|Steve Long / The Otter Limits|
The Otter Limits' Steve Long is a regular contributor to Red Dirt Report.
By Steve Long
The Otter Limits
Posted: July 28, 2012
EDMOND, Okla. -- The
biggest problems in our country can be directly linked to the way our elected
officials govern it. Legislators create bad legislation. Presidents over-reach
their power. Courts quietly legislate from the bench. The central problem with
their political behavior is that these elected officials are not basing their
decisions on the United States Constitution.
The actual document on which our country was created is no longer of importance to most of the people we send to represent us in the federal government.
Many of the actions taken by the federal government in the last few decades are in direct violation to the supreme law of our land.
For example, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are not constitutional. These
wars were never declared by Congress. It is the constitutional duty of Congress
to declare wars. It is not a role listed in the Section 2 of the Constitution
where it outlines the functions of the President. Additionally, the reasoning
behind them are suspect and have little (if anything at all) to do with the
protection of American citizens.
The Patriot Act is not constitutional. It is one of the primary duties of the federal government to protect the liberties of each individual American citizen. The Patriot Act undermines these liberties. It gives the federal government entirely too much power to observe and monitor the private lives of American citizens.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (otherwise known as Obamacare) is not constitutional. Despite what the Supreme Court has said about it, it is neither the constitutional duty nor the responsibility of the federal government to control and provide health care for each individual. This is a matter best left to the states. The same idea applies to the Medicare program as well.
The Social Security program is not constitutional. Again, it is neither the constitutional duty nor the responsibility of the federal government to provide retirement income to the elderly. There is something to be said for personal responsibility and personal accountability in this particular matter. That being said, I do not think that this program should be eliminated cold turkey. It is a program that has been in effect for decades and it is an entitlement that was promised to those reaching a specific age and many people above that age depend on this program and it would not be responsible or fair to completely pull that income out from under them. This is a program that should be phased out gradually. We can start by raising the age of eligibility and by making it a voluntary program, allowing people that are not yet of that age to either opt-out of the program entirely, or convert their contributions to a personal retirement account.
Presidential signing statements are not constitutional. Signing statements often change the entire meaning of a piece of legislation that comes across his desk. The framers of the Constitution never intended for one man to have this much power. That was the reason the Constitution exists. Checks and balances. According to the Constitution, in regards to responding to a piece of legislation that comes to his office, he has three choices of what to do with it: sign it into law, veto the bill, or do nothing with it. It does not authorize a President to do anything else with a bill, and that most certainly includes issuing a signing statement.
Along the same lines as signing statements, Presidential Executive Orders are not constitutional. They allow a President to make laws without the approval of Congress. The Constitution specifically states that the power to legislate, that is, to make laws, is given to the Legislature. It does not give the President any authority at all to legislate. Executive Orders issues by a President are as bad, if not worse, than signing statements when it comes to infringements of Congressional authority.
I could go into more examples but I believe my point has been made here.
When a person is elected to the Presidency, they must take an oath of office. That oath of office states “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will……..preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” A person elected to the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives must also take a similar oath of office. That oath also states that they swear (or affirm) to support and defend the U.S. Constitution.
Every one of our elected officials has taken this oath of office and every one of our elected officials must be held accountable for their actions, especially if they are acting against their oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution.
When a person holds an elected office and a piece of legislation comes up, that person must make a decision whether they approve of the measure or they oppose it. There are 2 questions that should burn through their minds as they attempt to make this decision. One, is this piece of legislation constitutional? If the answer is no, then the decision should be an easy one. If the answer is yes, then question two should be will this piece of legislation increase the powers of the government. If the answer is yes, then that should make their decision to vote against it easy. If the answer is no, then they have to look at the actual merits of the legislation.
If a legislator knowingly and willingly supports and approves of a measure that is in direct violation of the United States Constitution, then that person should no longer represent us because they are directly violating their oath of office. Quite simply, they cannot be trusted to do the job they were elected to do.
At the very least, we as American citizens should keep ourselves educated about things that are going on in our government and write our legislators if we think what they are doing violates their oath. It all comes down to accountability.
The United States Constitution must be defended against all enemies, foreign, and especially domestic.
Steve Long operates The Otter Limits blog and is a contributor to Red Dirt Report. He lives in Edmond, Oklahoma. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Red Dirt Report.
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