Constitution’s grant of essentially unlimited power springs forth in its opening phrases: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

http://consortiumnews.com/2013/07/06/the-rights-made-up-constitution/

12 replies, 1471 views

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Reply The Right’s Made-up ‘Constitution’ (Original post)
MrScorpio Jul 2013 OP
pipoman Jul 2013 #1
Baitball Blogger Jul 2013 #2
baldguy Jul 2013 #3
unblock Jul 2013 #4
TheKentuckian Jul 2013 #9
Iliyah Jul 2013 #5
xtraxritical Jul 2013 #6
StevePaulson Jul 2013 #7
Jack Rabbit Jul 2013 #12
RC Jul 2013 #8
AgingAmerican Jul 2013 #10
Hugabear Jul 2013 #11

Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Sun Jul 7, 2013, 09:27 AM

1. And the Bill of Rights

further defines and limits government. Picking a paragraph to the exclusion of the entire document and reading the constitution to the exclusion of the BoR is silliness.

That said, it is a pretty interesting article....for every Constitutional scholar there is a different interpretation of the documents..

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Sun Jul 7, 2013, 09:42 AM

2. Oh, they have limited it, alright.

They have completely excised the Fourteenth Amendment.

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Sun Jul 7, 2013, 09:45 AM

3. Their Constitution is a lot like their Bible.

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Sun Jul 7, 2013, 09:56 AM

4. much as i agree that the right cherry-picks and makes up a lot of things,

constitutionally and otherwise, i find this article rather facile in terms of legal analysis.

the "necessary and proper" clause does not mean that the government can do whatever it wants regardless of necessity or properness, simply because the author has determined that the government is in a position to decide, if it so chooses, that anything and everything is necessary and proper.

if the government goes beyond what is necessary and proper, then it is exceeding its constitutional authority, period. the fact that the government is in a position to get away with it does not in any way mean that the constitution authorized it.

conversely, while the 10th amendment is hardly been found to be a constitutional powerhouse, it was never 100% dead on arrival either. a better way of phrasing the pointlessness of the tenth amendment would be to say that it was redundant. the states and the people *do* retain rights, and already did so prior to the adoption of the tenth amendment, which arguably simply stated the obvious.


the "necessary and proper" clause has been called the "elastic clause" not because it can stretch to mean anything, but because its meaning has, from time to time, stretched and relaxed, repeatedly.

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Response to unblock (Reply #4)

Sun Jul 7, 2013, 11:41 AM

9. Much better understanding than the article.

They also seem to suffer a touch from an misunderstanding that enumerating is exactly the same as bestowing or creating.

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Sun Jul 7, 2013, 10:58 AM

5. And they pick and chose

from the Bible as well.

Thats a helluva phrase "We the People of the United States . . . perfect Union . . .establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide common defence, promote the general Welfare. . .secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity . . .ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

How sweet it is, beautiful!!!!!!!

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Sun Jul 7, 2013, 11:19 AM

6. A very cogent must read.

 

Already the "scholars" are pontificating here.

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Sun Jul 7, 2013, 11:29 AM

7. Only 2nd Amendment Counts....

For a right winger there is only the 2nd amendment. The rest of our constitution is a bunch of words far too big to understand.... I once saw a picture of a "conservative's" constitution. It had all but the 2nd amendment blacked out.

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Response to StevePaulson (Reply #7)

Sun Jul 7, 2013, 12:35 PM

12. The sum and substance of the rw Bill of Rights:

"My 12-gauge give me the right to say anything I want and shut you up permanently."

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Sun Jul 7, 2013, 11:37 AM

8. That "promote the general Welfare" part covers Single Payer, Universal Health Care.

 

It is Constitutional. The general health of a nation does affect the vigor of the common defence, also. General good health of the population also contributes to the insurance of domestic Tranquility.

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Sun Jul 7, 2013, 11:48 AM

10. Everything is a RW talking point with them

To them the constitution is interpreted as a bunch of right wing talking points.

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Response to MrScorpio (Original post)

Sun Jul 7, 2013, 12:02 PM

11. The whole 'states rights' thing is vastly overstated

In fact, we fought a bloody war over that issue.

States rights basically allow states to govern themselves as long as they don't conflict with federal laws, or violate civil rights. This is what the right wingers have an issue with. Almost ALL of their 'states rights' issues have been dealing with violating civil rights: slavery, segregation, gay marriage, promoting religion, etc.

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