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Monday, October 22, 2007

Restore the Constitution!

Uber investor Peter Lynch has famously said, "Go for a business that any idiot can run – because sooner or later, any idiot is probably going to run it."

I think this idea applies to governments as well businesses. But not only is it true that someday "any idiot" will run a given government (i.e., be its chief executive), it is also true that someday a power-hungry tyrant will run it. (Is it possible that "someday" is today?)

That's why the original design of our federal government was such a good one. The original idea, as set forth in the Constitution, was to divide power between the states and the federal government by granting the federal government only a very limited number of enumerated powers and by dividing those powers among three equal branches of the federal government, the executive, the legislative, and the judiciary. This has, of course, changed dramatically over time. Today the federal government, having assumed the lion's share of government power, tells the states what they can do, what they must do, and what they must not do. As well, the executive has usurped many of the powers (e.g., the power to declare war) that rightfully belong to one of the other two branches. In short, we no longer have a Republic; what we have is an elected dictatorship that is all too quick to "declare" and wage war.

If we want an enduring peace, we will have to reject the Imperial Presidency and return to the design laid out in the Constitution.

It's depressing to note that most of the candidates for President are saying little or nothing about the need to reduce the power of the federal government and the need to reduce the power of the Presidency. Instead, with only one or two exceptions, the candidates are simply telling us what they plan to do with all the power that now comes with being elected Emperor.

We voters should refuse to play this game. We should demand that the candidates tell us how they plan to restore the Republic and the Constitution and return the country to a defensive military posture and, thus, substantially reduce the power of the Presidency. Returning the country to a defensive military posture (by closing ALL of our overseas bases and bringing home ALL of the troops) would be a giant step forward on the path to peace.

As long as we have an all-powerful federal government that is run not by three equal branches but by a single Decider (with the Congress only playing the role of an "Amen Chorus"), the prospects for an enduring peace look very grim. We might occasionally elect as President someone who believes that the U. S. should pursue a humble foreign policy and actually aligns his behavior as President with that belief, but more often than not the residents of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue will be power-hungry, war-mongering tyrants that will drag the country into one illegal, unconstitutional war after another. Want proof? Just look at American history since, say, 1898!

It's very important that we elect a true peace candidate in 2008. But it's just as important that we also retrace our steps back to the system of government defined by the Constitution by substantially reducing the power of the federal government and by substantially reducing the power of the President.

It will be a huge challenge to elect a true peace candidate—a Mike Gravel, a Dennis Kucinich, or a Ron Paul—in 2008. I dare not ask how much more difficult it will be to restore the Republic and the Constitution and return the country to a defensive military posture. But it seems to me that these are the things we must do to achieve an enduring peace. Electing a true peace candidate in 2008, while necessary, will simply not be sufficient. We have to change the entire system, not just the temporary occupant of the White House. It’s unlikely that the federal government will voluntarily give up any of the powers it has stolen from the states and the people. To change the system, it’s up to the states and the people to take back the powers that rightfully belong to them. And it's up to Congress and the Courts to take back the powers that have been taken from them by past Presidents. The media could help, but the national, mainstream media appear to be clueless. Thank goodness for the local and alternative media and the internet!

Once we succeed in restoring the Constitution, we should give serious thought to replacing the Constitution with an even weaker federal government. The one defined by the Articles of Confederation might be just about right: it might be one that any idiot could run!

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