A lot of food for thought came out of the Saddleback Church forum last Saturday night. Abortion, the Constitution, the Supreme Court, marriage, world hunger, and many other subjects of importance in choosing a President came up, either directly or indirectly. One of the most important aspects of the forum was the opportunity to compare the maturity, judgment, and life experiences of the two candidates.
Obama’s hesitancy as he groped for politically correct answers to the questions was certainly revealing when compared with the crisp, concise answers by McCain. In spite of Obama’s less than sterling performance, there will probably be little change in his poll numbers. The core Obama supporter is not interested in ethical or moral questions. Their only concern is his ideology and pliability.
Obama supporters come from two groups, socialists and “habitual” democrats. Their numbers are more or less constant at between thirty and forty percent of the voting population. Add to that another ten to fifteen percent who pay little attention to politics; those who get their information in “snippets” picked up from three minute news broadcast on music radio, entertainment TV, and while looking for the sports pages in the newspaper, and it’s still possible for Obama to succeed in November.
One question that caught my attention was when Pastor Rick Warren asked, “What would be the greatest moral failure of your life, and what would be the greatest moral failure for America?” Obama referred back to his youthful indulgence in alcohol and drugs. McCain mentioned the failure of his first marriage.
As to America’s greatest moral failure, both candidates gave a similar response having to do with a failure to address social issues in the world. To me the greatest moral failure of American has been the government’s failure to keep faith with the American People. Most if not all national problems can be traced back to this one basic failure.
Our form of government was “sold” to the American people based on certain promises made by the political leaders of the day.
- The powers of the central government would be limited to those specified in the Constitution.(Article One, Section Eight and Federalist 41)
- The Sovereignty of the individual states would not be supplanted by the central government. (Amendment 10)
- Taxes would be limited to those necessary for running the government and fulfilling the responsibilities delegated to it. (Article One, Section Eight, Clause One)
- The “natural rights” of the citizens would be protected. (Amendment Nine and Declaration of Independence)
- The judicial system would be the “weakest” of the three branches of government and judges who were unfaithful to the Constitution would be subject to impeachment. (Federalist 78, 79)
- Our money would have a value not dependent on the fiscal health of the government. (Article One, Section Ten, )
These and many other promises were made to the people of the thirteen original states in order to persuade them to accept and ratify the Constitution. The three most famous “salesmen” for the Constitution were Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay, authors of the Federalist Papers. For the first hundred years or so most political leaders took their oath of office seriously and attempted to uphold the Constitution.
Since then it has been fashionable for political leaders who wish to exercise powers not sanctioned by the Constitution to use the “three-step” method of interpretation used by many religious people to interpret the Bible.
- Step One: Look for permission to do what you want in the meaning of the text itself.
- Step Two: If unsuccessful, read “between the lines” looking for a principle that will support your position.
- Step Three: If still unsuccessful, look for a hidden meaning, i.e. what the writer really meant by what he said.
Using these interpretative techniques, the “meaning” of our founding documents has evolved to the point they bear little resemblance to the originals. The natural “right to life” has been changed to a “right to prevent life”. The right to “keep (own) and bear (carry) arms” has been limited to those who acquire special permission from the government. “Freedom of religion” has been changed to “freedom from religion”. The power of Congress to regulate the buying and selling of goods (commerce) between the states has been expanded to permit Congress to regulate all parts of the economy.
These broken promises by the government and the American people’s toleration of elected officials who make a mockery of their oath of office are the primary reasons we find ourselves faced with most of the problems we are wrestling with now. Our failing education system, the exorbitant cost of primary health care, the energy crisis, and the declining economy can all be traced to the government’s failure to keep faith with the people.
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