President Bush's 2006 State of the Union address, while undeniably a superb piece of political gamesmanship, highlighted the fundamental disconnect between most of the President's positions and the principles of constitutionally-limited government. This is hardly a new development, since the leadership of both major parties has treated portions of the Constitution as a dead letter for generations. Nevertheless, as the only national party whose platform is 100% constitutional, we are duty-bound to remind the American public of what is really at stake with issues like terrorism, welfare, social security, and other matters attracting attention in Washington.
We agree with President Bush that our strength as a nation flows from the freedoms that we enjoy, and that we must strive, and, if necessary, make sacrifices, in order to protect those freedoms. But love of freedom and love of country are not necessarily the same thing. While we applaud the outpouring of genuine patriotism in the wake of 9-11 and the heartfelt desire to support the men and women serving in America's Armed Forces, we must point out that our freedoms are guaranteed in the final analysis by a United States Constitution that not only safeguards certain God-given rights but also imposes very clear restrictions on the powers of our own federal government. Love of freedom, therefore, must include a reverence for the Constitution and respect for the limits it places on power.
Unfortunately, many of our leaders in Washington have shown that they are willing to use crises to justify extra-constitutional expansion of government powers. Since 9-11, we have witnessed a significant expansion of executive powers to search without warrants, imprison without a trial, and pursue alleged criminals without accountability to due process. We heard President Bush argue for reauthorizing the Patriot Act, a bill that was rushed through Congress without proper scrutiny by lawmakers, and which embodies the old cliche about the devil being in the details. The Bush Administration is also completely unapologetic about authorizing the CIA and NSA to conduct domestic espionage, another extremely dangerous precedent that could become a pretext for further abuse of executive power by future administrations.
We have also become involved in two major overseas wars, neither of which was authorized by a Constitutionally-mandated Congressional declaration. The fact that we have not fought a declared war since World War II is not an excuse for cavalier disregard of this critical limit on the powers of the Executive branch, which was intended, as Alexander Hamilton explained in the Federalist Papers, to ensure that the American President would not possess the power of an Old World monarch to start wars at his own discretion. Nor are the various political arguments in favor of military intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan justification for ignoring the Constitution. The power to start wars is easily abused, and has been exploited throughout history by unscrupulous despots to solidify their hold on power. If we continue to grant president after president carte blanche to wage war at his personal whim, we should not be surprised to see greater and greater abuses of this power, and more and more frequent resorts to military action all over the world.
Some in Congress have protested that the Bush Administration doctored the evidence to push America into war in Iraq. But few of those Congressmen were willing to hold President Bush accountable in the first place, by insisting that a Declaration of War be debated and voted upon.
President Bush made it clear that his vision, like that of most of his recent predecessors, is for America to continue to be militarily engaged all over the world, overthrowing hostile governments and waging an open-ended war on terrorism. He derided those who oppose such a course of action as "isolationists." America has never been isolationist, but it was once very sensibly non-interventionist. The Founding Fathers themselves were keenly interested in trade and diplomacy, and many of them were well-educated in foreign languages, culture and history. But they did not want America transformed into some kind of global policeman. They understood that America neither possessed the resources nor the moral authority to impose her will on the entire world.
In 1820, for example, when Greece was fighting a valiant battle for freedom against a cruel and oppressive Ottoman regime, America was pressured to lend her support to the cause. President John Quincy Adams, on July 4th of that year, responded to those who would have involved America in an overseas quarrel by reminding his listeners that America "goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own... She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom. The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force.... She might become the dictatress of the world. She would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit....[America's] glory is not dominion, but liberty." This wise counsel is just as applicable today. Incidentally, the Greeks won their independence, fighting against one of the most powerful empires of the day, without American aid money and without American troops.
President Bush also took issue with what he and like-minded internationalists call protectionism. They accuse protectionists of building walls around America and trying to shut out world trade. We do not oppose trade as such. What we oppose are international agreements that deliberately hobble American industry. We also oppose unwise policies that not merely permit trade but throw open our borders, attempts to compromise our sovereignty under the guise of so-called "free trade" agreements like NAFTA and the WTO, and domestic laws that impose such steep taxes and regulatory penalties that American companies are given strong incentives to move their operations overseas.
President Bush rightly stated in his address that America still leads the world in talent. If that is the case, then why are so many talented American workers losing their jobs to overseas competitors? Simply put, it is because our own policies are making it prohibitively expensive to hire domestic workers for many functions. President Bush claims he wants to strengthen American workers and continue to encourage investment, research, and development. He stated "With open markets and a level playing field, no one can out-produce or out-compete the American worker." But his administration has done everything it can to give Mexicans, Indians, and Chinese a competitive advantage over American workers. The president simply cannot be given credit for sincerity in this matter.
The huge unpopularity of our government's immigration policy has forced our politicians to mouth pieties they disbelieve. The President said "Our nation needs orderly and secure borders. To meet this goal, we must have stronger immigration enforcement and border protection." The very reason we do not have immigration enforcement and border protection is that there has been a deliberate policy under administrations of both parties not to enforce the laws of the land. The President goes on to reject amnesty which he championed when he thought he could get away with it.
In fact, all our establishment politicians serve corporate interests who would further drive down wages for working Americans and dilute the American national character with Third World immigrants whose tragic national histories too often leave them with no ability to appreciate America's legacy of ordered liberty and the rule of law.
The President correctly pointed out that America has become addicted to foreign oil, especially oil produced in unstable parts of the world. Yet he made no mention of the continual refusal of the federal government to authorize oil and natural gas extraction in places like the Arctic National Wildlife refuge, or of the burdensome regulations that have hamstrung domestic oil extraction for much of the last couple of decades.
President Bush, like almost everyone in Washington these days, believes that there are few problems that cannot be solved by the creative application of government power. In his address he recommended further federal involvement in education, health care, social security, and a host of other concerns. He said, for example, that "Our government has a responsibility to help provide health care for the poor and the elderly." In fact, nowhere is providing health care for the poor and elderly authorized in the U.S. Constitution. That these may be noble ends does not justify using unconstitutional means to attain them. The same may be said for federal government involvement in education, social security, welfare, and so forth.
To many Americans, this may sound cruel and heartless, because we have become so accustomed to demand that government provide for us the things that, in most cases, we can and ought to provide for ourselves. Those of us who champion limited constitutional government will always be at a rhetorical disadvantage to those who, like President Bush, prefer to disregard the Constitution and promise whatever they think will sell to a prime time audience.
But our vision is optimistic. We believe that only by returning to our constitutional roots will we make progress in paying off our colossal national debt, providing for our national security, and stabilizing our economy. We believe that ballooning costs in health care and education are best solved by less government intervention, not more. We expect our elected leaders to adhere strictly to their constitutional oaths of office, and make no apologies for holding them to their obligations. We want a strong America leading the worldwide cause of freedom, but by example, not by military force, unless absolutely necessary. We applaud the growth of marvelous new technologies like the Internet, where the absence of government oversight has allowed unprecedented innovation and wealth creation. We look forward to the day when the blight of abortion is once again illegal. Above all, we hope for a return to the moral values that made America great in the first place, and pray that Almighty God will bless our nation as we move in that direction.
Friday, February 17, 2006
Constitution Party Responds to Bush's State of the Union
I received this the other week and wanted to post it for your information. This is the response of the Constitution Party to the State of the Union speech by President Bush.