Ivan W. Parkins

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Text Box: Volume 3, Issue 9
Text Box: April 23, 2010

American Political Commentary

Veritas Veneratio Virtus



About Ivan W. Parkins:

Dr. Parkins is a retired professor of Political Science from Central Michigan University.  He received his PhD from the University of Chicago and is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy.  Dr. Parkins served as a naval officer during WWII aboard the battleship Alabama.  He is a recent widower with three daughters, 3 grand children and 2 great grand children.  Dr. Parkins has written extensively, having authored 3 books and a newspaper opinion column for many years. 

Front Page

In This Issue: Representation and Free Speech

►Our Original First Amendment

►The Original Third Amendment

►Constitutionalism, It remains an obstacle!

►Various Letters to the Editor

        THE CONSTITUTIONAL ISSUE: 1930s VS 2010s


By Ivan W. Parkins



There is at least one striking difference between the situation today and that of four score years ago.  Then, the President and the majority party in Congress gained office by larger majorities, and those majorities were further extended in two successive elections.  In electoral terms, the Administration of Franklin Roosevelt was a unique episode of our history.  Furthermore, that electoral triumph was achieved in spite of the continuing bitter opposition of most elements in the traditional media.


The present Administration has yet to display any evidence of growing or lasting popularity.  And, unlike the issues of long ago, this administration’s appeal has been strongly supported by most of the traditional media, journalistic and academic.


If further evidence of thin ice is needed, consider that some major elements of the coalition supporting the Obama Administration are potentially major embarrassments to the nation internationally, if not domestically.  The environmental movement of the United States has recently been the foremost contributor to an unprecedented genocide—unprecedented mainly because it was primarily a product of regulatory haste rather than of totalitarian hate.  Additionally, the now largely unionized education profession has converted what was once perhaps the world’s leading educational system into a largely stagnant promoter of political correctness.


Surely there are constitutional grounds here enough to delay any blessing by the nation’s Supreme Court, at least to a point beyond the opportunity for Americans to register another statement of their sovereign intent.




A carry over from last issue,

but very relevant today.

By Ivan W. Parkins


In 1776, it wasn’t that the British were, for that time, terrible rulers.  Indeed many of their political gifts to the world survive today, especially here.  It was, then, that too much of the political and economic tradition that prevailed over there fit poorly the geographical and social circumstances that prevailed in thirteen American colonies.  Our first war for independence had a substantial real world basis, and the out come has long since ratified its initial uncertainty.


So why, now, do we need another war for independence?  Actually, I believe that the “Tea Party Movement” may be right again.  And, by that I suggest that the Obama Administration is no more comprehending of prevailing realities than George III was long ago.  Of course the real world and the size of its human content are much changed during more than two intervening centuries.  But, greater numbers and more complex organizations have not altered fundamentally the nature of human individuals.


Our great challenge, today, is how best to meld an erupting mass of new details about our world, both natural and social, with the high value of freedoms for both individuals and private organizations. I can see little evidence that the Obama Administration has taken time to think much about any challenge beyond the means of establishing its own domestic hegemony.


2/21/94, not published


Good News on Race:  Thanks for John Leo’s excellent column “A Sunny Side on Race” (January 24).  Unfortunately, the charge of racism has become one of the instruments by which a new elite asserts its intellectual and moral superiority over traditional America.  Burgeoning numbers of “liberally educated” persons, plus advances in communication, have provided opportunities for the new elite to contend for power with old elites and popular majorities.  Until the contest is resolved, the common decency of most Americans is unlikely to prevail.  “Ordinary politics,” in racial and other important matters, is not an option.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR, The Detroit News, 06/16/02


No Equal Cultures


     The idea, advanced by some intellectuals, that all cultures are equal is as shallow as Thomas Sowell (“D’Souza carefully defends what’s so great about America,” June 2) and D’Souza’s book suggest.


     Equality of cultures makes little sense except when considered from a couple of half-true premises: that the human species is unique because of individual creativity and that culture is the product of individuals.


