Friday, July 18, 2008

Somewhat of an explanation

In my recent articles I have been pretty harsh in regards to the people of this country. Although my opinion has not changed, I feel somewhat obligated to explain why I feel this way about my fellow countrymen.

When people vote, I often wonder what is the deciding factor for them casting their ballot for a particular candidate. Is it because that candidate stands for certain principles which coincide with what they believe in? Is it because that candidate promised things which would benefit that person? Is it simply because they are better orators than their opponent? Or is it that they feel disgust for both candidates, but still feel it is their civic duty to vote for the lesser of two evils?

With the caliber of candidates we have had to choose from, I suspect that far too many people are forced to vote for the lesser of two evils. Even so, when people do cast their vote, no matter their reasons, I still think that they expect that candidate to live up to some expectations in return for their vote.

However, there seems to be one thing that far too many Americans have forgotten, that those we elect are bound by the Constitution as to what they can and cannot do in their capacity as representatives of the people.

Each person that we elect swears an oath to uphold the Constitution, yet many of the promises a candidate makes, which is why most people vote for them, are promises that are not included in the specifically enumerated powers granted them in the Constitution.

If we used the Constitution as a litmus test for most of the candidates running for office, none of them would ever get elected. That is because if they ran on a platform which conformed to the Constitution, they would not be able to make all those promises they do, therefore the majority of people would have no reason to vote for them.

Consider the following. Let's say there is a town that has a plant that build GM automobiles and the majority of the people in that town do not like Ford vehicles. Is it within the power of their duly elected sheriff to arrest anyone who owns a Ford just because people don't like Fords? What if your neighbor had a nicer house than you, could your duly elected sheriff take money from your neighbors bank account to fix your house up to the same standards as your neighbors? How about if there are a large number of poor in your city, can the duly elected sheriff come into your home, take food from your pantry and give it to the poor? In all the above cases the answer is no. The reason is because the duly elected sheriff is bound to uphold the law. If there is no law that gives the sheriff those powers, then they cannot take it upon themselves to do those things, no matter how large the majority that wants the sheriff to do them.

While that scenario may be farfetched, the same principle applies to every elected representative for whom you cast a vote. If the city charter, state constitution, or U.S. Constitution does not grant a particular elected official a power, then they just do not have that power, no matter how many citizens support it.

Thomas Jefferson once said, "I consider the foundation of the Constitution as laid on this ground: That 'all powers not delegated to the United States, by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States or to the people' (10th Amendment). To take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specifically drawn around the powers of Congress, is to take possession of a boundless field of power, no longer susceptible to any definition."

There you have it, if the Constitution does not specifically grant our government a power, then they do not have it, and they cannot assume it, no matter how many people vote for them because they made a promise to do it.

There is a common mentality that government is there to provide things for us. Government benefits, subsidies, and agencies abound whose job it is to take care of us. We believe that it is the job of the government to do these things for us, to ensure that we have all the things we believe we are ‘entitled’ to. I find it funny that at the same time we are asking the government to take care of our every need, we complain that our taxes are too high. Where do people think the money for all these programs comes from?

There are two quotes that people need to ponder in regards to what our government is supposed to do for us. The first is by Thomas Jefferson, “The policy of the American government is to leave their citizens free, neither restraining nor aiding them in their pursuits.”, and the second is by Ben Franklin, “The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.”

So, in our desire to let government pass legislation to benefit us, or to regulate nearly every aspect of our lives, we have opened Pandora's Box. Did we honestly think that once government found it could legislate at will, without restrictions, they would only do what is in our best interest?

Thomas Jefferson warned us that, "Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny." How much more easily would this be possible when the people refuse to monitor the actions of their elected representatives, and in fact, specifically vote for them based upon promises that are a direct violation of their charter of power as found in the Constitution?

Our system of government has gotten so bad that those who hold office no longer represent the people at all. It would not be too far a stretch to say that they may in fact despise us due to the fact that the Constitution grants us more power than it grants them.

Whether their continued efforts to dismantle the restraints upon them found in the Constitution, and to abolish our freedom and liberty as found in the Bill of Rights is something that is happening by design, or by accident, is not the point. The point is that it is happening, and we the people are sitting back and, not only allowing it to happen, but we are supporting it by electing representatives who refuse to govern according to the limitations that are placed upon them by the Constitution.

If our those who hold power no longer represent we the people, then who exactly do they represent? Think about this for a moment. The amount of money needed to run a political campaign is mind boggling, and it has to come from somewhere. Those contributions come from people, groups, and corporations who throw their lot behind the candidate who promises to support their cause, or fight for things that will benefit them.

Therefore, those we elect have gone from being representatives of the people, to special interest lackeys. That alone should be cause for concern. Benito Mussolini, the Italian dictator during World War II, once said, "The first stage of fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of State and corporate power" That is what we have now, a government that cares little for the welfare of the citizenry, instead allowing corporations to run roughshod over the people and to influence policy and legislation, solely for the sake of increased profits and riches.

One look at our government today and we can see what we have wrought by allowing our government to overstep its authority and switch allegiances from the people, to businesses.

One final thought. The question I always find myself asking is this, if the people of this country are unhappy with the state of the Union, why do we always place the blame upon the President when it is Congress who passes the laws? The President merely signs bills or vetoes them, he has no legislative power. If the Congress legislated according to the Constitution many of the programs and agencies of our government would not even exist. Whether they pass laws that are unconstitutional, or if they allow the executive branch to overstep it's boundaries by assuming powers that are not granted it by the Constitution, it is Congress who is to blame for all the problems in this country.

Two recent polls, one by FOX and another by Gallup, show that Congress has a dismal approval rating, wherein roughly 19% of Americans approve of their job performance.

So, why do we see so many incumbents getting re-elected? Why has Senator Robert Byrd, from West Virginia, stayed in office for 49 years, Senator Edward Kennedy for 47 years, Senator Daniel Inouye for 45 years, Senator Theodore Stevens for 39 years, and Senator Joe Biden for 35 years?

My own representatives have been in office for quite some time as well. Senator Diane Feinstein has held her seat since 1992, and my representative in the House, Wally Herger, has been in office for 11 years.

Is it because we are content when our representatives do well in ensuring that our state, or our districts get their slice of the pie from the treasury? Is it because the programs and agencies they create benefit us individually?

That is why I am so critical of the people of this country. We have political stagnation, putrid, rotten officials who have lost touch with the people they represent, yet remain in office because we refuse to vote them out. Sooner or later our apathy and our ignorance of the true nature of government is going to come back and bite us in the ass. With the problems this nation is currently experiencing I fear it is sooner.

If we want to turn things around we must see past the lies and propaganda that is spewed from the mouths of those who seek our votes. We must look past the misinformation that is being told us by the media in regards to the affairs of our government. We must turn off our televisions and take the time to do some research on our own about what our government is doing and how these things affect us. If not, all is lost.

We have allowed thieves, liars, and dare I say traitors, to hold office while they entice us with all sorts of campaign promises in one hand, and rob us of our liberty with the other. All this is happening because the people of this country do not care about whether or not their government has become a polluted cesspool of greed and deceit.

If that is what America wants, that is what America is getting. The only problem that I have with that, is that it affects me as well. And that is why I am so mad at my fellow countrymen.

I would like to finish with one final quote by George Washington, "Let the reins of government then be braced and held with a steady hand, and every violation of the constitution be reprehended. If defective, let it be amended, but not suffered to be trampled upon whilst it has an existence."

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