Complexity is Knowing that Government Control Must be Better, No Matter What that Pesky Constitution May Say

One of the more maundering sections in the Projo’s recent Tea Party editorial began by looking at the view expressed at many Tea Party events that modern government needs to continue to be consistent with the principles of the founding of America…

They also make frequent reference to getting back to what the nation’s Founders wanted, though it is not at all clear how the Founders would have governed a country that has grown from about 3 million people living in a mostly agrarian nation in 1790 to about 310 million in the highly urban/suburban, technological and multicultural one now. We do know that the Founders supported the right to amend the Constitution as things changed.
But complexity is anxiety-provoking, while simple slogans are comforting.
The connection that the editorial seeks to establish, between simplicity and Constitutionality, is not at all clear. Given that defining and enforcing limits on the power of government has never been a simple problem for any society, it would have been helpful if the editorial board had discussed the specific Constitutional sections they believe to be too simplistic for a “highly urban/suburban, technological and multicultural” nation.
Indeed, much modern history has been shaped by human struggles with and against the consequences of contrasting formulations of government. The renowned philosopher and sociologist Raymond Aron described the key contrast in the past two-and-half-centuries as being defined by the difference in the ideas of…
…representative governments restrained by the balance of power, and so called democratic governments invoking the will of the people but rejecting all limits to their authority.
Then again, given the Projo editorial board’s steady stream of editorials over the past year declaring the need for more government power over healthcare regardless of the details — and perhaps the Constitutionality — of the the plans that were being proposed, they may feel that the issue has been settled, with the latter view of government described by Aron having won out.
However, those who would feel comfortable with a system where the most important factor limiting a government’s power is that government’s ability to decide for itself when its actions serve true public interests really shouldn’t be congratulating themselves on their ability to deal with complexity.

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13 years ago

“complexity is anxiety-provoking, while simple slogans are comforting”
Yes we can!
It’s almost too easy. And this editorial is another reason why I no longer send any $ to those tools at the ProJo.
I remain bitterly clinging to the Constitution – and it’s amendment process.

13 years ago

Which section of the Constitution grants free speech and other rights to corporations? Which section allows corporations to skew elections with campaign spending? I’d take you Tea Party folks more seriously if you’d speak out against corporations instead of acting as if public employee unions rule the world (with apologies to the actual libertarians out there who are now lumped in with these Teapublican faux populists).

13 years ago

Good question, Russ.
I’d like to add another; the Constitution states that only Congress may declare war. What do you strict constructionist, Tea Potty people have to say about this radical reinterpretation of the war powers clause?

13 years ago

Yes, and never mind that the Founders did not intend to set the country in amber with the exception of the protection of certain inalienable rights. These folks have their seminal document, but don’t let them fool you into thinking it was written by the Founders.

The ground of liberty is to be gained by inches, and we must be contented to secure what we can get from time to time and eternally press forward for what is yet to get. It takes time to persuade men to do even what is for their own good.
–Thomas Jefferson to Charles Clay, 1790.

“We must.. eternally press forward for what is yet to get.” Notably written several years after the Constitution was ratified and a statement of progressive values if I’ve heard one.

13 years ago

“I remain bitterly clinging to the Constitution”
tsk That’s almost as bad as clinging to guns or religion …

13 years ago

Andrew, you said:

Regarding the authority to use force, Article II of the Constitution makes the President commander-and-chief of the armed forces, and the uses of force in Afghanistan and Iraq have been authorized by Congress, so the idea that there have been any Constitutional violations here, as opposed to policies that are not universally popular, is very thin.

Nice riposte Andrew, but beside the point. How can we use the word “war” without declaring one? You are either twisting the word or the Constitution, very Orwellian!

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
13 years ago

OTL-we haven’t declared war since 1941.
Democrats and Republicans have gone to war without that being done,how many times now?
The Korean War is an example-it was described as a “police action”under the auspices of the UN!!
It sure looked like a war.A Democrat took us there.
Vietnam?Lyndon Johnson lied us into going from advisors to full blown combatants there.You seem to like to pick and choose your villains.
I think we were lied into Iraq.
Afghanistan may be the most legitimate conflict we’ve been in since WW2.
the Gulf War of 1990-91 was something that never should have happened.A halfwit ambassador caused it if you want to know the truth.

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