     Creative impulses originate in individuals, but they materialize, or not, out of opportunities provided by society.


     The most pertinent deduction from the binary view of human creativity is that enduring social systems are no less precious than individual liberties.  The ideology that fails to value society highly because it worships individual liberties is as much a threat to mankind as that which would sacrifice freedoms thoughtlessly to preserve a particular society. Maintaining a creative balance of individual liberties and social order is the perennial challenge to humanity, and the way to a better future for more Americans.


7/31/98, unpublished

Justice Thomas and Free Speech

Your July 31 editorial “Justice Thomas’ Speech” is a first-rate treatment of the contemporary scene, but much too conventional regarding the history and theory of free speech.


Our Founding Fathers, i.e. the First Congress led by James Madison, offered a formula for representation ratios as the first amendment.  It remains unratified.  Their second proposal was recently ratified as the Twenty-Seventh Amendment.  The amendment which is now accepted as the first was third among those originally proposed.


The screaming students whose behavior is rationalized as a manifestation of free speech owe more to psychology, the popularizing of self-expression long after the Founders became “dead white males,” than to anything venerable.


Participation of the public in political dialog is the original, and still essential object of free speech.  And, the Founder’s first proposal, keeping representation ratios at a level which facilitates one-on-one communication between voters and their Representatives, may still be a vital element of that.


By Ivan W. Parkins

More on the Intent of the Original 3rd. Amendment

Graduate studies in the late 1940s extended my regard for the First Amendment.  I did a master’s paper on it.  The Commission on Freedom of the Press had just reported.  Neither that nor the, then, relatively limited other sources that I found alerted me to the fact that what the Founders intended as our third amendment had become our First.


Perhaps a better researcher than I can now explain the matter in greater detail.  But, the ratification processes in the states were neither very orderly nor very well recorded.  And states were quite jealous of which got how many Representatives.


The amendment that we now have as First is not likely to be displaced.  But, isn’t there a greater question?  Is unlimited self-expression the most vital avenue to popular sovereignty?  May not a representation formula that favors one-on-one contacts between citizens and their Representative contribute more to government by the people than raucous shouting in the streets –- or in auditoriums of our universities?


And it wasn’t free speech which was third among the original 12


By Ivan W. Parkins


America’s regard for the First Amendment as virtual “Holy Writ” is, I believe, misplaced.  It contributes to political confusion, and it lacks solid historical and logical support.  Therefore, I am repeating, with slight editing, the earliest portion of this Commentary.


“Shouldn’t Americans be aware of what the First Congress of the United States chose as the first amendment in our Bill of Rights?  It is now the only one of their original twelve proposals never to have been ratified by the required three fourths of states.  James Madison and the others, many of the Framers of the Constitution, placed the ratio of Representatives to population first among the rights of persons in our new republic.  They were considering ratios of one Representative to 30,000—50,000 people.”




Article the first …After the first enumeration required by the first Article of the Constitution, there shall be one Representative for every thirty thousand, until the number shall amount to one hundred, after which, the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall be not less than one hundred Representatives, nor less than one Representative for every forty thousand persons, until the number of Representatives shall amount to two hundred, after which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall not be less than two hundred Representatives, nor more than one Representative for every fifty thousand persons.


Today, our U.S. Representatives are each expected to represent more than a dozen people for every one that the original plan envisioned.  Yes, communication is much easier and faster now.  But, the portion of people eligible to vote is vastly larger now.  Originally, voting was mostly limited to adult white males, and like most other Americans, most white males were not likely to live beyond their teens.


With about 700,000 people in the average congressional district today, and only a little over 500,000 minutes in a year, even a Representative who doesn’t eat, sleep, or have other personal needs can not allow one minute of his/her time to each constituent.  That, I claim, is the greatest distortion of our Constitution that Americans have allowed to occur.

It confuses and distorts how popular sovereignty can be expressed in the United States.