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Text Box: Vol.5, Issue 25
Text Box: November 12, 2012

I. W. Parkins

Front Page

 Links to Articles and Items of Interest

· Ann Coulter on “Demography is Destiny

· CSMonitor-Deborah Charles on “Voting Issues Emerge”

· UK Mail on “General Patraeus Affair

· Amy Payne on “The Threats of a Lame Duck Congress”

· Ann Coulter on “Don’t Blame Romney”

· Thomas Sowell on “The Fallacy of Redistribution”

· Breitbart.com– stories which are not seen in “the media”

· The Drudge Report— Current events website by Matt Drudge

· The Heritage Foundation Blog

Text Box:  IN THIS ISSUE– The aftermath ELECTION DAY 2012
Memory of What Political Past?
The Great Constitutional Question-Reprise
Graph on Entitlements versus Defense Budget-Reprise
Freedom’s Choices-Reprise

American Political Commentary

 

Veritas Veneratio Virtus

MEMORY OF WHAT

POLITICAL PAST?

By Ivan W. Parkins

           It is very difficult to judge the intensity and danger of political issues without some standard from times past to compare with times present.  Personally, I find it difficult to fear these times as much as I once did those that I have known.

           One period that stands out is from a little over fifty years ago.  My wife and I both taught in schools just a few miles from the center of Jacksonville, Florida, and we had three daughters in public schools very near home.  For an intense few days we struggled and planned how we would deal with the predicted Soviet missile barrage from Cuba.  I’m still relieved that it did not happen. 

           Meanwhile, just a short time later, I was invited, by our J.U. President, to involve myself in debates relating to America’s involvement with the United Nations-- at that time and place a racial issue.  I was not really a whole hearted supporter of UN, for technical reasons.  But the allegation that it threatened racial segregation was not one of those.  And, at that early stage of much fewer UN memberships, I could begin with the fact that there had never been a major vote against the interests of the United States, or many votes with which we had not agreed.

           Defending our membership in the United Nations helped to get me an invitation to debate Upton Sinclair III before a substantial audience, as the Liberal opposing Conservatism.  In the public participation portion of that, a man rose from a remote seat to volunteer that he was sent there to learn what I looked like, since I was on his list of security responsibilities. From a friend who was better informed locally than I, I learned that those occupants of the front row wearing “never” buttons were KKK. Later I received in the mail a card informing me of my vulnerability, on alleged security grounds, if there should be war with Cuba.  One of my colleagues, a neighbor of the local FBI chief, was asked to examine.  I provided it, and soon got it back without comment.

           I’ve found the later half of my life, spent in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, a bit less tense, but perhaps more noisy where news media are concerned.  And, do my progeny really enjoy greater security?

 THE GREAT

CONSTITUTIONAL QUESTION

By Ivan W. Parkins

           It is not what does some provision of the Constitution mean?  It is what does CONSTITUTIONALISM mean?

           To the classical Greeks, and many who have followed them, constitutions have been little more than descriptions of how power was distributed, or not shared, in a particular government.

           Among later Western intellectuals there developed views that people who shared a culture, especially a language, should have a government in which traditional practices and laws defined both the sharing of powers and the respective rights of monarchs and their various classes of subjects.  That, especially in England, became more and more closely defined by practice and in the courts, but was never codified into, or ratified as, the constitution.

           The charters of colonies in what has become the United States were, in some respects models for governments whose forms and powers were defined in a single document.  Prior to our Revolution the document was usually issued by royal authority.

           The ideas that peoples’ rights were primary, and that governments were created by popular authority, were growing.  And the colonies remoteness plus the lack of well entrenched earlier authorities or legal systems facilitated a relatively “clean” start here.  Once the royal governors were driven out, the rebellious colonies drafted and adopted their own constitutions. A loose unity was also established under Articles of Confederation. And with independence from Britain won, we were free to become, but not actually yet, a nation.

           The framers of our Constitution were motivated largely by conflicts both within and between our states, and by the inadequacy of central government under the Articles.  They exceeded their authority, and acted in a well kept secrecy to draft a central government capable of making us a nation.  To assure that, it had to be presented as an act by “We the people of the United States,” and ratified by conventions in the states.  Now after more than two centuries of (mainly) successes it has been confirmed in the real world as one of humanity’s all-time achievements.

           Our Constitution does provide for changes, and several major ones have been added by amendments. The document is however brief, and numerous lesser changes to our political system have been added by Supreme Court interpretation and extra-legal political practices, for example the role of political parties.  But, such changes are readily reversed by means similar to those that created them, if they prove unwise in practice.

           The British system, lacking any single constitutional document, assigns constitutional importance to a variety of documents and precedents. One is that if the House of Commons wants to change or add to those, the Government (leading party) should propose the change, then call a national election, and make the change law if returned to power by that election.

           The greatest danger of our proposed health care changes is that they will create fundamental alterations of our political system without either the extended formalities of a constitutional amendment or the open and popular process that the British system provides.  Such changes will enjoy neither the respect of constitutionality nor the public authentication of any truly popular approval.

           In short, the Obama Administration is persistently seeking health reforms of a huge, complex, and still largely secret specific nature. It seems intent upon doing so by any means that can even pretend to be legal.  That amounts to an attempted coup. Even if it is initially successful, it deserves to be generally condemned as destructive to our constitutional system.

  FREEDOM’S CHOICES

By Ivan W. Parkins

 

     We, and all of mankind, face an especially complex, but potentially fruitful, problem.  It is how much freedom? And it is especially, what freedoms for whom?

     Individuals are not, never were, and can be only briefly (as they die off), totally free.  Especially as numbers of humans have grown, we have compromised individual freedoms socially to enhance freedoms from natural hazards, and to make our lives more fruitful.

     That, for the most part, has been a gain.  Our more remote ancestors were much less free than we are.  But it was not due primarily to social rules or to other humans.  The first hominids faced natural hazards, as does every sparse and, in some respects, weak species.  By joint efforts and particularly by the cultivating and sharing of our unique mental and communications capacities, we have become dominant among the Earth’s creatures.  The price of that is, and will continue to be, some restrictions of individual freedoms in the interest of communal security against hazards that can easily crush individuals or small communities.

     The principle is a simple one.  Its specific applications are increasingly numerous and complex.  The survival and advance of mankind has been, and can be, long lasting and grand.  The survival of most individuals can be made more likely and more self-satisfying, but only as individuals participate within a larger context.

     To this point in history, the most effective large unit of human cooperation has been the nation state, and organized as a constitutional democracy.  As Americans, we enjoy membership in a particularly successful one.  If we fail to support it thoughtfully and with our lives, we are likely to see that much of what we have valued as our freedom will disappear.

Graph Below

Please note: The blue national defense line has been mainly downward since the Tet Offensive (1968) in Vietnam.  The large bump upward from the early 1980s to the early 1990s is a Reagan-Bush period during which we pressured the Soviet Union to the point of ending both that political giant and the main threat of atomic war.  That was followed by Clinton's great economies, soon followed by the first Twin Tower
bombing, and later by the total destruction of two of our African embassies, and the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole. Defense spending has increased again since 9/11/01, but at a much lower level than in 1968, or 1985.  The red, entitlement spending, has increased almost steadily throughout the same period.