Dismantling America

Lincoln once noted that 'A house divided against itself cannot stand.' What, then, should be done when the 'house' consists not of warring geographical sections, but of the people vs. the government?

"We the people" are the familiar opening words of the Constitution of the United States — the framework for a self-governing people, free from the arbitrary edicts of rulers. It was the blueprint for America, and the success of America made that blueprint something that other nations sought to follow.
At the time when it was written, however, the Constitution was a radical departure from the autocratic governments of the 18th century. Since it was something so new and different, the reasons for the Constitution's provisions were spelled out in "The Federalist," a book written by three of the writers of the Constitution, as a sort of instruction guide to a new product.
The Constitution was not only a challenge to the despotic governments of its time, it has been a continuing challenge — to this day — to all those who think that ordinary people should be ruled by their betters, whether an elite of blood, or of books or of whatever else gives people a puffed-up sense of importance.
While the kings of old have faded into the mists of history, the principle of the divine rights of kings to impose whatever they wish on the masses lives on today in the rampaging presumptions of those who consider themselves anointed to impose their notions on others.
The Constitution of the United States is the biggest single obstacle to the carrying out of such rampaging presumptions, so it is not surprising that those with such presumptions have led the way in denigrating, undermining and evading the Constitution.
While various political leaders have, over the centuries, done things that violated either the spirit or the letter of the Constitution, few dared to openly say that the Constitution was wrong and that what they wanted was right.
It was the Progressives of a hundred years ago who began saying that the Constitution needed to be subordinated to whatever they chose to call "the needs of the times." Nor were they content to say that the Constitution needed more Amendments, for that would have meant that the much disdained masses would have something to say about whether, or what kind, of Amendments were needed.
The agenda then, as now, has been for our betters to decide among themselves which Constitutional safeguards against arbitrary government power should be disregarded, in the name of meeting "the needs of the times" — as they choose to define those needs.
The first open attack on the Constitution by a President of the United States was made by our only president with a Ph.D., Woodrow Wilson. Virtually all the arguments as to why judges should not take the Constitution as meaning what its words plainly say, but "interpret" it to mean whatever it ought to mean, in order to meet "the needs of the times," were made by Woodrow Wilson.
It is no coincidence that those who imagine themselves so much wiser and nobler than the rest of us should be in the forefront of those who seek to erode Constitutional restrictions on the arbitrary powers of government. How can our betters impose their superior wisdom and virtue on us, when the Constitution gets in the way at every turn, with all its provisions to safeguard a system based on a self-governing people?
To get their way, the elites must erode or dismantle the Constitution, bit by bit, in one way or another. What that means is that they must dismantle America. This has been going on piecemeal over the years but now we have an administration in Washington that circumvents the Constitution wholesale, with its laws passed so fast that the public cannot know what is in them, its appointment of "czars" wielding greater power than Cabinet members, without having to be exposed to pubic scrutiny by going through the confirmation process prescribed by the Constitution for Cabinet members.
Now there is leaked news of plans to change the immigration laws by administrative fiat, rather than Congressional legislation, presumably because Congress might be unduly influenced by those pesky voters— with their Constitutional rights — who have shown clearly that they do not want amnesty and open borders, despite however much our betters do.

If the Obama administration gets away with this, and can add a few million illegals to the voting rolls in time for the 2012 elections, that can mean reelection, and with it a continuing and accelerating dismantling of America.

Thomas Sowell is a Senior Fellow at The Hoover Institution at Stanford University in California. He has published dozens of books on economics, education, race, and other topics. His most recent book is The Housing Boom and Bust, from April 2009.

6 comments from readers  

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Personally I think it's delusional to put any faith in the constitution or its founders. Put simply, "either the constitution was intended to create the government we have or it was powerless to prevent it". Either way, it is of no value, and no return to constitutional principles is going to save anyone. Further, whatever its intent, it began to be perverted to the ends of politicos only a few short years (if not days or hours) after its adoption.

At its base the federal government is a gang like any other, instituted by fiat and without the consent of its claimed subjects; violence, abuse and exploitation is at its heart and an inseparable part of its nature. To see its constitution further dismantled is no great loss; it brings us one step closer to public recognition of the inherent lawlessness of all violent organizations, whatever colors and costumes their thugs and officers wear. Tyrants are a perverse sort of ally in that they more readily tear away the mask of civility that hides the inherent violence of authority. Until it is recognized for what it is none of us has any hope of living in a sane, objective, voluntarily organized society - so I say, distort away.
Great article, but I am not convinced that it will have lasting meaning for your readersâ?¦ I say this with a great deal of respect, so please allow me to explainâ?¦

Most Americans have no meaningful understanding of the political-, economic-, and social-climate of the times around the revolt of the colonies. It seems very hopeful to assume that an audience that lacks the foundation from which you build your thoughts will attain any profound enlightenment.

If you care to move the people, you have to teach them about the main influences on this country since its inception... teach them about the actual commercial dynamics of the East India Trading company and the reign of Lord Shelburne.

