Tag Archives: amendments

Anchor Babies – Arizona’s Next Target

To turn a progressive into a “strict constructionist”,  just ask them to interpret the Fourteenth Amendment.

According to a Friday Time Magazine article, the next target in Arizona’s battle to keep from being overrun with invaders from south of the border, will be “anchor babies”.  According to the article, State Senator Russell Pearce, architect of SB1070, —which appears to be America’s favorite piece of legislation— says a bill dealing with birthright citizenship will likely be introduced this fall.  Like SB1070, any new bill is expected to face court challenges as soon as it is signed into law.

Author of the article, Adam Klawonn writes, the bill “would deny birth certificates to children born in Arizona — and thus American citizens according to the U.S. Constitution — to parents who are not legal U.S. citizens.” How is that for objective reporting? Whether children of illegal immigrants born in America are legal citizens or not is something the courts have not yet decided. There are hundreds of legal experts that would take exception to Mr. Klawonn’s assertion.

Most of us have been taught that the Fourteenth Amendment grants citizenship to anyone born in the U.S., regardless of how they came to be here in the first place.  It is practically the only part of the Constitution where progressives insist on a literal interpretation. They consider the language of Article I, Section 8, and the First, Second and Tenth Amendments as flexible. However, on this Amendment they all seem to become “strict constructionists”.  The problem is that even a strict constructionist’s interpretation does not support their contention.

The Fourteenth Amendment reads in part, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and the State wherein they reside.” It was first proposed to the states by Congress in 1866. The part that creates a problem for proponents of birthright citizenship is the clause, “and subject to the jurisdiction thereof”.  The meaning of, “subject to the jurisdiction thereof”, is explained by a Senator who was a part of the debate leading up to the proposal.

“Every person born within the limits of the United States, and subject to their jurisdiction, is by virtue of natural law and national law a citizen of the United States. This will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the Government of the United States, but will include every other class of persons. It settles the great question of citizenship and removes all doubt as to what persons are or are not citizens of the United States. This has long been a great desideratum in the jurisprudence and legislation of this country.”  Senator Jacob Howard (R-Mi) 1866

Howard was one of the Senators responsible for the inclusion of “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” and certainly should know the intention of the wording. Bear in mind, this statement was made on the floor of the Senate two years before the Amendment was ratified in 1868, and would have been part of the information available to the states, explaining its meaning, at the time ratification was under consideration.

Another member of the same Senate confirmed Howard’s meaning.

“[A foreigner in the United States] has a right to the protection of the laws; but he is not a citizen in the ordinary acceptance of the word…”  Senator Edgar Cowan, (R-Pa)

In the 1884 Supreme Court Case “Elk v. Wilkins”, “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” was interpreted to exclude, “children of ministers, consuls and citizens of foreign states born within the United States”.

The progressive’s interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment is completely illogical.  If the Amendment grants citizenship to children born of illegal immigrants, then it would also have to grant citizenship to children born to tourists, persons in the country on business, and all other foreign nationals no matter the reason they happen to be here.  Children of foreign nationals born in America are normally granted citizenship in their parent’s homeland. Would they then have dual citizenship?

It is important to the long-term progressive agenda to establish a permanent underclass in the United States that will form a power base for keeping them in office. Since a large percentage of this underclass would be dependent on the federal government for a major part of their livelihood, it is assumed they would be easily manipulated into voting for progressives in their own self-interest.  That explains why progressives usually will only make an issue of “birthright citizenship” when it involves illegal  immigrants from the third world countries of South and Central America or one of the Caribbean islands. “Anchor babies”, along with welfare, health care, state run education and other segments of the welfare state are all used as a means to the same end, to gain and hold onto power.

How the courts decide on this issue if far from certain, but there can be little doubt of the original intent of the Congress who proposed the Amendment and the State Legislatures that ratified it.

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What Happened to My Country? Part Two

The Progressive Era

In the past 218 years since ratification of the Bill of Rights, only seventeen amendments have been added to our Constitution.  Except for the Civil War Amendments involving the rights of former slaves and a few other issues growing out of the war, most are minor adjustments to the various articles of the Constitution.  However, two of the four Amendments ratified during the Progressive Era (1896-1932) have proven by experience to be disastrous to the structure of Government established by the Framers, and leads directly to the current attempted statists takeover of the Government by President Barack Obama and his socialist supporters.  Both were proposed during the term of Republican President William Howard Taft and ratified in1913 during the administration of Democratic President Woodrow Wilson.

