The Gospel Truth

A Rule Book for Politicians….Part I | January 13, 2011

There is something about rules that warrant a visceral reaction.

I think people feel that way because rules tell us, not just what we can do but what we cannot do.

In a society that has turned some freedoms into licenses that can be a very harrowing thing.

Personally, I think government goes too  far with its multi-layered bureaucracy of innumerable agencies with their volumes of rules and regulations that threaten my personal freedoms from 16 different directions.

However I think some personal rules are great for society.

Take the 10 Commandments–if more people followed them religiously, we could easily dispense with millions of our government’s petty moralizing of our behaviors.

But there is one set of rules most Democratic politicians and even a few Republicans find troublesome and too restrictive on their own freedom and power.

I am talking about the Rule Book for Politicians.

No, I do not mean Machiavelli or even Saul Alinsky.

I am talking about the United States Constitution, which was designed 223 years ago to empower, direct and limit our politicians in their myriad dealings with the citizens and foreign countries.

America's rule book

It is a marvelous document that could only have been created by leaders whom I fear were far greater than any this country has produced in the last generation or two.

Most of our politicians, especially the progressives, hate the Constitution because it tells them what they cannot do.

It puts a curfew on them when they want to spend all hours of the night  trying to expand their powers, while getting rich in the process.

To hear many of them argue today in the wake of the November debacle at the polls, inspired largely by members of a throwback era, the new Tea Party that demanded a new respect for the Constitution be demonstrated by all those who wished to serve this nation.

After all it is not only the president that swears to uphold and protect the Constitution but also every member of Congress.

I dare say I would wager than many of them have never even read the document.

One would think that with a president who presumably has not only read it but understands it well enough to have taught it at the University of Chicago Law School that there would be more respect offered to this our primary source of authority and the rock upon which the nation’s existence and future rests upon.

But is that the case?  Perhaps Professor Obama studied the document, only so he could find all its loopholes.

View Image

Like W. C. Fields?

The bone of political contention in the Constitution revolves around two potentially conflicting sections.

The enumerated powers lists all the specific things that the different branches have as their responsibility.

There is also an amendment process that is a bit cumbersome and can take years before a change is enacted.

For a president or a Congress in a hurry, this can be game-breaker.

The clause that has given the most hope to presidents with big ideas is the general welfare clause that states the government may do anything that is necessary and proper to promote…

Since it carries with it a lot of implied powers, it has often allowed presidents a lot of wiggle room.

Alexander Hamilton was the nation’s first Secretary of the Treasury and he had big ideas for launching America’s economic enterprise.

His series of Reports on Manufactures set a paradigm for American prosperity that seemed to capture the future in a handbasket.

People like Hamilton were called loose constructionists because they favored a relaxed approach to the extension of government power through those pesky implied powers.

Hamilton’s ideas became the linchpin of the Federalist Party, one of the country’s first faction that is a group of people with a similar political agenda and philosophy.

A progenitor of the 1st political faction

They were quickly opposed by their polar opposites, for want of a better name, the Anti-Federalists, led by Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison.

They believed in few if any implied powers, or a strict constructionist view of the Constitution.

These two principles set the stage for evolution of a system of faction that Madison had warned against in hisFederalist #10.

These two “parties” were the progenitors of the political struggles were have been enduring in the 21st century.

However the differences between the two parties have become more extreme and the nation is in severe danger of turning its rule book into a quaint historical artifact.

These contradictory views are clearly visible in our current Supreme Court.

As President Jefferson was so dedicated to his belief that had his ministers not gone ahead without his consent and agreed to the purchase of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the country would be a lot smaller and the nation’s history much different.

When the agreement reached his desk, he bit his lip and signed it even though he could think of no place that it was allowed in the Constitution.

Portrait of Thomas Jefferson by Rembrandt Peale.

Worried about the Louisiana Purchase

The general welfare clause, sometimes called the elastic clause was a stroke of our political genius.

I took a course in Constitutional History at Fordham University one summer.

The professor pointed out that the nation of India was less than 25 years old and already its Constitution had hundreds of amendments.

The Indian constitution lacked an elastic clause that  would have allowed for changing times and new circumstances that the founding fathers could in their wildest imagination never predicted.

At that time our constitution was approaching its 175th birthday and it only had 24 amendments.

Of course the elastic clause has since the dawn of the 20th century and the rise of the Progressive philosophy of big and intrusive government has been thoroughly abused by several presidents.

This clause has allowed a number of them to confuse the general welfare of the country with the welfare of their winning the next election.

Since FDR and later under LBJ and now with BHO, the country has suffered through an enormous expansion of government that has made it become a Leviathan State that many of the founding fathers warned against.

Look for an expansion of this extreme division in my Part II later next week.

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2 Comments »

  1. BB, Think I am getting too old and reading your “review” makes my head swim. I listened to Glenn Beck tonight and learned who is manipulating the masses. It is sickening. We just have to follow the 10 commandments as you mentioned and use good common sense to make decisions about life. Pax

    Comment by Mary B — January 14, 2011 @ 1:32 am

  2. Wonderful column BB. It seems that our mission to keep our Constitution and Country is not over.
    6 generations of my family have server our Country in the Military Service so our children and grand children could sit at the Table of Liberty, but today, I feel the Axis Powers have not been defeated, they just changed sides.

    Comment by Jim — January 14, 2011 @ 2:21 am


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About author

After graduating from Holy Cross, Bill Borst earned an MA in Asian History from St. John's University and a Ph.D in American History from St. Louis University. (1972) A former New Yorker, he taught for many years in the St. Louis area, while also hosting a weekly radio show on WGNU from 1984-2006. He currently is a regular substitute for conservative Phyllis Schlafly on KSIV radio. (1320) He is the author of two books on social history, "Liberalism: Fatal Consequences," and "The Scorpion and the Frog: A Natural Conspiracy." He just retired as the Features editor of the Mindszenty Foundation Monthly Report. In his 11 years from 2003-2013 he wrote nearly 130 essays on Catholic culture and world affairs. Many in St. Louis also know him as the "Baseball Professor," because of a course that he offered at Maryville College from 1973-74. It was arguably the first fully-accredited baseball history course in the Midwest.The author of several short books on the old St. Louis Browns, he started the St. Louis Browns Historical Society in 1984. In 2009 his first two plays were produced on the local stage. "The Last Memory of an Ol' Brownie Fan," ran six performances at the Sound Stage in Crestwood and "A Perfect Choice" ran for two performances at the Rigali Center Theater in Shrewsberry. His third play, "A Moment of Grace," ran six performances at DeSmet High School in January of 2011with First Run Theater in January of 2011. He is currently working on a 4th play, "A Family Way," which is a comedy about a happy dysfunctional family. He can reached at bbprof@sbcglobal.net

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