Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Constitutional Ignorance and Ideologue Purists

It never ceases to amaze me the wisdom of those who wrote first, the Declaration of Independence in 1776, and second, the United States Constitution; particularly their insight into human nature. I am putting a link to The Federalist Papers on this Blog and I encourage you to read all 85 essays. These essays were published from October 1787 through Spring 1789 to the people of New York to sell the new Constitution and the formation of the United States and they are the thoughts of our Founders, in their own words. The human tendency for irrational behavior based on selfish, jealous or prejudiced beliefs is what the framers of the Constitution feared most. That fear is a prevalent thought throughout the Federalist Papers. And they were not concerned about a minority of people that might act against the best interests of the country, they were fearful of a majority who might act against the new government based on ideas that conflict with the basic freedoms and tenants of the new United States of America.

Hamilton introduces the discussion in the 1st Federalist Paper by noting that there will be many objections to the new United States Government; from powerful men in the States who will see their power diminished, by special political and religious interests who desire more specificity favoring their beliefs, and by state and local institutions adamant in their own survival and preeminence in the new country. I don’t think it is an accident that the discussion regarding a new country leads off with moderating the passions, prejudices and jealousies of people. By the time Hamilton wrote the first essay, the Continental Congress had spent several years writing the Constitution and arguing over every word of it from every conceivable point of view. In the end, they unanimously approved the final version. Wow! How can you not be impressed by that feat? How can you not be impressed by the final product of all of their work? The Constitution leads with these words:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

We are extremely fortunate that the men who wrote The Constitution KNEW history and KNEW the limits of their own prejudiced beliefs and jealousies. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be who we are and we wouldn’t live in the country we live in. However, I can’t help but think that today we are in a fight for survival of America; in one direction from the ideologue free market purists, and the other from neo-conservatives and social-conservatives who are more than willing to change our constitution to limit freedom.

The first, the ideologue free market purists, is more than willing to let the free market dogma rule and allow the devastating effect of volatile markets to destroy social institutions. It is okay, with them, if millions of households suddenly see savings disappear, their homes foreclosed and their children’s future diminished as long as the purity of a self-regulated market is maintained. It is even okay with them that the United States fall into a devastating depression where hunger and poverty prevail. Melissa Francis of CNBC’s The Call is a perfect example of the purist I speak of. She never fails to recite the mantra of the free market ideology and she seems utterly incapable of seeing that this time, with the economy crashing around our feet, things are different. “Bankruptcy Chapter 11,” she says, “is what GM should do,” giving all of the usual reasons; that they will come out of it a better company, reorganized to be more efficient and better managed without the slightest consideration of the merits of government support. And, no matter how many very smart people tell her that with credit impossible to get GM could not come out of Chapter 11 reorganization at all, that three million jobs lost would devastate the country, she never acknowledges that she hears at all. She simply keeps repeating her mantra. “This is the way markets are supposed to act,” she says, surprised that people are alarmed at a disastrous stock market crash. After all, a crash is a natural market phenomenon and the people, even innocent people not participating in the markets, who are devastated, should expect it. “Big government,” she says, complaining about efforts to regulate the markets. The truth is that free markets are created out of the imagination of humans and are, because of that, fallible to the extreme and cannot be self-regulated. We should look first for truth in these matters before accepting the dogma of purists.

Melissa is a pawn in their game, however. She is a Parrot, repeating the words of those she wishes to impress. She is not the bigger fish to be caught. She has simply learned the language of the free market dogma for her own self interest and security and she would be like a fish out of water in any other environment. In reality, nearly all hosts on CNBC are just like her, pawns who recite the mantra on a minute by minute schedule, marketing the ideology to their audience, you and me, ensuring that it soaks into our brain to wash it. The bigger fish publish the free market agenda. Let’s catch them instead.

The other anti-American forces are just as bad; they are the neo-conservatives and social conservatives. The neo-cons were the primary ideology behind President Bush’s preemption doctrine; attack before imagined harm is done whether it is warranted and just or not. This preemption idea was greatly feared by Hamilton, Madison and Jay who wrote the entirety of the Federalist Papers. They discussed “Just” wars, and what constituted a just war, and even if a war was just, they still shied away from war. Not one single participant in forming and selling the United States and its Constitution would have agreed with the Bush preemption doctrine. Their disagreement was confirmed in their unanimous confirmation of the Constitution; all of them signed it. The neo-con is anti-constitutional and anti-American. But, they use their own language to market their ideas; the spin on reasonable words on irrational thought, creating fear and anger toward imagined foes to convince millions of their agenda. James Madison said about factions, “The instability, injustice, and confusion introduced into the public councils, have, in truth, been the mortal diseases under which popular governments have everywhere perished.” Madison feared for the United States survival more from the destructive forces of factions inside than from an external foreign enemy.

