The Framers moved beyond a loose Confederation of States creating the greatest experiment in freedom the world has ever known. They birthed a nation conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal unleashing the creative power and energy of humanity in a way never before known and never since equaled. They launched a government of the people, by the people and for the people .
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery the Constitution should feel very flattered. Our founding document has been copied by almost as many countries as radio talking-heads trying to imitate Rush Limbaugh. Though it was the best set of compromises the Framers could hammer-out they knew as time passed it might need to be changed. They made provisions for gradual evolution to occur without the Revolution they used to obtain change they could believe in or the Civil War their grandchildren fought to change that change.
How are we the descendants of the ascendant supposed to change the foundations laid hundreds of years ago into the structure we want today? To preserve and protect the representative nature and federal structure of the government they created, the Framers designed a process through which legitimate change must involve the representatives of the people and the States through formal amendments. Outside of this the words as written and as meant were to be the law of the land. The idea that the words of the Constitution have to be re-interpreted every generation is ludicrous. The Federalist papers, the notes of James Madison the primary author and dictionaries of the time exist to tell us what the words meant to the writers. If the words are re-interpreted with every generation all that has to be done to change the document is change the meaning of the words.
The Framers in Article Five provided two methods to propose amendments. Congress may propose amendments with a 2/3 vote in both houses or the legislatures of two thirds of the states can call a convention for proposing amendments. The second method has never been used though today we’re only two states away from calling a Constitutional Convention. When an amendment is ratified by either the legislatures or specially called conventions of 3/4 of the states it becomes part of the Constitution.
This is how we’re supposed to go about changing the fundamental nature of our Republic. Not by fiat, not by decree, not by clever re-interpretation and certainly not by the whim of a fickle electorate every four years.
President Obama is not the first president to appoint an official adviser without submitting them to the Senate for confirmation. Back in the 1830s with an official Cabinet of lackluster hacks confirmed by the Senate President Jackson depended on an unofficial group of close personal friends and practical politicians for advice. Turning a good phrase the journalists of the day anointed this the “Kitchen Cabinet.” Thus the presidents fulfill the letter of the law moving less controversial non-entities through the confirmation process as figureheads to run bureaucratic departments while relying on others outside the glare of scrutiny as their sources of information, their compass.
Has this now become the means to change the nature of our government without using the amendment process? From Republican to Democrat both parties have used an ever growing number of appointments to staff their governments with people who are not accountable to anyone, who are not vetted by anyone and many who couldn’t get a security clearance if they were. Until today we have the Cavalcade of Czars. A school-safety czar who led the way in introducing homosexual advocacy in public schools, a pay czar who decides who gets what at companies receiving government funds, a technology czar forced to resign because of a bribery scandal replaced by one who has no education in technology.
This growing shadow government being constructed alongside our traditional governmental structure combined with the administration’s radical legislative program marks a rising to a crescendo of change that is hard to believe. This radical agenda includes: nationalizing health care along with approximately 1/6th of the economy, the take-over of major industries, a cap-n-tax energy boondoggle that will cripple the economy and comprehensive import-a-voter immigration reform.
Have we reached the tipping point? Will we stand idly by while slick politicians surrounded by people we would never elect turn us into what we would never willingly become? Will we cruise the remote while they fundamentally change America from what we’ve known to what we would never choose? Is this the change we were promised or has someone changed the change.
Will we leave our children in service to an ever growing centralized state with a planned economy and an obedient media singing songs to the Glorious Leader and wondering ,”Why did they let freedom slip through their fingers?”
Dr. Robert R. Owens teaches history, political science, religion, and leadership for Southside Virginia Community College. Dr. Owens is the author of “America Won the Vietnam War” and “The Asuza Street Revival.” He is available for speaking engagements.