Liberals Versus the Constitution

It was jarring to the ears to hear Democrats piously invoking the words and “original intent” of the Founders during the impeachment farce, because as everyone knows liberals would re-write the Constitution wholesale if they had the power to do so. The list of things they despise in our Constitution is quite long, i.e. get rid of the electoral college, abolish the Senate, etc. I’ve seen lists with as many as 25 or more specific changes liberals want. See Larry Sabato’s book, A More Perfect Constitution: Why the Constitution Must Be Revised as an example. And Sabato is a moderate in academia these days!

All the proposed “reforms” have one main thing in common: they are all designed to make it easier for liberals to win. Full stop. Every one makes the government more powerful, and turbo-charges “change”—the opiate addiction of progressives everywhere.

Today’s homily on the subject comes from a great old book (well, if you consider 1940 to be old) that our friends at Liberty Fund keep in print, Charles Howard McIlwain’s Constitutionalism Ancient and Modern. It’s one of my favorite short books on the history of the idea of constitutional government. McIlwain was a Harvard professor back then, but don’t hold that against him. That was back when Harvard was still vaguely pro-American. Here’s a small sample from McIlwain relevant to our time:

For perhaps never in its long history has the principle of constitutionalism been so questioned as it is questioned today, never has the attack upon it been so determined or so threatening as it is just now. The world is trembling in the balance between the orderly procedure of law and the processes of force which seem so much more quick and effective. . .

A constitutional government will always be a weak government when compared with an arbitrary one.  There will be many desirable things, as well as undesirable, which are easy for a despotism but impossible elsewhere.  Constitutionalism suffers from the defects inherent in its own merits.  Because it cannot do some evil it is prevented from doing some good.  Shall we, then, forego the good to prevent the evil, or shall we submit to the evil to secure the good?  This is the fundamental practical question of all constitutionalism.”

It is the foremost issue of the present political world; and it is amazing, and to many of us very alarming, to consider what insufferable barbarities nation after nation today is showing a willingness to submit, for the recompense it is getting or hopes to get from an arbitrary government.

McIlwain wrote this in 1940, and hence the last sentence here refers of course to the European fascists and Communists who had plunged the world into war partly out of their impatience to achieve utopia which fueled their contempt for constitutional government. Today it is our liberals who have a similar impatience and contempt for our constitutional forms.

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