“For the first time in recent memory, affordable housing is a topic on the presidential campaign trail,” said Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
If you’ve watched any political debates, you’ve likely noticed that the candidates are very quick to promise better housing, better pay, better living standards, better healthcare, more equality, less racism, more unity, better immigration, no more homophobia, more Christianity, so on and so forth. As the quote above exemplifies, affordable “housekeeping” is now on the list of topics that federal candidates now present to the American public.
These are all very controversial topics, topics that stir up emotion and irrational debate. But, notice the one topic missing?
Friends, the Constitution silences all the partisan and emotional bickering. In fact, arguing over how the federal government is going to solve racism or provide better housing is like fighting over how well a beekeeper can swim. We’re arguing about topics that are not within our government’s job description in the first place, meaning the fighting and emotions are pointless. Arguing about the best way for government to provide good housing ignores the fact that government is not allowed, per the Constitution, to provide good housing.
I’m here to help you preach unity to Americans by shifting the attention away from the emotional subject to the only subject that matters: The Constitution. I’m here to help you arm yourself with the simple yet essential fundamentals of our government so that you can hear the rubbish that comes out of the mouths of so many politicians, ground it in practical reality and THEN enlighten your friends.
Here are five points to help you apply what you’ve learned while reading The Liberty Belle. There’s a lot here friends, so buckle up, grab your coffee and get ready for a long read. Realize that if we all collectively making these five suggestions part of our daily lives, we could change America.
One: Use What You’ve Learned
I’ve written a variety of articles by now, explaining and exploring the Constitution, Supreme Court cases, the “why” of our government, the point of the Constitution, and the theoretical justifications for these different aspects of government. I’ll continue to provide this information for you but I’m taking today to write a slightly different kind of post.
This is an action post. I want to talk about how you can use all this information in your daily life. Referencing some of these basic foundations while talking to friends, family and acquaintances will do wonders for them and open their eyes to things they probably never knew or thought about before. And the beauty of these fundamentals is that they are not based in opinion. No, they’re simply foundational facts about how our government is designed, what our Constitution says and the theories behind both.
I’ve found that when people come into contact with simple foundational truths, their own arguments and opinions fall flat. So, I hope you enjoy this little guide and I hope that it helps equip you to start changing the world with the simple weapon of fundamentals.
So, here’s a good example for you: you begin interacting with someone who believes that government should be doing more to help the poor. You could argue the merit of that argument. You could give examples of the failures of past governments who tried to help the poor. You could use history, socialism and the like to ground your claim. The problem is, you’re still arguing on the assumption that it’s within government’s power to help the poor. In other words, always always look at the assumption being made. Is the assumption true? If not, then arguing with someone based on an untrue assumption will only lead you in circles and falsely confirm for the other person that their assumption is indeed, true.
Instead, take a step back and ask them if they know what the word “arbitrary” means. Assuming most people won’t know how to articulate what that word means, you can then explain to them that arbitrary means unconfined, limitless power. Explain to them that most every government throughout history has been arbitrary. So, a King can say “off with your head” simply because he wants to and no one can say otherwise. They’ll get that and most people will say they don’t want to experience that kind of government (who does?).
Good. Now you both agree on something. (Unity?) Neither of you want to live under the power of an arbitrary government.
Next, ask them what they would do if they were pulled over by a police officer who started frisking them without a cause; or better yet, what would they do if the police barged in their house without a warrant. Most likely, they’ll say that they’d argue their Constitutional rights are being violated.
Good. Now ask them what they would do in that same circumstance if there was no Constitution.
This should hit them hard. They’ll realize for the first time just how valuable the Constitution is. This is the ideal time to explain to them that the Constitution is our government’s job description–that it keeps our government from being an arbitrary government because it defines for government exactly what is can do, thereby confining government power. In other words, government is not the final court of review, the Constitution is. The Constitution protects them from government. The government derives all of its power from the Constitution.
Now, let this sink in for them. It may take a moment and they may need to ask questions. This is the critical point in the conversation where you’re going to turn personal. Ask them what happens when government violates the Constitution. Explain to them that if we let the government violate the Constitution once we’re saying that the government has arbitrary power, meaning, there’s nothing confining government power and government can really do whatever it wants. If government does something outside of its Constitutionally mandated powers, then where does it get the power to do such a thing? It gets the power to do so from nothing, which means that nothing is then confining government power. Make sure they really grasp the gravity of this.
Then turn back to the subject at hand. Explain that, while you understand their concern for people, it really doesn’t matter what their feelings on the subject of government handouts to the poor are because the Constitution has not given the federal government any power to write laws about government handouts to the poor. Do they want to ask government to use arbitrary power? Do they see the long term consequences and potential for abuse in doing so?
If they want to know where you get this Constitutional information from, turn their attention to Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution and say, if any government should help the poor, it should be the state governments. The conversation about helping the poor can be had, but in the appropriate realm of power, the state, local, county and community. The federal government is not given the power to do so and asking them to do so is asking them to have limitless and unconfined power. Explain that you don’t want that and you don’t think they want that.
Notice, the conversation is no longer about whether or not government should help help the poor, but whether or not they want to have an arbitrary unconfined government.
So, guess what you’ve just done? You’ve avoided a partisan, emotional debate AND helped educate a fellow citizen about something they’ve likely never known before. You’ve stopped yourself from getting emotional and showed them that all that matters to you is not your own feelings but the Constitution. This type of behavior demands respect. This type of interaction could change the world.
Two: Be Willing to Criticize ANYONE
Here’s the thing, both Republicans and Democrats are guilty of feeding us promises that they have no Constitutional right or ability to follow through on. Don’t be afraid to call out either party for violating the Constitution. Your allegiance is first with the Constitution, until or unless it is lawfully amended or changed. This should be the mindset of all Americans. It doesn’t matter what party or ideology someone holds, if they violate the Constitution, they must be held accountable.
I share this with you because, if people are going to take you seriously, you really need to be consistent with your critiques and arguments. You have no allegiance to a political party, but to the Constitution. The people you interact with need to see this or they’ll call you out for your hypocrisy.
Three: You Either Stand For the Constitution or Arbitrary Law
Here’s the thing. And this is true for all Americans. If you don’t stand for the Constitution, you stand for arbitrary law. It’s as simple as that. There is no grey area. There either is a limit to federal government power, or there is not. It can’t go both ways. Law cannot sort of be arbitrary or partially Constitutional.
As American citizens, we can’t demand for government to write law that is unconstitutional and expect for our government to also follow the Constitution. One step outside of the Constitution and there is no limit to federal power anymore, so the government may as well go all out.
Make sure you are fully established in this simple reality so that when you challenge others with it, you do not falter.
Four: Dispel Flawed Assumptions
I already mentioned this and now I’ll delve deeper because it’s key. Exposing and removing fallacious assumptions is perhaps your greatest weapon, otherwise you are left wallowing in the muck of opinion and emotion. I’ll help you understand what I mean by stepping through my own response to something Bernie Sanders said during a democratic debate.
At one point, Sanders said:
“So maybe it is finally time that we said as a nation, enough is enough, the function of a rational health care system is not to make the pharmaceutical industry and the drug companies rich. It is to provide health care to all people as a human right, not a privilege.”
My first response is this: I have so many problems with this statement. But I have to back up. My feelings and emotions are not the point. Who cares what problems I have with this statement, let’s analyze the statement through the lens of the fundamentals I have laid out for you—-the theoretical and Constitutional fundamentals.
Every statement, by any politician, is based upon a prior held belief about something else—about how the world works. It is an assumption about reality. So, before we ever get to whether or not congressional healthcare law is Constitutional, we need step back and consider the first assumption in his statement. Bernie is basing his statement upon the assumption that, were he president, he would have the power to change the healthcare system.
So, given that changing the healthcare industry would have to be done through making laws, is lawmaking the president’s (the executive branch’s) job?
Remember, executive means “to execute”. This means that the only job the executive has is to execute the already existing laws made by Congress. There’s nothing radical about this. Liberals and conservatives, democrats and republicans, independents, libertarians and the like should all be able to acknowledge and concede this point. Seriously, what can one say to contradict the point that “execute” doesn’t mean “to execute”?
This means that Bernie’s campaign promise is something he, very practically and legitimately, has no control over. No matter what he or anyone else feels or thinks about this issue, he cannot make law to change or fix the healthcare industry. He can try to manipulate, coerce and influence Congress to make laws that might “fix the healthcare industry” but Bernie cannot constitutionally make law. Lawmaking is not the reason for the executive’s existence, law executing is. Always was, is now, and always will be—-under the current Constitution.
Consider this then: Bernie’s entire argument is based on a fallacious assumption and predicated upon the insulting, yet true, belief that his followers and all Americans are ignorant of the truth. (My students are usually stupefied and frustrated upon realizing how blatantly they’ve been lied to by presidential candidates. It dawns on them that Americans put SO much emphasize on a position that has little Constitutional power).
So, on this point alone, Bernie’s argument is invalid. One’s opinion on healthcare and government hasn’t even entered the picture.
But, let’s take it a step further.
Is it Constitutional for the law-making branch of our government to make the type of laws Bernie’s promoting?
I think you know the answer.
