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Suspend elections? Seriously?

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The Constitution, which sets forth the principle of rule of law, defines what is unconstitutional, and guarantees freedom of speech and other liberties of a Constitutional republic, and also describes the impeachment power. (How many know of the Jewish roots of this document?) Hypocrisy threatens Constitutional government. Could Israel use a constitution like this? More to the point: would a Convention of States save it, or destroy it? (Example: civil asset forfeiture violates the Constitution.) Quick fixes like Regulation Freedom Amendments weaken it. Furthermore: the Constitution provides for removing, and punishing, a judge who commits treason in his rulings. Furthermore, opponents who engage in lawfare against an elected President risk breaking the Constitution.

A Democratic State governor actually suggested that Congress suspend elections for a full term. And no, she was not joking.

Suspend elections? The evidence

Governor Beverly Perdue (D-NC) started the furor yesterday, when she said:

I think we ought to suspend elections for Congress for two years and just tell them we won’t hold it against them, whatever decisions they make, to just let them help this country recover.

True enough, she used the word perhaps to break up that phrase. But she still uttered it. A reporter from the Raleigh News and Observer heard her.

Hours later, her aide said that she was joking. But The Daily Caller picked the story up later that day. Then this morning, the DC published this piece, with an actual soundtrack of Gov. Perdue’s remarks. Her deadpan delivery clearly shows that she was not joking. (See also this piece at Fox News Channel.)

James Taranto at The Wall Street Journal suggested that Gov. Perdue is not the only one. Nor does the left limit its disdain for democracy to the US Congress alone.

Where did this come from?

The US Constitution does not authorize anyone to suspend elections. Not for any reason.

The US Constitution. Photo: National Archives of the United States

Republicans brought this on themselves, by agreeing to “super-committees” and “blue-ribbon panels.” They have done this for decades. When elected officials avoid the issue, they lend credence to people who want unelected officials to make the decisions. Whether that unelected official is a judge, a “super-committeeman,” or a blue-ribbon commissioner, is irrelevant. What’s relevant is that we have a republic, and its institutions must be accountable to the people. When we rely on special unaccountable decision makers, we show contempt for the electoral process. That the enemies of freedom would seize upon that showing of contempt, should surprise no one.

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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.

CATEGORY:Constitution
15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Camille

    September 28, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    I think longer terms would accomplish the same thing without the bitter flavor of dictatorship.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut

      September 28, 2011 at 9:07 pm

      Now that’s exactly why some of us want terms-of-office limited.

      • Camille

        September 29, 2011 at 1:58 am

        Yes, I definitely understand the desire to limit terms of office. Career politicians seem to be only concerned with winning the next election.
        I think that perhaps longer terms and implementing term limits would help to remedy the problem of politicians being, well, political.
        While you may not appreciate this example as I do (you being a conservative, I imagine you don’t find Democrat successes particularly pleasing), I recall the lame-duck session of 2010 where the Democrats passed several bills only after the elections (where they were crushed). Without the concern for reelection office holders can focus on doing their job instead of keeping their job. That said, I don’t quite know how accountability would be preserved in these longer terms, election results also being a factor in getting politicians to behave.
        By the way, I’m glad you approved this last post of mine. I really think we can hold some interesting discussions here.

        • Terry A. Hurlbut

          September 29, 2011 at 6:41 am

          Just for the record: the only thing that Democrats succeed in doing, long-term, is taking the people’s liberties away from them. And here I refer to the liberties that matter most—those that will put food on their tables and let them choose what sort of food to put on those tables.

  2. Geno

    September 28, 2011 at 10:47 pm

    Terry wrote:
    “Whether that unelected official is a judge, a “super-committeeman,” or a blue-ribbon commissioner, is irrelevant.”

    Geno points out:
    Actually, the “super committee” is made up of elected officials. It is, in fact, a congressional committee formed for a specific purpose.

    Oh yeah…. I agree on the idea of term limits. The idea of the Founding Fathers was that the congress would be made up of citizens who would serve for a few years then return to their private lives…. not professional politicians. (Though it didn’t take long for professional politicians to show up.)

    • Terry A. Hurlbut

      September 29, 2011 at 6:36 am

      But those super-committeemen are not actually performing like Congressmen. They were never elected to “at-large” positions, which is what the super-committee is. They were elected to represent their respective States and districts. This “super-committee” assignment takes them beyond the reach of their electoral mandate.

      • Geno

        September 29, 2011 at 11:08 am

        Terry says:
        This “super-committee” assignment takes them beyond the reach of their electoral mandate.

        Geno answers:
        You are probably right in that members of congress are elected to represent specific districts/states. However, as a practical matter, there is no way each congress member could make an informed vote on every proposal that is introduced in congress. Therefore, congressional committes perform a useful purpose. Atricle I Section 5 of the Constitution states: “Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings.” This provides the authority for congress to establish committees.

        • Terry A. Hurlbut

          October 1, 2011 at 3:54 pm

          If enough Congressmen had “read the bill,” they might never have passed a bill that is unconstitutional on fifteen counts.

          • Geno

            October 1, 2011 at 10:03 pm

            Terry claims:
            If enough Congressmen had “read the bill,” they might never have passed a bill that is unconstitutional on fifteen counts.

            Geno answers:
            While I agree that Pelozi’s “vote now, read later” edict is more than a little authoritarian and makes for horrible government, there is no constitutional requirement a member of congress read a bill before voting on it.

            (Note: I’d be inclined to vote out any representative of mine I found was voting on bills without knowing the full contents of them.)

      • Jorj McKie

        September 30, 2011 at 12:07 pm

        Both chambers routinely work in committees that examine issues and determine whether and how certain things reach the floor. Is the House Armed Services Committee unconstitutional because its members review and comment on issues outside their districts?
        I’ve heard criticism of the supercommittee on other grounds, but I’m not sure I understand your ‘at-large’ logic.

  3. furby

    September 28, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    I think you are missing the point. Congress and the House of Representatives seem paralyzed to make a decision that might affect their ability to be re-elected. They do nothing instead and then talk about government shutdown. If there was a longer period between elections they wouldn’t have to worry about re-election campaigns and might actually get something done.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut

      September 29, 2011 at 6:38 am

      That’s no excuse. The remedy is for the people to realize that the government is no longer sustainable, and that we must abolish large chunks of it to get out of the debt hole. Beverly Perdue’s solution is to freeze a permanent class in place. And do you think for one second that she would talk of suspending elections if Republicans controlled the Senate as well as the House?

      • Jorj McKie

        September 30, 2011 at 12:28 pm

        “Beverly Perdue’s solution is to freeze a permanent class in place.”

        Well, no, it isn’t. Even if you insist on taking her literally, and refuse to acknowledge that she might have been employing hyperbole to express frustration with partisan bickering (as the context suggests), her comment was that the elections should be suspended for two years for the specific purpose of hammering out a solution to the debt crisis.

        With the exception of the American newt (with a three-year lifespan), two years is not ‘permanent’ to most vertebrates of North America.

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  5. Kevin J Lankford

    September 29, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    Term limits were once a good idea; the result now would
    only manifest in more opulent payoffs from lobbyist.

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