What would the Progressive Constitution look like?
The way Progressives treat (interpret and apply) our Constitution, you’d think that this was the document they were reading when (if) they ever do bother to read the Constitution:
We the People of the United States of America, in order to do whatever we want, do establish and empower the National Government of the United States to tax and to regulate anyone and everything.
I think most us here recognize that the Framers were far too conservative and not so naïve as to have wanted our liberty to be so freely usurped, and thus were more inclined to limit the power of those who would govern us with more precise and explicit provisions, rather than enabling their power to endlessly expand with vague and implicit ones (provisions). Maybe that’s why our Constitution is actually a few thousand words longer than the musing above.
It’s sad that Progressives are so blinded by their ends that they’re willing to risk being oppressed by those who don’t share their goals simply to break down some constitutional barriers to their factional mischiefs. It reminds me of a so-called Conservative who, when I proposed rejecting all federal direct grants to individuals that are not explicitly authorized by the enumerated powers, squawked that that was a bad idea because it would prevent the future institution of federal vouchers for education.
What got me thinking about this was an opinion piece by James Antle in the American Spectator, entitled “Chaplin’s Constitution.” Antle makes quick work of refuting the progressive assertion that the Constitution is virtually unknowable and is more about procedural than substantive constraints of government. Here’s a sample:
Now you can edit Legal Affairs and write for the New Republic, the New Yorker, U.S. News and World Report, and the New York Times while guided by the apparent belief that these basics are incoherent mumbo-jumbo. There have been disagreements about the size and scope of the federal government since beginning of the Republic. But the notion that the Constitution imposed substantive, rather than merely procedural, limitations on that government was for a long time fairly uncontroversial.
As recently as the early 20th century, the consensus was that it would require a constitutional amendment to give the federal government the power to ban the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcoholic beverages. In 1933, it took a second constitutional amendment to repeal this power. Today, if Washington were inclined to ban Demon Rum it would be justified under the pretext of regulating interstate commerce.
While Progressives may find it difficult to comprehend the Constitution’s many substantive constraints of the national government, they’re quite astute at finding substantive constraints upon the states and by default all sorts of rights under the 14th amendment. I think Antle would agree that these progressive interpretations of the 14th amendment are equally confused. Clearly such substantive constraints of the states were never intended when the 14th amendment was ratified as evidenced by the consensus that even its equal protection clause did not guarantee blacks and women the same right to vote that white men enjoyed at the time, and that an amendment would ultimately be needed to make these rights constitutional.