First, let me communicate my appreciation for the attention, as of late, paid to our political process. I detailed in a recent article that in large part, waking the silent majority has been an unintended, successful consequence of the President’s abject failure in the Oval Office.
I applaud the creation of the document, “Pledge of Renewal of the Constitution”, intended to motivate modern American Patriotism. I, for one, believe that patriotism is part of each person’s civic duty. This duty spans from remaining cognizant of political events, emerging political ideologies and personalities, right up to, and including rallying people to the polls to vote.
The Pledge of Renewal of the Constitution serves to convince me that America still has a pulse of freedom, and that our liberty continues to illuminate the path to freedom like a beacon; “Like a shining city on a hill”, as expressed by President Reagan.
However, although I believe the effort is well intentioned, I must take issue with much of the content in the “Pledge of Renewal of the Constitution”. Please bear with me as I explain in detail.
To begin, the title expresses a desire to “Renew” the Constitution. This indicates a belief that the Constitution is inadequate, that we need a new and improved Constitution. I do not believe this to be the case. Rather, I stand firm on the idea that our nation need only ‘Revitalize’ our Constitution and spend the time and energy to comprehend it and then diligently hold the metaphoric feet of our Government to the limitations contained therein.
The document begins by quoting, “Eternal vigilance is the price of Liberty”, and “power corrupting, and absolute power corrupting absolutely.” These statements are credited to our ‘Forefathers’, intimating that the statements originated with either the Founders, who signed the Declaration of Independence, or the Framers that forged the Constitution.
It is important, when basing an argument on quotes, to credit the source of the quote. In the first instance, the statement you ‘paraphrase’ is derived from a speech given by John Philpot Curran on July 10, 1790, on the right of election of Lord Mayor of Dublin, Ireland.
The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt.
The next statement comes from a letter written by Lord Acton, to Bishop Mandell Creighton on April 3, 1887 which states,
Power tends to corrupt absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Whether or not an individual agrees with the intent of the quotes, noting where they originated keeps the expressed opinions factual. In this case each quote is referred to as “warnings from our Forefathers”, when in fact the first came a few years after the signing of the Constitution, from a political speech in Dublin Ireland, and the other originated from a British Lord a century later.
Although I cannot disagree that ‘We the People’ are collectively guilty of neglecting the responsibilities of living in a free nation, it is important to comprehend that a threat of a ‘New World Order’ is not the only threat to our fundamental form of Government, as intended by the Founders and shaped by the Framers. There are some who simply aspire to change our nation to a socialist country, attempting to incrementally establish absolute dependency of the People, on the Government, whose members claim to ‘know what’s best for the People’. There is yet another group who simply lust for Power, not caring what type of Government exists.
The fact is, ‘We the People’ need to remain steadfast in defending our freedom and liberty, our nation, from all enemies, foreign and domestic, whether they attempt to invade violently, silently, or politically.
The document goes on to ask us to “solemnly pledge to strive toward these goals and abide by these principles to re-empower We The People, reconstitute the Constitution, and restore our Republic.”
I agree with your assertion that “Now is the moment to rescue our heritage of Freedom and Liberty”. However, “succumbing to the devils of our lesser nature” seems more than a little accusatory and lacks explicit details to back up the claim. We the People have however, not lived up to the Trust bequeathed to us by our Forefathers.
Again, I point out that reconstituting the Constitution implies that the original document is faulty and needs to be replaced, even though the Constitution has withstood the test of time for over two hundred years. Any claim that the Constitution needs “reconstituting”, or to some form of a “do-over”, should be tenaciously denied by any who believe in the Constitution, without deliberation. To argue for a revitalization of the Constitution however, is a valid rallying call for modern American Patriots.
Furthermore, I would argue that it is impossible to “solemnly pledge to strive toward these goals…” If an individual makes a solemn pledge, it is an oath of action, you cannot strive to act, either you act, or you do not.
Cut Government Waste and Reform Finances and Taxation by:
This section of the ‘Pledge’ document is riddled with contradictions, propositions that require a thoroughness of thought, to maintain the intent of the Framers.
Item 1, “Use unspent stimulus funds to help pay down the debt.”
The Government is not in possession of a large portion of the stimulus money yet unspent. While expressing a desire to “cut losses and control spending”, the document condones fiscal irresponsibility by proposing that Congress continue borrowing money for the stimulus, then spend it toward paying the national debt. Beyond the fact that it is impossible to borrow our way out of debt, something about allowing Congress to borrow money for one thing, and then turn around and spend the borrowed money on something other than what it was intended sounds a little familiar.
Item 2, “Halt any further debt increase and set a timeline to reel it back down.”
This is a good idea that is sound in principle. Item 2 is made moot however, if item 1 is carried out.