Sixteenth Amendment—Income Tax

“The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.” Amendment 16, Ratified February 3, 1913

The Progressive Era was one of the high points in the advancement of the socialist movement in America; this in spite of the fact that the socialists parties never garnered more than nine percent of the vote in presidential elections.  Since Marx’s Communist Manifesto, a goal of socialism had always been the establishment of a graduated, progressive income tax for the redistribution of wealth.  The Sixteenth Amendment provided the opportunity to realize that goal.

Although the Socialist Parties themselves were never able to muster a significant amount of support at the polls, their ideas permeated much of society at the turn of the twentieth century.  It was during the Progressive Era that we got the Clayton Antitrust Act, the Federal Trade Commission, the Hepburn Act strengthening the ICC, four constitutional amendments and the Federal Reserve Bank.  In the Presidential Elections of 1912, all four presidential candidates—Democrat Woodrow Wilson, Republican William Howard Taft, Progressive Theodore Roosevelt, and Socialist Eugene Debs—supported the income tax.

When the income tax first came into force, the rate was 7% on the wealthiest earners.  Four years later the top marginal rate was 77%, an eleven-fold increase.  The tax code today is over 40,000 pages and is used as much for social engineering and wealth redistribution as it is for the constitutional purpose of funding the essential functions of government.

The Sixteenth Amendment repeals Article One, section nine, clause four of the Constitution.  It does not repeal clause one in section eight which limits taxes to paying the public debt and funding the enumerated functions of government.  Nowhere does the Constitution authorize a progressive income tax.  In fact, it could be argued that a progressive tax violates the principle of uniformity called for in Article One, section eight, clause one.

Seventeenth Amendment—Election of Senators

Socialists, liberals, and progressives habitually use language in a cynical and misleading way to promote their agenda. One of their favorites is “the people”. However, when they speak of the people they are usually talking about the people in mass, not as individuals.  The masses are easily controlled and generally follow the leadership of demigods in herd-like fashion.  On the other hand, when conservatives speak of “the people” they are referring to a consensus of individuals each acting in their own self-interest.

Because the masses are so easily influenced by populist rhetoric, progressives cloak their agenda in appeals to democracy and democratic ideals, overlooking the fact that the Constitution was constructed as it is specifically to guard against the fickle whims of the uninformed or misinformed masses.  This accounts for the continued attempts to eliminate the Electoral College.  It also provided the impetus for the popularity of the Seventeenth Amendment providing for the popular election of Senators.

“The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each state, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote…”  Amendment Seventeen, Ratified April 8, 1913

There is no denying the popular appeal of the idea of electing members of the Senate by the popular vote of the people rather than by the State Legislatures.  However, this change in the structure of government, more than any other, is responsible for the transformation from a federal to a national government abolishing the sovereignty of the states.

After ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment the accountability of Senators shifted from State Legislatures to the people and ultimately to the political parties.  One of the last important changes of the Progressive Era was the formalization of authority, in 1925, in the office of the Senate Majority Leader replacing the constitutional authority of the President of the Senate held by the Vice President for the first 135 years of our existence as a Constitutional Republic.  This change cemented the loyalty of Senators to their party leadership rather than the interest of their states or the country.

Whether intentionally or unintentionally, one of the consequences of the Seventeenth Amendment was the shift of power from the state legislatures to the Congress in Washington, in effect, nullifying the Tenth Amendment.  For more than a century, the Senate had been the guardian of the Tenth Amendment.  As representatives of the state legislatures, Senators were sensitive to efforts by Congress to usurp the authority of the states and succeeded, for the most part, in preventing the federal government from establishing a tyranny over the lives of the people.

The doctrine that facilitated the eventual decline in state power and the increase in federal power was “supremacy of federal law”.  Constitutionally that supremacy is limited.  The doctrine is found in Article VI of the Constitution which reads:

“This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof…shall be the supreme law of the land.”  Article VI, Clause 2.

