L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 191, September 23, 2002
SO WHAT DID WE GET?
Constitution Day, Just What Was There To Celebrate?
Special to TLE
September 17, we are informed, is the day we should celebrate the writing of our Glorious Constitution. This constitution, we are told, saved the new republic from the near anarchy of the inefficient Articles of Confederation. Without this constitution, war debts wouldn't have been paid, taxes couldn't have been raised, armies couldn't have been raised, and we would have had 13 (at that time) separate independent though interrelated governments.
The new constitution, we are told, wouldn't really be centralising the government, it would have three competitive branches, "checks and balances" we are told. In the end, it would even have a "Bill of Rights" to ensure that the government would recognise the Rights given to all men by the Creator. Rights that would be held inviolable by the government.
So what did we get, 215 years later?
The Legislative Branch (Article 1): Congress has the power to declare war. Funny, I didn't see any declaration of war before we started bombing Afghanistan. Now that we are talking about attacking Iraq, the Senate leadership is suggesting we wait for the UN to speak before we even discuss "the use of military force." I still haven't seen anything about a declaration of war before we attack another sovereign country.
The Executive Branch (Article 2): Though the President is the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, I don't see anything about being able to mobilize the troops without a declaration of war. I also don't see anything about "Executive Orders", such as Bush the First's ban on importation of certain military style (read suitable for the unorganized militia) firearms.
The Judicial Branch (Article 3): In section 2, paragraph 3 is stated, "The Trial of all Crimes except in cases of Impeachment; shall be by Jury..." This was not changed by Amendment VI, "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed..." Can you say "enemy combatant"?
What about the Bill of Rights?
Amendment 1- Try advertising your tobacco products on TV, or saying a prayer in school, with other members of your church, synagogue or mosque. Try wearing the symbols of Wicca to school.
Amendment 2- Gone to Home Depot to purchase a Squad Automatic Weapon lately?
Amendment 3- OK, maybe this one's still intact
Amendment 4- No knock search in the middle of the night? Carnivore? Echelon?
Amendment 5- Asset forfeiture, without the accusation of a crime?
Amendment 6- Bench trials. Voir Dire
Amendment 7- Bench trials, again.
Amendment 8- Million Dollar Bail, Thousands of Dollars a day fines, life in prison for non violent (drug) crimes.
Amendment 9- Try telling the government you have rights not listed.
Amendment 10- DOA Appomattox VA 1865.
So again I ask, what was there to celebrate. All the wonderful promises have come to naught. We labor under a tax system by far more confiscatory than any even dreamed of by George III of England. Our politicians (ours not theirs) can't get on the ballot, without jumping through hoops, and spending half the campaign chest. When they get on the ballot, they are shut out of any debates, since they aren't "viable candidates." Trying to organize a militia, such as the Fairfax Militia of the Revolution, will get you put in jail for terroristic activities.
We live in a fantasy. We prattle on about how we are a nation of laws, when our masters won't obey the highest law of the land. More and more of us are getting frustrated. More and more of us are saying where will it end?
At the end of Lincoln's war in 1865, one in ten American males were dead and many more that number wounded.