Progressives (Re)Discover that the Constitution is “Obstructionist”

In the Washington Post, columnist Charles Lane writes a predictably partisan – and incorrect – version of recent history about the Halbig v. Sebelius decision in the DC US District Court.

Under the head “Progressives learn the hard way that the Constitution is obstructionist”, we are treated to the same tired lament that Woodrow Wilson expressed in a 1912 campaign speech:

“The trouble with the theory is that government is not a machine, but a living thing. It falls, not under the theory of the universe, but under the theory of organic life. It is accountable to Darwin, not to Newton. It is modified by its environment, necessitated by its tasks, shaped to its functions by the sheer pressure of life. No living thing can have its organs offset against each other, as checks, and live. On the contrary, its life is dependent upon their quick co-operation, their ready response to the commands of instinct or intelligence, their amicable community of purpose. Government is not a body of blind forces; it is a body of men, with highly differentiated functions, no doubt, in our modern day, of specialization, with a common task and purpose. Their co-operation is indispensable, their warfare fatal. There can be no successful government without the intimate, instinctive co-ordination of the organs of life and action. This is not theory, but fact, and displays its force as fact, whatever theories may be thrown across its track. Living political constitutions must be Darwinian in structure and in practice. Society is a living organism and must obey the laws of life, not of mechanics; it must develop.

All that progressives ask or desire is permission—in an era when “development,” “evolution,” is the scientific word—to interpret the Constitution according to the Darwinian principle; all they ask is recognition of the fact that a nation is a living thing and not a machine.

Some citizens of this country have never got beyond the Declaration of Independence, signed in Philadelphia, July 4th, 1776. Their bosoms swell against George III, but they have no consciousness of the war for freedom that is going on today.”

Lane and other progressives assume that their causes are always right and just and we all define “progress” the same way – or should be forced to. This idea is nothing less than a prescription of oligarchical tyranny.

Obama and the contemporary progressives believe, as Wilson did before them, that too many folks, primarily conservatives, are just too shackled with believing the Constitution and the Declaration – they should just forget that, never mind the separation of powers and let the federal government decide what is best.

Progressives willfully forget that the Constitution is not like legislation, it is a statement of principles that are universal and transcendent. Our rights do not come from the Constitution, those are bestowed by the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” – we have them from birth. The Constitution is there to prevent the very type of infringement upon them the progressives wish to conduct.

Lane also misstates history (as all progressives do to support the lie of the day) and incorrectly lays the woes of America at the feet of these evil folks, these conservatives:

“To be sure, its conservative tilt has not always served the country well. Among the many national problems that festered absent national decision-making, slavery was the worst. Messed-up health care is another.”

I would like to remind Mr. Lane that it was a Republican, Abraham Lincoln, who ended slavery and it was a “progressive”, Woodrow Wilson, who re-segregated the military. Wilson was objectively a racist and was probably the first to court the Negro vote with no intention of helping them. In April of 2013, Paul Rahe, professor of history at Hillsdale College noted this, writing at the National Review:

“One hundred years ago today, Woodrow Wilson brought Jim Crow to the North. He had been inaugurated on March 4, 1913. At a cabinet meeting on April 11, his postmaster general, Albert S. Burleson, suggested that the new administration segregate the railway mail service; and treasury secretary William G. McAdoo, who would soon become Wilson’s son-in-law, chimed in to signal his support. Wilson followed their lead. He had made a bid for the African-American vote in 1912, and he had attracted the support of figures such as W. E. B. Du Bois, but, as he put it at the meeting, he had made “no promises in particular to Negroes, except to do them justice.” Burleson’s proposal he welcomed, but he wanted “the matter adjusted in a way to make the least friction.”

Conservatives also had little to do with healthcare, the current system of health care/insurance was created by FDR during WWII. The federal government, interfering in the free market economy decided not to allow wages to rise as the supply of workers was reduced during the war and wages were capped. Since employers could not increase wages to reward workers, they needed another means to entice and keep employees. The incentive they decided on were benefits like health insurance (that were tax exempt).

No, Lane’s piece plows no new ground, it is just the shopworn lament of the progressive – that government should be without checks and balances, the equivalent of Plato’s Guardians, Hobbes’ Sovereign and More’s Prince all rolled into one and men like Wilson…and Obama…should be given the power to interpret the Constitution as they see fit – in the Darwinian tradition of evolution and that darn dusty old Constitution keeps getting in the way.

Funny how the progressives see our founding principles as “obstructionist”. You would think that makes them anti-American.



3 thoughts on “Progressives (Re)Discover that the Constitution is “Obstructionist”

  1. Pingback: Constitution: legal change | The Rio Norte Line

  2. Pingback: Constitution: Legal change | The Oil in Your Lamp

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