Just as the proponents of big government overlook the phrase “foregoing powers” in the so-called “elastic clause” of Article One, here they overlook the phrase “in pursuance thereof”.  Federal law is supreme only when the law is in pursuance to the requirements and limitations of the Constitution.  A countering doctrine to the supremacy of federal law is one that appears often in the writings of the founders and in opinions handed down by early Supreme Courts.

That doctrine holds that unconstitutional acts of Congress are null and void and should not be binding on the states or citizens of the states. In Marbury vs. Madison, for example, Justice John Marshall wrote in the Majority Opinion, “Laws repugnant to the Constitution are null and void.”  While the federal government has the police power to enforce adherence to unconstitutional laws, that does not make them constitutional or legal.

The abuse of these two amendments has done more to promote the federal tyranny we are experiencing today under the Obama administration than any other, with the possible exception of the exploitation of the “equal protection” clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It

liberty-bellOne of the easiest ways for a Senator or Congressman to gain attention is to propose an amendment to the Constitution; If it pertains to a subject of interest to the public, all the better.  Call a press conference, have your staff compose a press release and, for at least one news cycle, your name is before the public.  Rarely does anything come of these publicity stunts and they are soon forgotten.  There are up to 200 constitutional amendments proposed in a typical session of Congress.  The average person seldom hears of these proposals unless they are on the Lawmaker’s mailing list or visiting his or her website.

Such antics on the part of our lawmakers have not been a serious problem constitutionally.  Of the more than one thousand amendments introduced in Congress over the past two centuries only 33 have garnered enough supports in both houses of Congress to be presented to the states for ratification.  Of those only 27 have been ratified including the ten making up the Bill of Rights.

Members of Congress can score political points with their constituents by proposing amendments, especially if the amendment involves a fashionable issue.  The same opportunity for proposing constitutional amendments, however, is not extended to the state lawmakers by the Constitution.  They typically solve this problem by calling for an amendatory convention.

Amendments to the Constitution must originate in Congress, or from a convention called by Congress for the purpose of proposing amendments, when requested to do so by the Legislatures of two thirds of the states.

“The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments…”
~Article V, U.S. Constitution

Article V was one of the last Articles to be debated by the Philadelphia Convention.  After more than four months of exhaustive debate in a closed room with little reprieve from the heat and humidity of a Philadelphia summer, little time was given to its consideration.  In fact, more time was devoted to the phrase “we the people” during the Virginia Ratifying Convention than was devoted to the Article for Amending the Constitution during the Constitutional Convention.

The absence of specific requirements in the states’ applications has led to some degree of controversy in recent years.  One group called, “Friends of The Article V Convention” (FOAVC) has filed two lawsuits against the government claiming that the People have been denied their constitutional right to an Article V Convention by Congress; one making its way to the Supreme Court.  Their claim is based on the fact that Article V does not specify a time frame for the states’ applications.

They claim that since the Constitution was ratified in 1788 more than 750 Article V applications have been made by all 50 states and Congress continues to ignore their constitutional duty to call for a convention to consider amendments.  FOAVC rejects court rulings that in order for applications to trigger the Article V requirement for a convention they must be contemporary, and that the question is a political one over which the courts do not have jurisdiction.

The group fails to make a case for the need for a convention and does not indicate a reason for their insistence on one except for the fact that Article V provides for it.  While they do not clearly disclose their agenda, an article by one of FOAVC’s founders, Joel S. Hirschhorn dated May 8, 2008 contains the following;

“Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama say they believe in giving Americans universal health care.  I don’t believe them.  Anyone who takes the time to understand universal health care should conclude that only a simple single payer system will reform the current outrageous system that benefits the insurance and pharmaceutical industries.

The contorted plans from Clinton and Obama are not sufficient reforms.  And what John McCain has proposed is sheer nonsense and by itself should cause any conscious American to avoid voting for him….”

“…We must expand the Bill of Rights as embodied in the US Constitution to include the right to affordable universal health care.  The time has come for the public to conclude that the right to universal health care is as important and necessary as the right to free speech and all the other beloved constitutional rights.  Common sense says that health care is a right, not a privilege…”

This language certainly does not indicate someone who is devoted to the defense of the Constitution.

At any rate, whether or not the Constitution provides for an amendatory convention—as it certainly does—the real question should be; Is such a convention needed? And is it advisable? An Article V convention has never been convened in our history and there are several good reasons why one should not be.

