Here is the latest reader question, along with my reply:
Bill asks: I believe you’ve established our U.S. Constitution as an immoral document without providing an argument. Then you’ve used this pretext to denigrate the authority of “the people” you don’t seem to believe exists. I would argue our U.S. Constitution personifies all moral within morality, but let me explain why. First, our entire Constitution is predicated upon one word, “Proper” (of the Necessary & Proper Clause/i.e. Elastic Clause) and is the fulcrum upon the ability of “the people” to rule their government. The problem is Proper has never been defined in over 230 years; worse still it has not only been ignored, it has ceased to exist having been absorbed by the word, “Necessary.” This is what has compromised our Constitution distorting it so that one can easily make the mistake our Constitution is 2) an immoral document, when in reality, this abandonment of its single most important word (which is in fact an abandonment of the entire document) is what has caused what you refer to as an “immoral” document. It is not that it is an immoral document, but because Proper has been abandoned it become “immoral.” The remedy is not to throw the baby out with the bathwater, but to assign a value to Proper, which in brief requires all agency law to pass “the people”‘s Congress. The problem today is the “Improper” centralization of almost all the powers of Congress, which are now held by Private, Independent and Public executive branch agencies of the federal government. I’ve recorded how the decentralization of these agencies can be accomplished at my website www.electfawell.com with my links to my “On Liberty” series (Part II: Domestic Policy). Please feel free to watch/share it. I will be following up with a Part II.V fully reviewing the history of the Necessary & Proper Clause. I’d certainly be interesting in hearing your response to my research. Thank you for your kind attention.
My reply: As writer, I pay attention to the meaning of words. What does “the people” mean, precisely? It is a rhetorical flourish that is meant as a synonym for “everyone.” Which is fine until you use this as the basis for legitimating coercion against the individual, which is what the Constitution does.
“The people” did not consent to the Constitution. Some people did. What gives those people the right to impose their wishes on others who do not consent?
Morally speaking, a person is only bound to abide by contracts he has given his free to consent to be bound by. This consent cannot be “implied” or somehow imputed via a proxy not specifically authorized by the individual to act on his behalf.
I do not see that laborious parsing is needed to get at the fundamental issue – which is whether we each have rights that cannot be abrogated by “processes” (such as elections and via some people who claim to “represent” us but who do not unless we have each given our specific and free consent) or conditional privileges which may be modified or rescinded at any time by these same “processes.”
So, to answer you question: No, “the people” do not have (moral) authority – or even practical authority. It is in fact a small group of people, who presume to act on behalf of the rest and claim a false legitimacy to do so based on the utter nonsense that “the people” – i.e., everyone) has – consented to this.
. . .
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I have never heard a good argument for why the Articles of Confederation wasn’t good enough. It’s always ripped on for being weak etc. That’s not an argument for it not being good enough. It was working as designed. It was supposed to be weak, the individual states being mostly independent. A confederation not a nation-state.
I think that is the reason why it had to go for the federalists. Since it was designed to prevent a central government from having much if any power the clovers among the founders (like hamilton) decided it had to go. Power is a drug for far too many people. It seems very hard to contain.
Imagine how the US would have developed without a huge central government. I am guessing it would have been far better. The economy would likely be far better and far more free, we would have gotten rid of slavery in a much more peaceful way (there would have been no civil war, and likely southern states wouldn’t have been forced to leave either). Guessing most of if not all of Canada would have been part as well.
If we are going to “restore” something, it should be the AoC.