Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Constitutional Football

The two-minute warning has sounded and the Liberals are in the huddle.  The key to winning the game is to destroy the United States’ legal foundation – it’s Constitution.  The quarterback (Obama) tells his team the code word for the play is “irrelevance.”  The youth, meaning anyone up to the age of 35, are crucial to winning.  If the cheerleaders portray the U.S. Constitution as ancient and irrelevant, they score the winning touchdown for Communism.

As the cheerleaders go all out to encourage that team spirit, enlisting the aid even of half-time star Clint Eastwood, Supreme Court Jusitce Ruth Bader Ginsberg goes out wide for the pass – all the way to Egypt, in fact, where she tells the nascent revolutionary movement for “democracy” that they should not use the U.S. Constitution as their model for a new government.  

“I would not look to the U.S. Constitution if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012,” she says in an interview on Al Hayat television.  “I might look at the constitution of South Africa.  That was a deliberate attempt to have a fundamental instrument of government that embraced basic human rights, have an independent judiciary.  It really is, I think a great piece of work that was done there; much more recent than the U.S. Constitution.”

Ginsburg, who was traveling during the court's break to speak with legislators and judges in Egypt as well as Tunisia, spoke to students at Cairo University, encouraging them to enjoy the opportunity to participate in the “exceptional transitional period to a real democratic state.”

Ironically, Bader attended James Madison High School, whose law program later dedicated a courtroom in her honor.   Pres. Bill Clinton nominated her to the Supreme Court on Flag Day (June 14), 1993.  She was careful to note that the U.S. was fortunate to have a constitution authored by “very wise” men even though no women were able to participate in the process and slavery still existed in the U.S.  There’s a bit of a flag on the play there; women were able to vote in the early United States.  Second First Lady Abigail Adams was very much a participatory First Lady in her husband’s career and presidency.

Bader caught the pass from Obama, who first introduced the play early in his career as a state senator.  The press ran interference for her but the judges are still examining the playback video.  A current Supreme Court justice denouncing the very Constitution she’s sworn to uphold seems like a foul.  Let us take a closer look at the preamble for the 1787 U.S. Constitution and the 1997 South African Constitution.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

So how “irrelevant” is the 1787 Constitution?  “We the People of the United States” is certainly in keeping with modern definitions of democracy; it’s all about the people – the very first words in fact, are we the people, not we the government.  “To form a more perfect Union” indicates the Founding Fathers’ intentions to continually improve the process.  “Establish Justice” somewhat belies Ginsburg’s contention that the document does not deal with justice.  She, and the South African Constitution preamble, which we will examine directly, deals with something called “social justice.”  “Insure domestic tranquility” is 18th Century for “peace.”  Yes, with today’s lower educational standards, modern citizen might not recognize “tranquility” as a synonym for “peace.”  “Peace” is a monsyllable word whereas “tranquility” contains four syllables.  Team Obama scores some points there.

“Provide for the common defence.”  First of all, the Founders used the antiquated British spelling of defence.  Gee, were we trying to split with Great Britain or not?  Well, eventually the word came to be spelled with an “s”.  Not matter how you spell it, defense means arms, military, weapons, wars, and march music.  War has been out of vogue since Vietnam.  In any case, the Liberals and the rest of the Communist are of all of one mind, so where is the need for conflict?  It only exists in the minds of those Constitution-quoting Conservatives.

“Promote the general Welfare.”  This phrase is not nearly specific enough.  The Liberals want more than roads and bridges in good working order.  In fact, they’d rather there were fewer roads and thus, fewer cars.  The interstate highway system was originally developed by Republican Pres. Dwight D. Eisenhower to facilitate military transportation.  Figures, coming from an Army General who led World War II.  The Liberals would like to see a more specific, binding phrase that absolutely commits the government took using all its resources to support its citizens, rather than having them depend upon an unreliable, “self-serving”, Capitalistic free marketplace for jobs.

“And secure the Blessings of Liberty.”  Liberals hate and despise freedom.  They’re not terribly fond of the word “Liberty” either.  “Liberty smacks of individualism, which certainly has no place in their notion of the modern world.  One must surrender to the good of all.  That’s probably the most hackneyed of all the phrases in the Preamble and the least relevant to a modern society.  “Most people will submit to anything for a salary.”  [Jane Eyre].  Just ask any employed worker (although they’re becoming fewer in number) and they’ll tell you just how free they feel.

Finally, there’s “our Posterity.”  Clearly, the Founding Fathers were thinking of the future.  Benjamin Franklin, in particular, had very keen insight into that future.  He knew that once the people could be bought off, the 18th Century version of democracy would be history.  How right he was, too.  It showed great sagacity on his part.  The 99 Percent are that Posterior – er, Posterity and they don’t much care for the federated republic version of democracy.

