I have taught the history of Western Civilization for many years. I praise God that I have taught at institutions that allowed me to teach this history without the disdain that is often heaped upon what some call Eurocentric culture. Personally I believe that Western Civilization which may have peaked before the beginning of our current Long War, brought humanity to the highest point so far attained.
Of course I am prejudiced. Of course my prejudice is informed and shaped by my heritage, my education, and my faith. Having made that disclaimer I still stand by my previous statement. Why? Because I believe that personal liberty, individual freedom and economic opportunity which have been the hallmarks of Western Civilization created the only framework in which man could become what man is meant to be. A child of God who freely chooses to be so and is able to develop his God given talents to their fullest extent.
For the vast majority of human history humanity has been in chains. They were crushed by oppressive governments and exploited by centrally-planned collectivist economies. They were trodden down by the rapacious descendants of barbaric conquerors who established plunder empires. They were uneducated, unarmed and unable to resist the power of the government.
Beginning with the Magna Charta and the evolution of English Common Law which flowered into the clearest expression of Enlightenment thinking in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States limited government was born. Suddenly it was the government in chains so that people could be free. Suddenly there was a new dawn and a fresh wind. Within the short span of 150 years 13 struggling colonies grew into the greatest, richest and most powerful nation the world had ever seen.
All fueled by the release of humanity from the chains of oppression.
Today this 239 year old experiment in personal liberty, individual freedom and economic opportunity is in jeopardy. This is not a new development. It is the culmination of a long series of events that stretch back to our nation’s founding. From the beginning the forces
of reaction have sought to re-forge the chains of oppression and regain their privileged positions with the whip hand driving humanity back into servitude.
This nation was founded upon and has stood upon the Constitution. It was the Constitution that limited government so that people could expand. It was the Constitution which set the limits for government and ensured the protection of the personal liberty, individual freedom and economic opportunity which the Declaration of Independence had proclaimed were the endowed upon humanity by God. Then came the Progressives and their concept of a living document that had made the Constitution a dead letter.
I have said in the past and I say again The Constitution Failed. People often ask me, how can you say the Constitution failed?
The short answer is:
If the Constitution was written to ensure a limited government and if today we have an unlimited central government my question is, “How can anyone contend that the Constitution hasn’t failed?”
The longer version explains that:
For the last 100 years the Progressives have sought progress by changing the Constitution, which was written to establish unbreakable boundaries for government, without recourse to the amendment process. The Framers knew that without these boundaries government would grow into a millstone around the neck of the American people. Instead of a document establishing solid limits the Progressives say it is a living document that can be re-interpreted with each passing year evolving into whatever the current leaders may desire.
Our twin headed Progressive party of power expands and twists the General Welfare, the Commerce, and the Supremacy clauses to sanction any executive, legislative, judicial, or regulatory action they wish to impose whether it’s a welfare state, energy policies, or the mandatory purchase of insurance. However, nothing is more symbolic of the current irrelevance of the Constitution to our leaders than the utter contempt they hold for the 9th and 10th Amendments.
Back during the original debate to ratify the Constitution these two sentinels of limited government were forced upon the proponents of a strong central government by those much maligned patriots the Anti-Federalists. The Constitution never would have been ratified without an assurance that the first order of business for the new government would be the ratification of the Bill of Rights. The capstone of these sacred rights is the 9th and the 10th Amendments which state:
The 9th Amendment, “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
The 10th Amendment, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
I present the following examples of how our Progressive central government infringes upon the rights of the States and the people:
While in almost every instance that voters have had an opportunity to voice their opinion they have overwhelmingly approved term limits, and the courts have just as consistently overturned the will of the people. Through ballot initiatives and Constitutional amendments to State Constitutions the people have spoken, but instead of the voice of the people we hear the commands of the elites.
The Supreme Court in a classic five-to-four decision in U.S. Term Limits v. Thornton (1995) said the states don’t have the authority to limit the terms of their own congressional delegations. They further ruled that unless the Constitution is amended neither the states nor Congress has the power to limit the number of terms members of Congress can serve. Dissenting Justice Clarence Thomas pointed out that the majority ignored the clear meaning of the Tenth Amendment. Since there is no explicit denial of the power to limit terms to the States in the Constitution the 10th Amendment clearly states this power is reserved to the States.
