The Constitution isn't obsolete. Progressivism is obsolete, Progressivism is an utterly bankrupt ideology
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Few things make this conservative happier than when progressives drop their holier-than-thou facade and reveal their true intentions. A column written by NY Times columnist Adam Liptak entitled “‘We the People’ Loses Appeal With People Around the World” is a textbook example. Essentially Mr. Liptak, and no doubt many of his progressive soul-mates, are ready to kick the Constitution of the United States to the curb because they consider it an “obsolete” document. Yet in explaining why, Liptak inadvertently reveals something else along the way: progressivism is an utterly bankrupt ideology.
Why is the Constitution “obsolete?” “There are lots of possible reasons,” writes Liptak. “The United States Constitution is terse and old, and it guarantees relatively few rights. The commitment of some members of the Supreme Court to interpreting the Constitution according to its original meaning in the 18th century may send the signal that it is of little current use to, say, a new African nation. And the Constitution’s waning influence may be part of a general decline in American power and prestige.”
Let me translate for you. Nothing has animated progressives more than the expansion of so-called “rights” — bestowed by government coercion, be it an activist judiciary, executive orders, or Cabinet heads and unelected Czars bypassing Congress. As for the general decline in American power and prestige, it is the Constitution which stands as the best expression of American exceptionalism — and it is precisely that exceptionalism that stands in the way of the progressive One Worlders who would like nothing more that to make national sovereignty an anachronism.
How do the One Worlders get from here to there? “Americans recognize rights not widely protected, including ones to a speedy and public trial, and are outliers in prohibiting government establishment of religion,” writes Liptak. “But the Constitution is out of step with the rest of the world in failing to protect, at least in so many words, a right to travel, the presumption of innocence and entitlement to food, education and health care.”
“At least in so many words” demonstrates the ignorance of the author. If the Founding Fathers were forced to list every right and/or freedom to which people were entitled, their descendants would be still be writing away. Do I have a right to scratch my nose, or mow my lawn? The Ninth and Tenth Amendments solve the problem: IX. The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people; and X. The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
No doubt these are the two Amendments that cause the most consternation among progressives because they reveal the essence of the Constitution itself: it is a document designed for limited government, one whose powers are constrained by the reality that anything not specifically spelled out as an item relegated to its authority is retained by the people themselves.
No doubt Liptak and his fellow travelers consider Constitutionalists out of step because America has yet to reach the tipping point where people are willing to trade the freedom to pursue happiness for entitlements guaranteed by government. Not a safety net for those incapable of taking care of themselves, but an expansion of government to the size where everyone is part of a national safety net. As for the three entitlements Liptak mentions, two of them, food and healthcare, are utter pipe dreams for the same reason. The “entitlement” to either food or healthcare presumes, absent one owning his own farm or obtaining a license to practice medicine, that one can force someone else to do one’s bidding. Really? You can force someone to grow his vegetables for your consumption, or demand that a doctor use his skills to perform surgery on you — because you’re entitled to it, no less? Good luck with that, comrade. And even better luck with forcing someone to become a farmer or a doctor in the first place when such is little more than a ticket to indentured servitude.
As for education being an entitlement, no one has done more than progressives to ensure that public school education remains a monopoly so suffocating as to make the word entitlement meaningless. In America one is certainly entitled to attend a public school — just not a good public school. Either your children go to the one specifically designated for where you live, no matter how horrendous it is, or you must opt out of the system entirely. The obvious alternative to such a restriction is a voucher system that puts money for schooling in the hands of the parents and turns them into free agents, capable of picking the school of their choice. That’s a genuine entitlement, which is why progressives, beholden to their union masters, fight such a choice, also known as educational freedom, tooth and nail.
Liptak goes on. “The rights guaranteed by the American Constitution are parsimonious by international standards, and they are frozen in amber. As Sanford Levinson wrote in 2006 in ‘Our Undemocratic Constitution,’ ‘the U.S. Constitution is the most difficult to amend of any constitution currently existing in the world today.’ (Yugoslavia used to hold that title, but Yugoslavia did not work out.)” The first sentence is a flat out lie. The Constitution is not “frozen in amber.” It’s been amended 27 times since its adoption. The second sentence is the kicker: progressives don’t like the amendment process, because getting two-thirds of Congress and three-fourths of the state legislatures to agree on something is too “difficult.” No doubt it is — for an ideology that worships both moral relativism and instant gratification. The idea that the amendment process is both deliberative and requires the consent of an overwhelming majority of Americans who still believe in the concept of a democratic republic, as opposed to the fevered idiosyncrasies of mob rule, must grate quite a bit on our more “enlightened” brethren of the left.
So what grates even more? “[The Constitution] has its idiosyncrasies. Only 2 percent of the world’s constitutions protect, as the Second Amendment does, a right to bear arms. (Its brothers in arms are Guatemala and Mexico.)” I guess we’re all Mexicans and Guatemalans now, if a right to bear arms is seen by progressives as an “idiosyncrasy.” It’s exactly that idiosyncrasy that remains the primary bulwark against those who would kick the Constitution to the curb because, as Washington University professor David Law puts it, there are “newer, sexier and more powerful operating systems in the constitutional marketplace.”
Let me tell you what is really going on here. Up until now, serious political differences between the left and the right have been constrained by one thing and one thing only: the Constitution. That is not to say one cannot have a political debate without that particular document as a backdrop. But such debates are essentially meaningless without it, much like the game of baseball would be if no one could agree on the number of balls and strikes that were permitted. One could still play a game with balls and bats, but it wouldn’t be baseball if one batter got three strikes and another one got four or six.
What Mr. Liptak is revealing is that progressives can no longer compete in the arena of political ideas — unless the fundamental rules of the game are changed. In order for their arguments to prevail, the Constitution must be rendered obsolete and replaced with a “sexier” document, one in which amendments can enacted in a far less “cumbersome” manner than they are right now.
I’ve got news for Adam and his pals. The Constitution isn’t obsolete. Progressivism is obsolete.