The danger of altering the plan of government

While delegates to an Amendatory Convention would not be authorized to rewrite the entire Constitution, there would be no limits to the number and scope of the amendments proposed.

Thus far Article I, Sections two, three, four and nine, Article II, Section one, Article III, Section two, and Article IV, section two have all been changed by Amendment.  Most of these amendments have produced unintended consequences; Abortion, a progressive income tax, and the loss of state sovereignty for example.

The futility of Constitutional Amendments

Our government has not been a true Constitutional Republic since the reign of Franklin D. Roosevelt.  Presidents, Legislators and Courts seem to acknowledge the Constitution only when it furthers their agenda, otherwise it is ignored.  There is no indication that additional amendments would be honored by government officials to any greater degree than they honor the Constitution now.  Before we open up the Amendment process by calling for an Amendatory Convention we need to regain control of the government as a whole and bring it back under the jurisdiction of the Constitution as it is.

Lack of need for a convention

Whenever a public outcry for a new Amendment to the Constitution arises it is usually due to persistent breaches of the Oath of Office by elected officials or a departure from the fundamental principles set forth in the Declaration of Independence.  Of the seventeen Amendments ratified since the Bill of Rights only the twelfth and twenty first were necessary; the latter to correct the ill-advised eighteenth. Most of the problems intended to be corrected by the remaining fifteen could have been corrected legislatively without violating the Constitution as it was.

The sixteenth and seventeenth Amendments have proven to be damaging to our form of government, the eighteenth violated a fundamental natural right and most of the others came with unintended consequences that have proven detrimental to the general welfare.  In addition they have provided fertile ground for activist judges to substitute their social preferences for Constitutional law.

While the Constitution is not perfect, two hundred years of history indicates that it is as near to perfection as a basis of government as mankind is capable of devising.  All of us should become a little nervous when our political leaders seriously talk of changing it.  “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Renewing The Conservative Movement

liberty-bellDuring the 2008 Presidential campaigns, John McCain traveled the country declaring himself to be a “proud conservative”.  In fact, all the candidates presented themselves to the voters as conservatives.  Yet they all differed from each other in certain major issues, operating from different underlying principles. None consistently and convincingly advocated adherence to the founding principles of our nation, namely those found in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

Conventional wisdom counsels conservatives and Republicans to modify their positions to appeal more to various sub-groups and special interest.  This advice comes not only from the media and non-conservative and non-Republican sources, but often from self-labeled conservatives and Republicans as well.  The result is that many conservatives have become discouraged and confused concerning the conservative message.

The outpouring of support for Sarah Palin when she entered the race as McCain’s running mate gives credence to the argument that many Americans are hungering for true conservative leadership.  Single issue conservatives such as social-conservatives, fiscal-conservatives, and so-on, no longer provide the leadership sought by the true conservative patriot. Neither are leaders who mouth “bumper sticker slogans” and conservative sounding platitudes, while at the same time supporting big government programs like education, healthcare, open borders, and government interference with the free-market economy.

The conservative movement has gotten off track, and there is a growing group of patriots who are looking for ways to get it moving again in the right direction.  The problem is that the average person does not know where to start or what to do.  They are looking for someone to take the lead and tell them what to do before they do anything.  A political movement is more than a few people following a charismatic leader.  A political movement is millions of people cooperating in a common cause arising from shared principles and mutual goals.

In recent history the conservative movement has been likened to a three-legged stool, with one leg representing small government, the second representing national defense and the third low taxes.  That’s good, so far as it goes.  However, it provides little real guidance for the average person and does not give them a base for formulating their political opinions.  It fails to inform as to what the principles are that underlie the desirability of small government or low taxes, for example.

To me there are two basic principles underlying true conservatism, the unalienable “natural” rights of man given by God to all, and that the sole purpose of government is to protect those rights.  These two principles led our forefathers to fight the Revolutionary War and establish the Constitutional Republic known as the United States of America.  They are clearly defined in the Declaration of Independence and are the underlying principles of every article of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Thomas Jefferson included these rights under the headings of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.


This right includes not only the right to be born, but the right to live, by the grace of God, until we die from natural causes.  It is the basic right underlying the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms for self-defense. It is to protect this right that Congress was given the constitutional power to make war and provide for the national defense.


The right to liberty is the second unalienable right common to all mankind.  This is the right to use the facilities of our mind, body and spirit freely without interference, to decide for one‘s self what is in our own best interest, to believe whatever we wish to believe, and to express our thoughts freely.  This right is embodied in the First Amendment as the right to express our religious views freely without the interference or direction of government—freedom of religion; the right to express our thoughts without sanction or fear—freedom of the press; the right to join with others to secure our rights—freedom of assembly and association.

Amendments Five, Six, Seven and Eight are all designed to protect our right to liberty, guaranteeing us that our liberty cannot be taken from us without a fair and thorough review by the judicial system.

Pursuit of Happiness

Happiness is an individual thing.  No person or government can give us happiness.  It is a condition of being that each of us must pursue and find for ourselves.  That’s why it is described in Jefferson’s list as a “pursuit” not as an end in itself.  Most scholars refer to “pursuit of happiness” as property rights.  Thomas Jefferson referred to it as “enjoyment of the fruits of our labor” which would include wealth, property, wages, other income, or the general pursuit of prosperity.

Each of us has the unalienable right to pursue our prosperity or “happiness” in our own way making our own decisions as to the routes to follow. Amendments Three, Four, Five, Thirteen, Fourteen 1:3, Article One 7:1, 8:1, 5, 9, and 9:4 are all intended to protect the right to “enjoy the fruits of one’s labor”. Unalienable means they cannot be transferred to another or taken away by law.  Government has no legitimate power to infringe on or otherwise interfere with the legitimate exercise of the unalienable rights of their citizens.

You will notice that all of these “rights groups” are self-sufficient within themselves.  They are dependent on outside agencies only in a passive way.  In other words, they can be interfered with by outside forces such as government or fellow citizens, but they cannot be granted by them.

It is important to distinguish between “rights” which are natural and independent, and “privileges” which are dependent on the actions of others or the granting by government.  Most if not all social programs commonly claimed as “rights” are in reality privileges and not rights at all.  For example, healthcare, financial or economic security, civil marriage, etc., are all privileges because they must be actively supplied by someone else, individually or collectively through government or other groups.

Government attempts at wealth or income redistribution or “leveling” are unconstitutional infringements on our property rights or the right to enjoy the fruits of our labor.  Taxes confiscated from a few in order to provide social programs for select individuals or groups are likewise unconstitutional infringements on our right to the “pursuit of happiness” insofar as it diminishes our own prosperity.

Any effort to renew the conservative movement and get it “back on track” must be anchored in these principles and directed toward the defense and promotion of our founding documents, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.  These documents are the sum total of the true Conservative Manifesto.

Interpreting the Constitution

liberty-bellOne of the ongoing controversies that have plagued us for the past two hundred or so years is how we should interpret the Constitution.  Should it be interpreted literally or in some esoteric fashion?  I suppose we should not be too upset that we have not solved the problem in over two hundred years.  The same controversy also surrounds the Bible and it is thousands of years old.

It has always struck me that those who attempt to interpret the written word in some abstruse manner are arguing against the purpose of language. As the popular wordsmith, Rush Limbaugh often points out, words have meaning, otherwise they are of no use in transferring thought from one person to another.  On the other hand, if words could only be seen from one perspective, those who practice the mysterious art of literary criticism would be out of work and we might have another class of citizens feeding at the public trough.

The problem with departing from the literal interpretation of the Constitution is that you destroy its value as a legal document once you stray from the clear meaning of its words.  The Constitution is a contract governing the relationship between three entities, the federal government, the state governments and the people governed.

Every person agrees to accept that contract when they assume the role of citizenship, whether by birth or naturalization.  Every public official agrees to it when they take the oath of office. No savvy person would agree to be party to a contract if the meaning of that contract could be changed at the whim of one party but not the other.

I was reminded of this a couple of days ago when I posted a comment relating the Constitution to the “social contract” theories of John Locke on another blog and got the following response from a fellow reader.

“I agree with you on the Constitution functioning like a social contract, but should we really INTERPRET it like a contract? Is it a smart idea to narrowly and strictly interpret a government-founding document that lasts as long as our country does? Some things the founders were explicit about — the amount in controversy required to have a right to a jury, for example. But other stuff was left purposefully vague because they realized this document needed to be flexible to survive the test of time.”