For that matter, teach them that the "American Revolution" had battles going on all over the globe and that the Constitution of these united States, in its essence, is an involuntary bankruptcy re-organization by the creditors because the â??self-governedâ? wouldn't pay â??theirâ? debts.

You may have to explain to them that England is a rock in the middle of the ocean, and that the word "British" is the name of an empireâ?¦ and â??empiresâ? are monetary / legal systems.

It may be more effective to stop attacking the politicians; they are merely tools of the international-corporations. The international-corporations are tools of the international-banks, and the international-banks are the tools of the British Empire (Lord Rothschildâ??s Inter-Alpha Group controls 70% of all the world's debt / currency)... so go after the root-causeâ?¦ go after the British.

This country will latch on to thatâ?¦ the tea party roots are there already.
The Constitution was a framework to create a government. Following that framework would not have allowed the eveolution of the government of today.

A student of history (the real one, not what one learned in HS) would recognize Dr. Sowell's comments are spot on.

When the Supreme Court "followed" the Progressive movement and began to interpret the meaning of words, and give meaning to the "white space" between the lines, we began our decent to where we find ourselves today: The Wilson contrived entry to W1; the Federal Reserve; FDR and contrived entry to W2; Social Security; and on and on.

We the people provided the breeding ground for the virus that Justen calls tyrants, thugs, gangs, etc. Our educational system is designed to keep the public ignorant, so when they reach the age to vote, the dismantling can continue. When more of your voting public can tell you who won the last "american idol" yet not know even 5 of the first 10 amendments (Bill of Rights) you know you're in trouble. Uninformed, and poorly educated, the public Justen speak to will never recognize it; they don't even recognize it now, as it is going on weekly, and in cases Dr. Sowell points out in his article.

What Justen wants, and I'm not inclined to disagree, is a revolution....again. Then lets start anew with the same Constitution to frame the government that was intended by its authors.
Thanks for another great column. At least President Obama has awaked a lot of people to the dangers of big government. If McCain had been elected, we might have seen much of the same damage, while fewer voices would be able to oppose him. Hopefully the next election will finally offer us some decent candidates.
Ben Franklin clearly recognized that the American People had to believe in and understand the Constitution if the limited government republic it set up were to continue to exist. The failures attributed by some to our Constitution are actually failures of the American People to understand and support the Constitution. With due diligence, our Constitution would be strong to this day. That diligence required that each and every generation of Americans should have been educated in our colonial, revolutionary, and later history, as well as having an appreciation for the failures of monarchies, dictatorships, oligarchies, and, yes, democracies throughout human history.

Allowing the Progressives to turn us from private education to public education give them all the long-term advantages in the fight to maintain legitimate government as defined in our Declaration of Independence. Legitimate government protects the equal, sovereign right of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. All the implied rights should have been discussed endlessly in our schools and they almost never are discussed beyond the First Amendment.

The fact that Congress has only a few powers closely delineated and most of them relate to dealings with external countries and people is not taught. These powers are further restricted by the requirement that they be exercised only in accordance with the General Welfare. The power to tax is given only to carry out the enumerated powers and is further restricted in kind. The interstate commerce clause's purpose was to free interstate trade because a man in one state has a right to trade with a man in another state. The Ninth Amendment recognizes that the federal government cannot infringe upon our many individual rights or privileges and immunities. The Tenth Amendment further protects our right to local government for such other purposes of government as we may have need. The Fourteenth Amendment protects our privileges and immunities from infringement by state and local governments. All this could have been taught in the schools, but we gave the schools away to the Progressives and to the governments from which we need protection. Government-run schools have a serious conflict-of-interest. They will distort the Constitution in order to give government the power that governments always lust for.

The crucial issue of our day is the protection of our equal, sovereign individual rights. This cannot be achieved without the private education of American children with a greatly renewed interest in history and the principles of legitimate government.
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Excellent essay.

I take Justen's point however on the Constitution: If it had been perfectly designed (and I believe it was intended by the founders to set up a democratic meritocracy) then the cream, not the scum, would rise to the top.

But it does. Presidents are always Ivy League thugs (which unfortunately is no longer indicative of competent scholarship so much as it is of "belonging to the right circle of Bubbas." That's all that counts in a hierarchy when you have the Rule of Man, not of Law!)

Without further amendment, The Constitution will continue to crown dynasties of thugs, and reward the most ruthless and manipulative; will use the productive like a milch cow, will peddle exclusive franchises to wealthy patrons (be they foreign or domestic!), will pander to the greedy (Republicans) and the envious (Democrats), and will divide us even further into the Tyrants and the Torturable Class.

Still I believe it is not too late to step back from the precipice and avert revolution. Revolution by itself has never resolved anything, it only replaces one set of tyrants with another set, (usually more hairy and prone to all-day speechifying and wearing fatigues to cocktail parties.)

I think positive change can be accomplished largely with three (3) well-thought-out Amendments, which I will not bore you with here.

Dr. Sowell, have you ever written anything about the Torturable class? You should! First re-read Graham Greene's description of the concept in his novel "Our Man in Havana." I think you will find it apt for our times, especially if you fly commercially and have dealt with TSA lately. I believe if we suffer a revolution, it is going to start at an airport!
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