The social conservative are more than likely Catholic and Christian fundamentalists. They too have an agenda to change The U. S. Constitution and America. While they claim that they are the ultimate patriot, their actions actually show that they are anti-American. They clearly attack the symptom and not the cause, creating injustice instead of promoting justice. For example, they clearly intend to outlaw abortion, which would make the mother a criminal. But, research paper after research paper shows that the primary cause of abortions is poverty; a destitute mother in a position where all doors are closed to her, in or near homelessness, and she gives in to the choice of her own survival over the frightening choice of keeping her child that would take her deeper into poverty. The secondary cause, ironically, is non-support by her family; she is pressured into abortion by the very people who should be supporting her. To make a woman a criminal when she should be brought into a supporting society is the worst injustice I can think of; like kicking someone when they are already down. It would be appropriate in the latter case to also criminalize the family who pressures her into abortion. The fact is that reversing the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court ruling would take away the woman’s right for self determination over her body, a basic freedom guaranteed by the U. S. Constitution. The ultra-right fundamentalists would change the Constitution in this regard.

The other cause fundamentalists are so adamant about is gay rights, specifically that gays should not have the right to marry. Whatever we feel about marriage, we should not discriminate against people. But, the latest efforts to outlaw gay marriage have been through a marketing campaign of lies and half-truths to make people fearful for their and their children’s well being. The result in California is that voters passed a resolution to change the “equal protection” clause in the California Constitution, a clause based on the U.S. Constitution. Equal protection against discrimination should be afforded everyone, without exception. If not, then a basic tenant of America is destroyed.

Typical of the neo-con and social conservative are Elizabeth Hasselback and Sherri Shepard of The View. Elizabeth is both neo-con and Christian fundamentalist and Sherri is a Christian Fundamentalist. Both are heavily brainwashed and both fail to realize it. Both take sides of opinion over law, favoring to change the law and The Constitution to support their opinion. They too are pawns and it is unfortunate that they’ve been given a platform to spread their particular brand of beliefs. Both would teach creationism in school. Elizabeth would continue the Iraq war in spite of all factual evidence that it is an unjust war. Elizabeth’s first response to poverty is for work programs instead of monetary support even when factual evidence indicates that the work programs are minimally successful; usually dictating when and where to work instead of giving the poor choices and opportunity with their own money. Any discussion on The View on issues they directly oppose more moderate expression is a Babel unintelligible cacophony of noise because of their unbending belief in dogma and irrational arguments.

In the cases above a majority has prevailed in America with factional beliefs that are dangerous to our country. So, are majorities always right? Should majorities always rule? No. It is vital that we re-introduce ourselves to our Constitution and the thoughts of our Founding Fathers and solve issues with moderation rather than extremes; otherwise America will perish. Our Constitution is written to strengthen defenses against a majority faction. We should pay attention.

James Madison’s own words from the 10th Federalist Paper are better than any I, or anyone I know, can say about factions:

“By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.

There are two methods of curing the mischiefs of faction: the one, by removing its causes; the other, by controlling its effects.

There are again two methods of removing the causes of faction: the one, by destroying the liberty which is essential to its existence; the other, by giving to every citizen the same opinions, the same passions, and the same interests.

It could never be more truly said than of the first remedy, that it was worse than the disease. Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires. But it could not be less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life, because it nourishes faction, than it would be to wish the annihilation of air, which is essential to animal life, because it imparts to fire its destructive agency.

The second expedient is as impracticable as the first would be unwise. As long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed. As long as the connection subsists between his reason and his self-love, his opinions and his passions will have a reciprocal influence on each other; and the former will be objects to which the latter will attach themselves. The diversity in the faculties of men, from which the rights of property originate, is not less an insuperable obstacle to a uniformity of interests. The protection of these faculties is the first object of government. From the protection of different and unequal faculties of acquiring property, the possession of different degrees and kinds of property immediately results; and from the influence of these on the sentiments and views of the respective proprietors, ensues a division of the society into different interests and parties.

The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man…

The inference to which we are brought is, that the CAUSES of faction cannot be removed, and that relief is only to be sought in the means of controlling its EFFECTS.”

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