How else would one interpret a contract other than as a contract? We have seen the dangers of “flexible contracts” in our current financial troubles.  The Constitution is not an “adjustable rate mortgage” designed to change with the needs of the marketplace.  The value of a Constitution is that it does not change with every episode in the political life of the country.  Otherwise, why have a constitution?  Why not simply allow the legislative bodies to decide what the supreme law of the land is at any given time?

The idea that the Constitution purposely contains vague passages in order to provide a flexible document that would adjust to circumstances over time comports well with our new President-Elect’s view of the Constitution, but it has no demonstrable basis in reality.  The idea is not new, however. It forms the basis for the concept of a “living Constitution”.

The clause most often used to support the flexibility of the Constitution is the so-called “elastic clause” found at the end of Article I, Section 8. It gives to Congress the power to make…

“…all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.”

Adherents to the “living constitution” theory focus on the words “necessary and proper”.  We would all be better served if they would focus first on the words, “foregoing powers” and “vested by this Constitution”.  There is nothing ambiguous or flexible in this clause.

It does give Congress some latitude in determining what is “necessary and proper”, but only in “carrying into execution the foregoing powers” and “all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government”.

“Foregoing powers” obviously refers to the powers just enumerated in the preceding portion of Section Eight.  “All other powers”, refers to powers found in other sections of the Constitution.  These relate to the powers given to the Judiciary and Legislative branches, also quite specific and limited. The only two references to Congressional power aside from section 8 are found in Article III, Section 3 giving Congress limited power to declare the punishment for treason, and Article 4, Section 3 giving it the power to make laws governing territories and other properties belonging to the United States.

Other examples of the authority of Congress to make laws, authorizes it to modify or prescribe processes for implementing specific requirements of the Constitution such as the removal, death or resignation of the President and Vice-President and implementing the “full faith and credit” clause in Article IV, Section 1.

Readers can easily establish for themselves the specificity and limitations on Congressional Powers by pulling up a single-page copy of the Constitution and doing a word search by opening the edit tab on their browser, clicking on “find” and typing in the word “Congress”.  Repeat with the word “Power”.

The argument is often made that circumstances require the federal government to become involved in issues not specifically covered by the Constitution.  Education, healthcare and energy are three of the most common ones of the past few decades.  Fortunately the First Congress of 1789 provided for this argument in the Tenth Amendment ratified in 1791 under pressure from the Anti-Federalists.

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people”
~Constitutional Amendment 10

There is nothing ambiguous or non-specific about this or any other part of the Constitution.  The Constitution does not require interpretation.  It requires application.  Those who have trouble understanding the meaning of its language should invest in a good dictionary.

Certainly the founders understood that time and progress might place new requirements on the government.  They provided for this in Article V setting forth the requirements for constitutional amendments.  If the proponents for expanding the power of government cannot muster up enough political support for their cause to successfully navigate the requirements for an amendment, it’s a pretty good sign that it is not necessary or desirable.  That’s the way the founders intended it to be.

Obama Seeks to Redefine Patriotism

The American people have a special regard for patriots; hence most people strive to be thought of as patriotic. This is especially true of those who hold or aspire to elective office. In the last few election cycles there has been a concerted effort to redefine patriotism.

The traditional “short” definition of patriot is “someone who loves and defends his or her country” (Webster). In the broadest sense, this definition is adequate. However to apply the term to an individual you must first define what is meant by the terms, “loves”, “defends” and “country”.

These are all general terms and must be narrowed considerably in order to be helpful in forming an opinion about what it means to be patriotic. To say someone loves their country does not tell you very much about the person’s feelings toward that country. Exactly what is it the person loves? The geography? The people? The climate? The customs? The government? The traditions? The culture? What?

When they talk about loving America are they talking about the America that exists today or an idealized picture of the America they would like to see exist in the future? When they talk about defending America, exactly what is it they want to defend? The government? The culture? The economic system? The political system? What?

In a speech Sunday given in Independence, Missouri, at the Harry Truman Library, Obama attempted to defend his own version of patriotism. In doing so, he vowed never to question the patriotism of others and added “I will not stand idly by when I hear others question mine.”