When the Governor and legislators of Arizona attempted to address the hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants who are pouring over their border with Mexico each year they first had to admit that the Federal Government was not enforcing their own laws. After the central government ignored their petitions and pleas for help for years the government of Arizona acted to protect their citizens.
Immediately, the Justice Department sued to block the law, contending it violates the U.S. Constitution. The Arizona law was subsequently struck down by the Federal Courts using the Supremacy Clause for their justification. Judge Richard Paez, said, “By imposing mandatory obligations on state and local officers, Arizona interferes with the federal government’s authority to implement its priorities and strategies in law enforcement, turning Arizona officers into state-directed [Homeland Security] agents.”
When it reached the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals a three judge panel said, “Congress has given the federal government sole authority to enforce immigration laws, and that Arizona’s law violates the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution” The Federal Government has abdicated its responsibility to protect Arizona from invasion and in their opinion a law that requires law enforcement officials to enforce the law goes too far.
The intrusive actions of the Transportation Security Administration
Legislators in Texas decided to take action to protect their citizens from what many considered to be overly aggressive pat-downs. The reaction of the TSA to Texas attempting to protect their citizens from the molestation the Federal Agency calls a pat-down is indicative of the attitude our central government has towards any infringement of their absolute power. On their website The TSA Blog the gatekeepers of the air said, “What’s our take on the Texas House of Representatives voting to ban the current TSA pat-down? Well, the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution (Article. VI. Clause 2) prevents states from regulating the federal government.” This says it all. As far as our Federal masters are concerned there is no limit to their power.
Obamacare: Mandating action and penalizing inaction:
The Federal Government is attempting to enforce the mandatory purchase provisions of Obamacare alternately as authorized by the Commerce Clause and as a tax, depending on which argument they think a judge will uphold. This massive invasion of personal liberty is currently being challenged by 28 States as being beyond the bounds of the Constitution. Two judges have ruled it unconstitutional and three ruled it constitutional.
The Supreme Court upheld the right of the Federal Government and so this provision wherein not taking an action is considered either engaging in commerce and thereby subject to regulation or if a non-action is taxable what is left of our precious freedom? What other non-actions will now be under the power of the government. If a government can control our non-actions what does that say about their power over our actions?
By ignoring the unambiguous meaning of the 9th and 10th Amendments and by stretching and twisting the meanings of a few vague clauses the Progressive leaders of our Federal government have interpreted our Constitution to mean anything needed to do anything desired. Once the words lose their meanings, once the sentences can mean anything the Progressives want, what power does the Constitution have to limit government?
Ultimately this is a message of hope because I trust in the ability of the American people to solve any problem they confront. However, we have to admit there is a problem before we can solve it, and if we refuse to admit there is a problem we have no chance of solving it. The problem is our limited government has become unlimited and does whatever it wants. How can I say, “The Constitution Failed”? What I am saying is our system is broken, it is no longer functioning as designed, and we need a re-set button.
I believe that the United States represented the Apex of Western Civilization, the vanguard and the protector of that civilization among the varied expressions of humanity. However, Western Civilization without personal liberty, individual freedom and economic opportunity will become another example of what today we call State Capitalism, a system that has gone by other names in the past when governments rule and people obey.
The West began committing suicide in the two act disaster we call World War One and World War Two. He have swallowed the poison of political correctness. We have allowed contraception and abortion to lead us to a declining population. We have allowed unregulated and uncontrolled immigration to submerge the West in a rising tide from the South made up of people who have neither experience nor appreciation of our civilization.
If we aren’t dead already we certainly qualify for a suicide watch as we stick our head in a demographic noose, deny our own values and allow a minority of central planners to plan our own funeral and send our grandchildren the bill.
Every day must eventually end and we may be witnessing the sun setting in the West.
Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion. He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2015 Contact Dr. Owens [email protected] Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens