For too long, American voters have elected politicians to legislative, executive, and in some States, judicial office without even expecting, much less asking, them to be faithful to the US Constitution or their respective State constitutions. All that has seemed to matter, either to the candidates themselves or to some who have voted for them, have been results–and to be more specific, the enactment of certain policies, whether those policies are in accord with the Constitution or not. This is inappropriate. The Framers wrote the Constitution, and put certain things in it (and left certain other things out of it) for a reason, and that reason is: a free people can never trust their government implicitly, but must always set limits on what that government can do.
Thomas Jefferson said it best:
A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
And an elected official whose every act is one that may define a tyrant, is likewise unfit to lead, or even to serve.
For that reason, and in the spirit of restoring fidelity to principles of Constitutional governance, every voter must insist on fidelity to Constitutional principles. Although reasonable people might disagree on the wisdom or present applicability of any given Constitutional provision, no elected official has the right to ignore a provision of the Constitution, or to add something to the Constitution by any means other than the formal amendment process that Article V describes. The reason why our society has come to such a disgraceful pass that in theory the greatest collectible revenues might fall short of even the interest on the national debt, is that certain officials have ignored those very Constitutional principles that would have stopped such a thing from even coming close to happening.
Herewith a list of questions that voters must ask of any candidate for elected office, by way of demanding fidelity to Constitutional principles, which is the only context by which our society will solve the present problem before it becomes intractable:
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- Why are you running for office?
- What specific things is the federal/State/local government, as applicable to your candidacy, empowered to provide?
- Does “the right of the people to keep and bear arms” mean an individual right? If not, why not? And if so, does this permit any restrictions of any kind on the lawful ownership of any sort of weapon?
- Do you accept or reject the proposition that an armed citizen militia, i.e. all citizens, who are not law-enforcement officers or members of any armed service, who happen to own weapons, is the last line of civil defense, with which the government ought not interfere?
- As a corollary to the above, will you introduce, sponsor, or otherwise support measures to allow any common transport carrier or station to allow its officers to become part of that citizen’s militia by carrying arms on the job?
- If a law cannot be enforced short of compromising the protections of the writ of habeas corpus, the right to security of the person against unreasonable search and seizure, and the like, will you recommend its repeal?
- For what purpose shall any government exercise “eminent domain”?
- Shall any government have the power to dispossess a lawful resident of his property, for the purpose of turning said property over to another person for any purpose?
- Shall any government have the power to restrict anyone’s use of his property, without compensating the owner for the diminution in value that said restriction might incur?
- Where does the Constitution authorize any of the below, and if no such provision be found, will you introduce, sponsor, or otherwise support measures to repeal any unauthorized laws, privatize or phase out any unauthorized functions, etc.?
- Compulsion to purchase any particular good or service, including without limitation the service commonly known as “health insurance.”
- Denial or restriction of the right of any individual to purchase, consume or transport any particular comestible or pharmaceutical, including without limitation raw milk, herbal preparations, or recreational drugs.
- The transfer of wealth from one person to another, from one generation to another, or the like.
- Funding or running any scientific or other expeditions, crewed or un-crewed, into outer space.
- Exclusive federal authority over common carriers and stations of transport, including without limitation airports, railroad stations, bus terminals, airliners, trains, buses, and the like, for purposes of guaranteeing security against crime, commandeering, and the like.
- Will you introduce, sponsor, or otherwise support the proposal of any of these suggested Amendments to the Constitution?
- To repeal the XVIth Amendment (the one authorizing a tax on incomes that is not apportioned among the several States).
- To guarantee to any State the right to recall its Congressional delegation, or any member thereof, and to send a substitute member to serve out any unexpired term, as formerly and explicitly provided in the Articles of Confederation.
- To limit the aggregate terms of service of Members of Congress, or of your state legislature, city council, etc.
- To provide that Federal, State or local judges shall be required to defend their positions in retention and/or recall elections, as appropriate to level of government and circumstance.
- To declare that any willful distortion of the Constitution shall constitute “bad behavior” on the part of a judge or Justice and thus constitute grounds for removal from the bench on impeachment therefor and conviction thereof.
- Shall the Congress define acts of war committed by individuals or non-government organizations, and formally declare war against any individuals or groups demonstrated to be so acting?
These questions go to the heart of things that elected officials have too long left undone when they ought to have done them, and done when they ought not to. They also address certain weaknesses in the Constitution that have, frankly, created moral hazards for the elected (and appointed) leaders of our federal government and its member States.
Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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