In our politically correct culture it is not considered proper to question someone’s patriotism. In fact, it has become fashionable when criticizing someone’s political position to preface the criticism with a statement disavowing any intention of questioning the patriotism of the person being criticized. Not being a fan of political correctness, I can say unequivocally, “I do not question the patriotism of Barack Obama, simply because, in my opinion, he has none, therefore there is nothing to question“.

To me, this is a demonstrative, provable fact. If he is patriotic, the object of that patriotism is not America as it exists today. Consider with me, for a moment, just what patriotism means. The word Patriot refers to someone who is patriotic. “Patriotic” is an adjective which according to Webster is a word used to describe or limit a noun. In order for the term “patriotic” to have real meaning it must have an object. In America, when we speak of someone being patriotic or a patriot, we mean they are a patriotic American. To be more specific, we are saying the object of their patriotic feelings, thoughts and actions, is America.

Which brings us to the question: What is America? A nation is defined by three characteristics; its culture, its economic system, and its government. The American culture is Judeo-Christian. That is to say, it draws its social values and moral standards from its Judeo-Christian heritage. You may wish to argue with that statement, but let’s save that for another day. Our economic system is free-market capitalism and our government is a constitutional republic.

An American patriot is someone who loves and is willing to defend, with their life if necessary, its culture, its economic system and its government. It goes without saying, if you are willing to defend a government with your life, it’s a good idea to understand just what that government is. George Bush, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, or Dick Durbin is not the government. They are employees hired by the voters to administer the government, but they are not the government. Neither are the bureaucracies, courts, or other institutions responsible for the government’s functioning.

The American government has two essential elements, its form and its Constitution. The form of the American government is a republic. It is presided over by persons elected or appointed to represent the interests of the people for a specified period of time and who are subject to the will of the people and the rule of law. The Constitution is the first and supreme law of the land. All subsequent laws, in order to be valid, i.e., lawful, must be consistent with those contained in the Constitution.

While the laws contained in the Constitution are specific and easily understood by the populace, there are no specific penalties prescribed for their violation other than dismissal from positions of “trust or profit” within the government. An appointed official who violates the Constitution is subject to dismissal by their elected superiors. An elected official who violates the Constitution or fails to discipline subordinates who do is subject to being dismissed by the voters in the next election. In particularly egregious violations both are subject to impeachment and if in the process of violating the Constitution they also violated a statute they are subject to criminal prosecution in a court of law.

Every official in all levels of government within the United States, from the policeman on the beat to the President in the oval office, is sworn to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States”. It is obvious that all officials do not take that oath seriously, considering it to be only a ceremonial requirement. The real defenders of the Constitution are the American people and those who fail to do so are not entitled to be called patriotic.

In Obama’s case, he does not support the Constitution, he does not support the government, he does not support the economy, and he does not support the culture. He believes they all need to be improved or changed to fit his concept of what America should be. In his speech Sunday he pleaded for acceptance of his version of patriotism this way. “…surely, we can arrive at a definition of patriotism that, however rough and imperfect, captures the best of America’s common spirit.” In the same speech he also said,” when we argue about patriotism, we are arguing about who we are as a country, and more importantly, who we should be.”

When Obama speaks of “change” he is speaking of changing our economic system from free-market capitalism to socialism, our form of government from a constitutional republic to a socialist democracy and our culture to a conglomeration of all the cultures of the world.

It has been said, the difference between a rebel and a patriot depends on who wins. That’s a true statement. Thomas Jefferson, who I believe to be one of America’s greatest patriots was not always so. Prior to July 4, 1776 he was an unpatriotic subject of the British Crown. On July 4, 1776 he officially became a revolutionary and remained one until the new Government was formed on November 15, 1777 under the Articles of Federation. On that date he became an American patriot and later changed his allegiance from the Federation to the Constitutional Republic founded in 1787 with the signing of the Constitution. To say he was a patriot before 1777 you have to identify the object of his patriotism. It could not have been the United States of America because they did not exist.

One cannot be a revolutionary and a patriot at he same time in regard to the same object. The terms are mutually exclusive. If you support your country including its government you are a patriot. If you seek to change your country and/or its government by unlawful means you are a revolutionary, not a patriot. Seeking to change our government through judicial fiat, congressional disregard for the Constitution, or by executive order of the President are all unconstitutional and unlawful and therefore revolutionary. Obama and all those who support his desire to change the government using any means other than constitutional amendments are revolutionaries and not patriots.

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