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Mt. Pleasant, Michigan 2014

Front Page

Volume 7, Issue 2

February 12, 2014


By Ivan W. Parkins


A popular joke after Franklin Roosevelt’s record victory in 1936 was that he had a way to balance the budget.  He would sell Maine and Vermont to Canada.  They were the only states that did not give him their electoral votes.  He was our first President to win more than 500 of the votes that our Constitution makes decisive.  Such a win became possible after we had forty-eight states with two Senators each and 435 Representatives to make up the Electoral College.


That win also gave FDR the greatest partisan margin of support in Congress in our history; more than 4 to 1 in the Senate and almost that much in the House.  But, when the President attempted to pack the Supreme Court with additional members, neither the American media (then mostly print) nor the Congress was cooperative.  Resignations and deaths soon enabled him to change the Court, but the leader who was by popular election standards our most overwhelming had not gone unchecked.


More recently, partisanship has become more monolithic, i.e. nationalized.  That is part of what has centralized our government functions in Washington.  But much of the centralization process has been a media phenomenon.  And that, until very recently, favored the Democrats, especially new Democrats, professional communicators and bureaucrats.


Lyndon Johnson, the greatest Democrat election winner since FDR, fell a little short of the 500 electoral vote mark, but both he and Democrat Carter began with extensive congressional and media support.  The two Republicans who followed them were both reelected to our top office with more than 500 electoral votes.  Only the District of Columbia voted against a second term for Reagan. 


FDR not only won his record reelection; he continued winning (by shrinking margins) until death intervened. But, Johnson was discouraged from even running again, Nixon was driven from office, and Reagan’s record win brought him four years of bitter congressional and media attacks. 


Clearly, something unprecedented has been at work in our politics.  For me at least, it emerged from the Election of 1968.  I had been an active Democrat for nearly a quarter of a century.  I saw the “New” Democrats as abandoning much of what the party had stood for, especially national security and international leadership.  And it appeared to me that Democrats were leaving to the Republicans most of what remained of traditional  America.  I’ve now been a regular supporter of Republicans for more than forty years. 







This is an abbreviated version of the article originally published in Vol. 2, Issue 17

(July, 2009)

By Ivan W. Parkins


      Rarely, if ever, has an Administration of the United States demonstrated so little appreciation of what constitutional democracy means as both the President and the Secretary of State did recently regarding events in Honduras.  It only deepens the question of their wisdom when we note that both have extensive legal back grounds. Yes, President Zelaya had been duly elected, but he was seeking, illegally, to force a plebiscite that would likely extend his rule.


     Even allowing for the embarrassment of President Zelaya’s undignified deportation in the hands of the military, the legislative and judicial heads of Honduran government acted, in a constitutional sense, far more appropriately than either Zelaya or our own top executives did.


     No doubt the incident is a major thorn in the side of our own Administration, considering that we are trying to oversee pending elections in two nascent constitutional democracies.  Still, such a display of low regard for “constitutionalism” as opposed to “democracy” is not helpful.


      For more than two millennia political thought has featured mob rule as the demise of democracy.  The Constitution of the United States has become an international symbol  of how democracy can be tamed from its wilder past excesses.



From Issue 3, Volume 3, 2010

By Ivan W. Parkins


The huge numbers of miscellaneous Americans who have turned out for “Tea Parties,” protesting the political stalemate and fiscal crisis that we face, are a strong indication that more than contemporary policy issues is at stake.  The seed for this present crisis was planted more than two centuries ago in the adoptions of our Constitution and our Bill of Rights.  Only the Civil War of the early 1860s has exceeded the present threat to the very skeleton of our nation!


“We the People of the United States,” ratified those basic documents.  And from them, plus an environment especially well suited to the founding of a new and significantly different nation, America has prospered.  But the more than two centuries of our growth, and changing social conditions, have required amendments.  Our Founding Fathers anticipated that, but not the likelihood that their own first proposal of amendment would not be ratified.


When, yielding to popular pressures, James Madison and others of the First Congress of the United States drafted proposals for a bill of rights, the first right that they attempted to assure was fair and adequate allotments of Representatives.  But that is now the only one of their proposals that has never been ratified—and the original language is now quite out dated by huge population growth and other factors.


As a result, what was originally intended to be, and to remain, the branch of government most representative of “we the people,” is now arguably the least representative, and in the present instance is probably the most hated, of our federal elective authorities.  It is a crisis relating intimately to our Constitution, and imperiling the future of our nation.  We need a replacement for the originally proposed first amendment.  We need a much more intimate system of representation.

Letter to the Editor:


July 8, 2003

The Know-it-all Elites

By Ivan W. Parkins

Two recent columns, Thomas Sowell’s 7/6 and Charles Krauthammer’s 7/7, offer particularly enlightening comments on erosions of law and democracy in America.


However, political and legal theories provide a more general explanation.  In Marxist theory legal continuity (tradition) and objectivity are rejected as products of capitalism.  The courts and laws are regarded as simply other instruments by which a ruling class imposes its will upon society.


Thomas Sowell’s repetition of Justice Thomas’ reference to “the know-it-all elites” is especially significant.  America’s know-it-all elites are, or at least seek to be, a new ruling class.  Given the revolution in mass communications, professional communicators (academics and artists as well as journalists) are, arguably, the most powerful minority in the United States.  And their “liberalism” is mostly an egocentric illusion.


Erich Fromm in his BEYOND THE CHAINS OF ILLUSION identifies Marx’s key idea; it is that to understand man, society, and politics one must first cast off all vestiges of capitalistic culture and morality.  Those who do so, and only they, can avoid being blinded by illusions.  Thus anti-capitalists become know-it-alls, and the potential liberators of mankind.


Unfortunately, many of our most prestigious universities and law schools are severely infected with at least that Marxist viewpoint.  It is a view which intoxicates its followers with the promise of power, and which has little respect for the continuity of legal tradition or the values of popular majorities.


Did we lose the most subtle battle of the Cold War?



Progressivism in the Judiciary

By Ivan W. Parkins


The vote of the Senate refusing to confirm the nomination of Berkeley Law Professor Goodwin Liu to the Ninth U.S. Circuit court of Appeals should be regarded as both one small victory for constitutionalism in America and as a frightening warning to this nation.  Only one Senator of each party changed sides in the vote, with a majority but less than the required 60 voting to confirm.  Is our constitutionalism a mere partisan issue?


Professor Liu is an outspoken advocate of “progressive” constitutionalism.  Constitutionalism as it originated, and has mostly been preserved, in the United States is not “progressive.”  It originated, and has largely been preserved, as the foundation of our representative, but limited, government.  It may be changed, but only by processes that require repeated and super-majority approvals.


“Progressivism” by mere judicial interpretations of the Constitution is revolutionary, i.e. contrary to the very purpose of the Constitution itself.  It should be sufficient grounds for the impeachment of any official who has taken an oath to uphold the Constitution.


Far too many American law professors, even professors of Constitutional Law, are either ignorant of how our Constitution came to be and what it means, or are guilty of seeking to subvert it.