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The Conservative Utopia

It is well known by conservatives and other thinking people that the aim of most “social justice” adherents is that perfect world in which everybody is treated equally and nobody has more (or less) than anyone else. This was the essential promise of communism—the establishment of the Workers’ Paradise—and this concept is the general thrust of the socialist ideal. Of course, this ideal has also been encrusted with a great many other concepts from the end of Western Civilization, the white race and Christianity to the belief that human desire is sufficient to produce genuine reality as seen in our current crises of gender and climate. But whatever the setting, it is generally acknowledged that utopianism is a tenet of the Left!

Not so! The Right has its own utopian vision, a vision that, frankly, is no more realistic than that of the Left. And that vision is made manifest with the ever-increasing cry on the Right that we must “look to the Constitution” in order to “re-establish the Republic of the Founders.” Really? Well educated conservatives and their ilk—just about the only folk who are truly “well educated’ these days!—believe that this “Founding Document” together with the Declaration of Independence and the Pledge of Allegiance are a sort of “magic talisman” that will whisk us back to a time of sanity and patriotism. But sadly, it would seem that the Right is no better at observing history than is the Left! Aside from the Declaration, a document that has no “legal” authority but is merely a statement intended to justify an actual rebellion in 1776, the other two national talismans are distinctly flawed.

For instance, the Pledge was the construct of Francis Bellamy, a socialist, in the 1930s. And while it sounds “patriotic,” it certainly does not represent the mindset of the Founders. After all, a flag is a symbol not the thing itself and though it may be loved by those whose country it represents, the term “allegiance” is not applicable. Why? Because its meaning rests on the values and actions of that country—values and actions that may change to the point at which such loyalty and fidelity cannot be maintained by a truly moral—and especially Christian—people. Consider the difference between Christian Russia and the Soviet Union and you will better understand the matter.

Furthermore, the Pledge goes on to identify the “nation-state” as indivisible. There was, at one time, a good-sized segment of the people and States involved in the “united (lower case “u”) States” who rejected that concept and though they did not prevail, what happened before, during and after their attempt to “divide” proves that they were correct in making that attempt.

And, finally, “with liberty and justice for all” has become nonsense today albeit, at the time that sentiment might have been been both the belief – and the desire – of the American people and most of their government. Oh, and remember, the “under God” part was put in a lot later. Apparently socialist Bellamy, unlike the Founders, gave no consideration to the necessity of Divine succor.

The Constitution, on the other hand, is a much more difficult issue. It must be remembered that it was born in deceit—and such a beginning seldom bodes well for the ultimate outcome. The convention called at the time was presented as an attempt to cure the weaknesses in the Articles of Confederation, which admittedly were many. But there were those who never intended to “fix” the Articles, but to abandon them and establish a different set of governing rules that included a “federal” (or central) government and, therefore, the nightmare of the former colonists, the possibility of a standing army.

In other words, contrary to what many believe, the Constitution didn’t just serendipitously “happen!” It was planned from the beginning. Of course, there are those who all along have maintained that such a document was required for the nation to grow and, in its original state, the Constitution was a decent attempt at the formation of what Mr. Franklin called, “. . .a republic, Madam, if you can keep it.” But, alas, we couldn’t keep it and a great deal of that failure was due to the very Constitution that supposedly created it.

It is also interesting to note that the writer of the Declaration, Thomas Jefferson, was in France when the convention was called. It seems very strange given Jefferson’s importance in all that went before, that he should be unavailable to lend his wisdom to the proceedings—or might that not have been the plan all along; that is, that Thomas Jefferson would not be available to influence what was to come.

As well, that “jewel of the Constitution,” The Bill of Rights was not included in the original document but is identified as the first Ten Amendments! After the original document had been drafted, there were those who looked for enumerated protections for the People vis a vis the newly created “federal government” and, wonder of wonders, couldn’t find them! The upshot of that was, of course, the Bill of Rights.

But the amendment process itself is problematic in that—as has been proved throughout the years—amendments can be revoked! They are not set in stone. Hence, the 18th Amendment (Prohibition) was revoked after proving to be as stupid as those who passed it must surely have known it was at the time! Therefore, if an Amendment can be revoked, what actually stands between the rights of the People contained in the Constitution and the nullification of those rights? Remember, the “Bill of Rights” is itself a matter of ten Amendments! Conservatives constantly site the First and Second Amendments as assuring their rights of speech, association, assembly and religion as well as the right to bear arms! The claim is that these “Constitutional Amendments” cannot be suppressed by the government, but if the Left gains possession of the central government and enough of the States, the Amendment revocation process is just as valid for any (or all) of the first Ten Amendments as it was for the 18th!