They don’t like the idea of having representatives, nor are they enthralled with the idea that in an election, they might lose.  That’s too risky for their sensibilities.  This generation of self-gratification wants instant and satisfactory results, which can be gotten much more easily and effectively by breaking windows, beating up innocent people and burning the flag, than by ancient Parliamentary procedures and Roberts Rules of Order.

The only people who like the idea of representative government are working people, who don’t have time for anything else.  The wandering mobs of Egypt have nothing better to do with their time than to decide every issue instantly and unscientifically.  You don’t win a game by playing by someone else’s rules.  Children make up their own rules as they go along.  That’s how you win:  by writing in all the advantages for yourselves and all the disadvantages for your opponent.

The Liberals will probably take these arguments seriously and run with them.  They no more understand the definition of “sarcasm” than they do “tranquility” or only claim such things as their own right, not someone else’s.

Now let’s take a look at the South African Constitution’s Preamble:

The government’s website declares:  The Constitution is the supreme law of the land. No other law or government action can supersede the provisions of the Constitution.   South Africa’s Constitution is one of the most progressive in the world and enjoys high acclaim internationally.

Here is the actual preamble:

We, the people of South Africa,
Recognise the injustices of our past;
Honour those who suffered for justice and freedom in our land;
Respect those who have worked to build and develop our country; and
Believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity.
We therefore, through our freely elected representatives, adopt this Constitution as the supreme law of the Republic so as to :
  • Heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights;
  • Lay the foundations for a democratic and open society in which government is based on the will of the people and every citizen is equally protected by law;
  • Improve the quality of life of all citizens and free the potential of each person; and
  • Build a united and democratic South Africa able to take its rightful place as a sovereign state in the family of nations.
May God protect our people.

Now, past the “we, the people” clause, the South African Preamble’s wording resembles, albeit vaguely, the latter portions of the U.S. Declaration of Independence than the preamble to a Constitution.

At last, the South African Constitution declares that “through our freely elected representatives, adopt this Constitution as the supreme law of the Republic, so as to…”  We’ll get to the “so as to” momentarily.  There are some words that must be kept in mind, however:  “freely elected representatives” and “law of the Republic.”  Remember, Constitution fans, a Republic is not a democracy.

Their Constitutions promises to “heal the divisions of the past.”  The details must be somewhere in the main document.  They must have some interesting remedies for that operation.  Time is usually the best healer, and a forgiving memory the best agent.  But that’s South Africa’s problem.

They then declare that they will establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights.  The U.S. Constitution provided for democratic values and fundamental human rights.  Social justice, on the other hand, is indeed, a modern conception.  Just what it means is the problem to study.

Evidently, in South Africa, although apartheid was abolished, people are to be classed into separate groups and treated accordingly, based on past history, the divisions of which this Constitution claims to heal.  Social justice is to be that remedy.  Classes of people who are the successors of those who were once repressed will apparently be given the right to demand financial redress from the successors of those who once did the repressing.  This will ensure generational reparations, guaranteeing that the divisions will always be remembered, even while no longer existing, but never healed so that the delivery of social justice can continue in perpetuity.

“Lay the foundations for a democratic and open society in which government is based on the will of the people and every citizen is equally protected by law.”  Equal protection of the law had to be amended into the U.S. Constitution, it’s true; but the U.S. Constitution was designed to be amended, not always to beneficial effect or even the will of the people (i.e., Amendment 17).

Calling for a democratic and open society means that anyone can enter the country at will.  Whole hordes of strangers can cross the border.  That apparently doesn’t bother the South Africans.  How will the Egyptians feel about writing such an amendment into their Constitution; they’re about to write a prohibition of all non-Muslims into their document.  That hardly bespeaks an “open society,” tolerant, liberal, and just.

“Improving the quality of life of all citizens and freeing the potential of each person” should never have to be a point in a Constitution.  Nor should it be the job of the government.  Frequently, it is the government that disturbs its citizens’ quality of life and inhibits their potential.  The U.S. Declaration of Independence put it much better, guaranteeing everyone “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  The Liberals would call for the ref’s decision on this one; is the Declaration a true, legal document?

Finally, there’s “Build a united and democratic South Africa able to take its rightful place as a sovereign state in the family of nations.” A noble addendum to the preamble that neither adds nor detracts from the intention of its Constitution and gives the Constitution a certain claim to international eclat.

Let’s hear it for the U.S. Constitution, freedom fans; a positive, forward-looking document that, by protecting individual rights, protects everyone.  Stand up and cheer for James Madison’s work.  Get the ball away from Obama and his team before they cross the goal line with it and shred it to pieces.

USA!  USA!  USA!

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