(John R. Bolton, Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, concerning ‘international law’ versus Constitutional authority)
In the Hillsdale College lecture series “Introduction to the Constitution”, Part 4, Dr. Larry Arnn, president of the College, distinguishes between Constitutional rule and bureaucratic, centralized government rule. Both, he points out, are at work in our nation today. He believes the time is coming when Americans will have to make a choice. He uses the analogy of a house divided, stating that it cannot remain so indefinitely. I wish he were wrong, but I fear he is not. I wonder if the majority of Americans realize that such a crisis situation is and has been developing in our country, and that a day of reckoning may be appearing on our national horizon in our lifetimes. If many American citizens are not even aware that liberty-threatening danger exists, how will they know what path & course to choose to avert that danger, when they are asked to do so? Or when they must do so?
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of upholding the Constitution of the United States of America. As I am not a student of Constitutional law, I can only assume that interpreting it must often prove to be complicated, depending on circumstances – not so black and white. Yet, in seeking this ultimate goal of upholding the Constitution, there are no shades of gray. To the very best of our ability, abiding by this powerful founding document is the only wise choice for those who love liberty.
Our Constitution was not something created to be pushed aside or dismissed. According to Dr. Arnn, the very word ‘constitution’ embodies the idea of something very big being set firmly in place. In comparison to its predecessor, the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution waxed triumphant. Whereas the Articles allowed for no executive, judicial, taxing or enforcement powers to be given the central government of the new young nation, the Constitution authorized, arranged, and yet restrained these things for the common good. Whereas the Articles rendered the government of those days so impotent that George Washington attributed the near-disaster at Valley Forge to it, and Thomas Jefferson, in a still Revolutionary 1781, lamented the future of the United States to be “going down hill” because of this weakness, the Constitution granted the government, through Congress, the right & duty to remedy such potential catastrophes. Congress was given the right to prepare for & declare war. (Article I, Sections 8.11 – 8.16) The Articles of Confederation merely bonded the states in a “firm league of friendship with each other.” Without some centralized authority, States could and often did disregard requests from a government that had no power. Bickering & animosities, boundary quarrels, commerce and money issues developed between states. Civil officials and American representatives overseas went unpaid, as well as our soldiers, who then mutinied. State sovereignty was operating on overkill, resulting in riots, mobs, revolts, exorbitant taxation & business closures. Talk of monarchy was beginning to be heard, even among its opponents. George Washington saw conditions “…fast verging to anarchy and confusion.” He wrote, “I do not conceive we can exist long as a nation without having lodged somewhere a power, which will pervade the whole Union…” (Robert G. Athearn, The American Heritage Illustrated History of the United States, Vol. 4, p.282,283 ) Radical government restructuring was critical to the survival of the United States of America. A convention called for the purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation produced instead the supreme law of the land, the Constitution of the United States of America.
And that has made all the difference.
With the exception of the Internet and technological advancement in every area, I would submit that any kind of situation or crisis that may develop today existed back in the days of America’s founding. Essentially, people are the same. We still want and need the same things today as our forefathers and their families did back then. Sure, travel & communications time is greatly reduced and weapons have much greater destructive capabilities, but the people who produced these commodities & inventions…still people like those who sat in the Constitutional Convention, like those who signed the Declaration of Independence. Saints & sinners alike. Perhaps impatient, wanting freedom and/or power, needing to eat, wanting to socialize & marry…with the potential for both good & evil…able to think and speak and act.
We, and they, can go or could’ve gone either way, towards liberty, towards love…or over to the dark side. (Sometimes within the same hour!) So my question is, if this Constitution of the United States of America pulled a struggling, near desperate nation out of the jaws of the lion back then, and lifted her to heights only dreamed of & debated about by other societies in other times, why would abiding by its principles not prove just as effective and beneficial today?