But Amendments have also been used to nullify the original meaning of the Constitution itself. For instance, the 16th Amendment instituted an income tax, something rejected by the Founders knowing that the ability to tax provided great power to the government. The 17th Amendment removed the States from the governing process and turned the nation, for all intents and purposes, from a republic to a democracy! Before that Amendment, the State governments appointed their States’ senators, thus providing another check to the power of the “central” government.

In other words, the Constitution is indeed a “living document” as many lawyers and jurists have claimed for years. Those who reject that belief and say that it is a legal document saying what it says and no more—or less—fail to take into consideration that the desired language to provide a desired “right” can be inferred in such vague concepts as the right to “privacy” (Roe v. Wade) or, in the alternative, based upon the “general welfare” clause that has come to mean whatever the government wants it to mean. But if neither of these claims work sufficiently or, in the alternative, can be successfully challenged, one can always add an Amendment such as the newly revived, Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) whose purpose was to put abortion directly into the Constitution thus ending the reliance on Roe.

Now, the Constitution doesn’t label what is permissible. To do that, the document would have been longer than Gibbons Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire and it would have failed to mention everything anyway! So, it simply enumerated what was not permitted. But even that understanding was not sufficient to assure certain rights, though unmentioned, were nevertheless acknowledged under the Constitution! Take, for instance, the right of secession. That right was not directly mentioned in the Constitution even though three States—Virginia, New York and Rhode Island—had put secession clauses into their ratification documents. As these documents were accepted by all signatories and as in any contract or compact, no signatory has more or fewer rights than any other signatory, secession was a given upon the ratification of the Constitution! Indeed, the matter was so “settled” that twice the New England States convened to consider it. Eventually, they voted it down, but they voted and no threats came from President Madison—a Virginian!—that the States involved would incur bloody war in response to their actions.

Even so, when South Carolina, and five other Southern States voted to leave the Union in 1861, President James Buchanan, a Southern Democrat, rejected secession and tasked his Attorney General, Jeremiah Black to search the Constitution and provide him with a means to stop secession and to force already seceded States back into the Union! Black, a brilliant and conscientious man, provided to the President, the following results:

  1. The president must not overstep the limits of his legal and just authority. 
  2. The operations of any military force must be purely defensive. 
  3. To send a military force into any State to act against the people would be to make war upon them.  (See Article III Section 3, US Constitution’s definition of treason)
  4. The laws put the Federal Government strictly on the defensive, and force can be used only to repel an assault on public property.*
  5. In the event of the secession of any state, the president must execute the laws to the extent of the defensive means.** 
  6. The Constitution does not give Congress the right to make war against any State or to require the president to carry it on except when the State applies for assistance against her own people or to repel an invasion of a State by enemies from abroad, not to plunge them into civil war. 
  7. A declaration of war or hostilities by the Central Government against any State or states would absolve all the States from their Federal obligations. 
  8. The General Government may not engage in a war to punish the people for the political misdeeds of their State Governments or to force them to acknowledge the supremacy of the central Government. Some conquering others and holding them as “subjugated provinces” would destroy the theory upon which they were united. 
  9. The arming of any portion of the people against another save for “protecting the General Government in the exercise of its constitutional functions” would constitute an end of the Union.

[*The “attack” on Fort Sumter by the newly formed Confederate States of America does not fall under this proviso as Sumter had reverted to South Carolina under the lease agreement with the Federal Government before 1861 and at the time of the assault was illegally occupied by federal troops.

** The federal government could not respond militarily unless its territory was invaded by any or all of the seceded States involved. And as seen above, the assault on Fort Sumter does not meet that criteria.]

In keeping with his oath of office to “defend the Constitution,” Buchanan backed off. But his successor, Abraham Lincoln, fearing loss of the revenues from the South—that section paying well over half of the federal budget!—did not. Lincoln simply declared secession “unconstitutional” and proceeded to initiate the bloodiest war in America’s history to date. Indeed, the most egregious blow to the legitimacy of the Constitution took place under Lincoln during the so-called “Civil War.” That war and all that was done to the people of the eleven (former) States both during and after the war, for all intents and purposes destroyed that document as a defense against any tyranny by the national—no longer federal—government.

So, until conservative Americans realize that there no longer are any “constitutional guarantees” against government tyranny, those on the Right who call for a “return to the Constitution” are as foolish as are those on the Left hoping to institute their socialist utopias.