I spent many years of my life in the right wing, conservative circle of politics, both at the State and Federal levels, including DC. This is the world where conservative thought is developed, articulated, and defended, and also where the next wave of “leaders” are
Something idolized in this sphere is the Constitution. Every thing they do is argued from the standpoint that the Constitution is the center of the universe. Technically, it is the basis for our laws. Practically, it has been degraded and mocked so much that it is mostly irrelevant. If you try to enforce some provision within it, the Court has a ruling somewhere discounting the plain reading of that provision. Most attorneys that claim violations of the Constitution occurred only argue that rights were violated so they can push an agenda, or win attorneys fees.
This document worship has been pushed from the think tanks onto Faux News, and talk radio (by hosts who are paid by institutions, such as The Heritage Foundation, to hawk talking points). Ego-addicts and cultists, such as Glenn Beck, took the document as if it was some angelic revelation, hidden from humanity for a long period of time, and entrusted only to him (and David Barton) for deliverance to the masses.
Even the right-wing critics of the Constitution, such as the John Birch Society, and Eagle Forum, who argue that the document is illegitimate, make arguments from the authority of the Constitution (only when it suits their interests).
Arguing from the Constitution presents many problems for conservatives:
- It doesn’t work as a strategy. Also, name one time when “conservatives” have been successful in passing federal policy.
- Not everyone is a Constitutional scholar, or an attorney.
- no one, outside of think tank employees, has time to care. Sorry, Ted Cruz, but I dont have time to engage in 14 hours of theoretical discussion. I want a wall built stat, us to pull out of Afghanistan, and
an alliance with Russia to reign in the middle eastworld peace.
- it requires arguing from a logical fallacy. Yes, its technically THE authority, but when that authority is eroded, and unenforced, it is useless. Arguing from unenforced law, because I am naive and idealistic, is a waste of time.
- it politicizes the Court to a degree that is unhealthy, and pressures the Court to become political.
- arguing the past, when not connected to an emotional argument concerning current practical application, is a gigantic waste of time for the hyper majority of the electorate. Many on the right are attacking Trump for taking action on the border wall right now. I can take 2 hours and get into the weeds about the development of executive power and foreign policy, or I can simply say: we have a crisis, our government is failing the people and the integrity of our Nation, and Trump is using his authority to do all he can until congress grows up. Which is easier?
- The document produced a system that eventually transformed into what we have today (a failed system).
By the very fact that we have come to this point in American politics, it would be accurate to say that the Constitution is a failed document. One may argue that the reason we have our current government structure is because people failed to honor the constitution, and abide by it. That is true, but then again, the document itself allowed that to happen, with no repercussion (and no one cared or acted to counter anti-constitutional influences). Hopefully we will see a constitutional convention, or a massive break up amongst the states, leading to different forms of government. Note: I personally support creating 2 or 3 countries within our current 50 states, with all falling under a mutual federation that only addresses an interstate system, border control, and a common naval/aerial (and thus nuclear) defense, on the premise of protecting the integrity of our combined boundaries.
For now, stop arguing from the “well the constitution says der der der” line of argumentation, and just focus on advocating the best policies that preserve a capitalist economy, and national integrity. Keep the political inertia by acting so much, and so often, that the courts cannot stop you/us, and buy time to address the constitution later.