Therefore, in considering the two items together, it would seem that calling for Congress to repeal the failed Stimulus Act, cease and desist of any further unconstitutional spending called for in the Bill, and return whatever money still in their possession would be a more responsible action, and thus would eliminate item 1 and remain in accordance with item 2.
At face value, most Americans will agree with item 3, “Defund and dismantle departments and agencies that are unconstitutional.”
However, item 3 is directly contradicted in the final clause of the same section due to the following points:
- Although Congress claims the Federal Reserve exists in the “Private Sector”, the actions of the Federal Reserve are performed at the behest of the Government and the Officers of the Federal Reserve are appointed, and hired, directly by the Government. Thus, the Federal Reserve should only be viewed as a “Government Entity”, and therefore is unconstitutional as Article I, Section 8, mandates to Congress the responsibility to:
- Borrow Money on the credit of the United States
- To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes
- Establish uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States
- coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin
- As demonstrated above (in 1.a), Article I, Section 8 authorizes Congress to “borrow Money on the credit of the United States.” However, there is no authority granted in the Constitution to create a “credit-based money system” called for in the ‘Pledge’ document.
Item 4, “Cut pay to all elected officials by fifty percent.”
Though I agree with the concept of reducing the salaries of politicians, this proposal does not take into account that all those elected to public office, at the State and Federal levels, are expected to maintain two residences, one in their hometown and one at the Capitol, and travel between.
Therefore, if we want to mandate “salary caps”, yet avoid financially limiting who may serve in political office, it would be more logical to legislate that these elected positions be treated as “Contract Positions”, receiving a salary two and a half times the national median income of the nation, excluding businesses. If, in fact, the separate States provide lodging for those elected from their State, we could limit the salary to one and a half times the national median income, excluding businesses.
Basing congressional salaries on the actual demographics of the represented strips Congress of the ability to vote a raise for themselves, yet allows the people we elect to maintain the two separate residences required, travel to and from their hometown, and not suffer financial losses in performing their duties. In addition, it changes the attitude of holding a political office to one of servitude as opposed to a career move.
Items 5, 6, and 8 are actually quite good, though I would again refrain from making percentage based salary cuts and use the above mentioned, ensuring the top salary level of any support staff not exceed one and a half times the national median income of the People, with salaries commensurate with the required duties of the positions.
As to the number of staff members, there should be a valid formula as opposed to throwing out an arbitrary number of a fifty percent reduction. More importantly, we need to mandate that staff members are hired from the State represented by the elected official, and only maintain the position as long as the person they work for holds office.
Therefore, these staff members would be termed ‘Temporary Staff, or Employees”, working for “Contracted Positions”, and would no longer need Unions to represent their long term interests or pension plans in accordance with item 8.
As to item seven, any American who comprehends the importance of this issue, and the intended insult to Liberty, by appointing ‘Czars’, should readily agree with this suggestion.
“Adopting simplified and transparent tax codes.”
Most Americans could not agree more on any one issue. However, I would like to know where anybody came up with the idea that “twenty-five percent keeps better faith with our heritage.” You will not find this ideology in the Constitution.
I read the on-line comment, of which was readily applauded, regarding a tax rate of “10% for individuals, 15% for small companies, with deductibles of $36,000 for individuals, $100,000 for small businesses, and $1,000,000 for corporations. (The author failed to stipulate a proposed tax rate for corporations.)
Just off the top of my head, I can foresee every individual opting for some version of self-employment as contracted labor, self-incorporating, and thus qualifying for the $1,000,000 deductible rate leaving even fewer taxpayers than currently fund the system.
I do not understand the belief of some, that we need deductions or any form of graduated tax rates. Protections under the Government are provided to all citizens equally. Just because an individual earns more or less income does not allow for any compromise of protections expected from the Government. Incrementalism provides opportunity for statistical divisions and ammunition for class warfare, and enables Government to construct obstacles to the People.
It amazes me that nobody has floated the idea of returning to the simplest method of taxation; that proscribed in the original writing of Article I, Section 2, Clause 3, of the Constitution.
Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.
Restrict the role of the Federal Government to only that which is authorized in Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution, propose an annual budget to operate the Federal Government, and after receiving the consent of the Senate, fund the Federal Government with proportionate funding from the several States based on the Census performed each decade. Allow each State to best determine how to meet their responsibility of funding their proportionate share of the Federal Government.
Reform Energy, Environmental, and Economic Policies by:
No argument here. Although there is value to maintaining environmental responsibility, regulatory policies should be based on factual evidence that can be proved beyond reasonable doubt, not debatable theories based on emotions and fictitious beliefs.
It would be prudent however, to include marketing criteria in establishing policies regarding the subtitle subjects. Part of being a ‘free nation’ is the right of individuals to profit from their labors. However, no policies should allow for products or services in which profits can only be obtained, or sustained, through Government Subsidization.
