I happen to agree with Donald Trump that Hillary Clinton should be prosecuted, she deserves her turn in the dock to answer for the charges of violating national security but Trump’s loud pronouncement of his commitment to prosecute her combined with several of his other constitutionally questionable promises makes one wonder if this sort of whipsaw world of government is what we have to look forward to in the future.
The miracle of our Constitution is that it was designed to constrain GOVERNMENT, not people. That is a very important concept because no matter the philosophy or ideology of the ruling party, they were subject to the same rules of operation. For a couple hundred years, major political parties seeking to control the country were bound by the same limits set by the enumerated powers defined in the document and enforced by checks and balances established by the balance of power of a tripartite government.
From the moment the Constitution was signed, there has been a war ongoing between the Federalists and the anti-Federalists – essentially between those who saw government as a guardian of natural liberty and those who sought to use government as a tool to satisfy the wants, needs and desire of citizens. This war began to intensify as Abraham Lincoln abrogated the Constitution in an effort to keep the Union together during the Civil War, and accelerated under the despicable anti-Constitutionalist, Woodrow Wilson.
Wilson was the first true “progressive”, meaning that he saw the Constitution as an impediment to perfection of society. Wilson noted his intent in a campaign speech:
“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.”
Wilson also set the table for such “strongman” governance via the methods he sought to bring it about. He believed that the power of the president waslimited only by how much that person could get away with. Wilson’s perspective was that once a president assumed control with popular backing, no single force could withstand him. According to Wilson, a president “is at liberty, both in law and conscience, to be as big a man as he can. His capacity will set the limit.”
Of course, FDR, the progressive icon, would take Wilson’s idea using the Great Depression as an excuse and run with it, giving America the socialist underpinnings that is eating the federal budget alive today.
The point of this rambling history lesson is this – if a president is limited only by his or her ambitions, displaying a disdain for the separation of powers, a catch me if you can attitude, and can willfully ignore the Constitution, America’s days with a stable, predictable and equitable form of governance is over. If the answer to one president’s extra-constitutional actions are the extra-constitutional actions of the next president, we are doomed to the same existence as a tennis ball on Centre Court at Wimbledon.
Every president rebels against the separation of powers to claim power for the executive branch. President Obama certainly isn’t the first but he is the first to do it with malice aforethought (his “fundamental transformation”) and with a degree of maliciousness and contempt unseen since Wilsonian times. Also just as unprecedented is the size, scope and unaccountable power possessed by the army of deep (administrative) state now at the command of the Executive (grown from FDR’s statist embryo).
John Adams famously wrote:
“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
The Presidency of Barack H. Obama has done more to validate Adams’ warning than perhaps any other but the end to this isn’t the election of another stongman to hit the ball back into the other court with and equally extra-constitutional racket. The temptation is great to do so, to “set things right”, so to speak, people say this is a main attraction for Trump – he will “hit back.” Sadly though, as in a tennis match, “hitting back” only keeps the set going until the ball is eventually miss-hit so far out of bounds that the set stops and someone loses.