Prohibit Federal Entry Into the Private Sector by:
The ‘Pledge’ document calls for “Disallowing Federal ownership of any business or enterprise that provides goods and services to the public.”
This is a valid point that I believe most Americans will agree with. However, as noted above, any disallowance of Government ownership of business or enterprise, should include language banning the practice of Government subsidization of business or enterprise.
Furthermore, in establishing a ban of “Corporatism”, it is not wise to limit any such ban to issues that “conflict with national sovereignty” as such language, as proven time, and again, invites abuses based on interpretation. America has the benefit of ‘lessons learned’, it is time we heed these lessons.
Protect the 1st and 2nd Amendments by:
The last clause of this section of the ‘Pledge’ document becomes the most troubling as it contains ill-conceived notions that border on fanaticism, and at the very least is Christian fundamentalism, when it states,
Reaffirming the predominant influence that shaped our country was Natural Law as filtered through Christianity. Our Forefathers espoused separation of church and state, but they dreaded separation from the inherent moral imperatives of Religion. These imperatives are essential to binding a free and responsible society: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” In so far as any religion holds to these truths, we embrace that religion.
“Natural Law”, which guided the Founders, is NOT filtered through Christianity. It is the “Law of Nature” that respectively applies to every person on earth, regardless of religion, through which individuals posses unalienable rights not granted by man.
The Framers never espoused a “Separation of Church and States”. Although the idea is credited to have originated from the English political philosopher John Locke, the most popular assertion originated came in a private letter written in 1802, by Former President Thomas Jefferson, to the Danbury Baptist. The only reference to religion in the Constitution is found in Article VI, Clause 3, which ends by stipulating,
… no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
Fanaticism, or Christian fundamentalism, is contained in the last sentence of the section, “In so far as any religion holds to these truths, we embrace that religion.”
In the first amendment we find,
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;
The free exercise of religion is just that and does not include any qualifiers, requiring compliance of thought, regarding “Natural Law”. Rather, the first amendment mandates that each person have the right to free exercise of any religion.
Reform Foreign Policy by:
The ‘Pledge’ document states, “Recognizing the need to participate in global initiatives, but not at the expense of national sovereignty unless said initiative is debated and ratified as a Constitutional amendment.”
The intent of the Constitution is to limit the power and authority of Government and detail that Government was instituted to protect the rights of the Governed, and thereby protect and defend America’s sovereignty. Therefore, understanding this, while contemplating the need of participation in global initiatives, America can never betray our sovereignty, under any circumstance.
Galvanize the “4th Branch of Government” by:
Although journalists provide a significant service to the People, they, like every individual, only maintain the right to Freedom of Speech, in the first amendment. Considering the ‘media’ as the “4th Branch of Government” is an unprecedented, unconstitutional, and unwarranted promotion.
The Constitution details three branches of Government, the Legislative, Executive, and the Judicial, then identifies the Several States and the People respectively as additional participants or ‘branches’.
After “reaffirming freedom of speech”, the ‘Pledge’ document calls for “curtailing agenda-driven reporting, cultivate objective information brokers”.
At the very least, this sounds similar to the “Sedition Act”, imposed by President John Adams, whereby he intended to stop a biased media, members of which were, at times, twisting information and outright lying. The answer to restoring any trust in public journalism, or the ‘media’, lies in public awareness and rejection of media manipulation of information.
Curb Political Dynasties and Promote Citizen Politicians by:
Item 1 calls for “Prohibiting any elected office from being passed to a direct relative of an incumbent.”
The Constitution details an election process for representation in the Legislative and Executive branches of Government. There is no allowance for a ‘dynasty’, or for an elected position to be passed down, or inherited.
Item 2 states, “Prohibiting relatives of an incumbent from running for his or her office within less than two full terms of that incumbent’s departure from said office.”
This proposal is seriously lacking in logic. The Constitution spells out the requirements of those elected to office, to ban an individual, based on the acts, or positions held, by a family member, violates the individual’s right to serve their country.
Furthermore, if the individual in question is the best-qualified candidate for the position, any ban, as proscribed in the proposal, potentially denies the People the service of the best candidate.
There is also an issue with “Condemning ‘arrest based on suspicion’ as unconstitutional” which is adequately debated in the on-line comments and therein conceded.
In light of the above-mentioned points, I urge anyone who has signed on to the ‘Pledge’ document to rescind their endorsement. We must be wary not to emulate that which we detest in efforts to abolish the suffrage of evils.
I understand that Patriotic Americans want to do something about the actions being perpetrated against our Constitution, in efforts to fundamentally ‘change; our form of Government, in ‘hope’ of forging a ‘New America’.
Therefore, I ask that you go to the “Reaffirmation” page on this site.
Thank you for considering my arguments.