The Constitution, created with the full intention of limiting federal power, gives a comprehensive list of all the duties of Congress. It’s Congress’s job, then, to make laws that are necessary and proper for carrying out those specific powers listed in the Constitution. These powers are few. To remind you, it includes powers such as declaring war, issuing patents, regulating commerce between states and among nations, setting up the postal service, establishing and funding the military and the like. These are broad, overarching powers that are better for the federal government to handle than the state. Everything else—that’s up to the states.
So, even if we acknowledge that Bernie cannot himself make law regulating the healthcare industry, and then allow that maybe he’s just wanting Congress to do so, his argument is still invalid.
Which means that no opinion, justification or emotional rationalization about the virtues of healthcare regulation and the vices of the current healthcare system really matter. If we agree with Bernie, we agree with arbitrary law. We either follow the Constitution or we don’t. It really is that straight forward.
Think about it. What would Bernie say if someone asked him this question:
“So, what do you say, sir, about the fact that all of the laws and regulations you are promoting are fundamentally unconstitutional? Or how do you respond to the fact that you don’t have the lawful right to pass law and therefore cannot make any of these changes yourself?”
What would he say? He’d either have to own up to his blatant violation of the Constitution or backtrack on his manipulative propaganda. We all know the truth of the matter is that all of these candidates, and many in the Republican party as well, do not care what the Constitution says.
People, the policy playing field today isn’t even in the realm of Constitutional congressional power. Affordable housing for all? Where on earth did the federal government get the power to provide that for us? If it’s not from the Constitution—which it isn’t—then it comes from nowhere. If it comes from nowhere, then nothing confines it. This means that there is no limit to government’s reach then. Their power is arbitrary.
We’ve come a long way from the initial reason for government’s existence—which was to merely protect our private property. Arbitrary law is what happens when we allow even one step outside of the Constitution. It’s been a slow burn. At first it was just the federal government taking the right to tax our personal income a bit more and now the people are expecting the government to provide everything from housing to healthcare.
The last point is this: say it was the federal government’s right to fix healthcare. Where do we expect the money to fix healthcare to come from? The government? The citizenry is so painfully ignorant that they fail to realize the reality that government is funded and paid by us. So, the more we demand of government, the more we have to pay. We tend to assume that the government somehow gets money from sources outside of the U.S. citizenry. A plainly false assumption.
But, even in writing this final point, I have to acknowledge that this really is an irrelevant point because it’s based upon the fallacious assumption that federal initiatives, such as fixing healthcare, are Constitutional. And they are not Constitutional, so there is nothing to debate about.
Five: Force People to Own Up to Their True Beliefs
This is where I encourage, you, my readers, to really stay. When you’re interacting with people, don’t stoop to their arguments. They’ll come at you with all kinds of emotional tirades about how people are poor, how people need healthcare and housing, how people shouldn’t have guns, along with a litany of other demands on government. Always remember, your opinion on healthcare and government and their opinion on healthcare and government, really don’t matter. (Believe me, if people realize that you don’t even give your own opinions much credit because of your respect for the Constitution, they’ll have to take you seriously.)
Why don’t opinions matter? Because no matter what our opinions are, the Constitution is the SUPREME law and the law is not based upon opinion or how we feel about it. It is the law. If law was based upon opinions or feelings, it wouldn’t be law and would have no power. So, the Constitution is not a debatable subject, it’s law. If it’s debatable and fluid, then so is government power — which means government power is arbitrary and there’s no limit to it.
When conversing with other Americans then, I encourage you to simply stop any person who is word vomiting all of their feelings and thoughts about some issue and simply point out the basic reality that they’re arguing for the government to violate the Constitution. They need to understand that unless they want to lawfully amend or change the Constitution to allow for such federal power, there really is nothing to debate or discuss. Step through the process I gave you above.
It really simplifies life and politics when you approach them from this foundational and fundamental position. You’ll find that most arguments are rather pointless because they’re all based on flawed assumptions. It’s your job to point out the flawed assumptions (e.g. the president makes law; Congress has the Constitutional power to do x,y or z) and let the person flounder as they try to reconcile their opinion with the hard fundamentals they’ve just been shown.
If they say, “Well, I support poor people. I think the government should do something to provide free healthcare for people”. You can politely and kindly say, “Oh, so you support arbitrary law?” Let them reckon with this and stumble over your implications. They’ll be confused, they’ll feel offended. Remember, their empathy is not the problem, their solution is. Arbitrary law is far more dangerous and harmful than the problems they’re concerned about. This is where you can step in and help them. Educate them. Why would it be arbitrary? Why is what they’re arguing for not Constitutional? Why should they fear arbitrary power? They likely don’t know what the Constitution says on the matter or that managing healthcare is the states’ job. Let them deal with hard facts.
Once they know the truth, it’s up to them to reconcile their opinion and concern about the poor with the reality that demanding the federal government fix their perceived problems is demanding for arbitrary and unconstitutional law. They have to own up to the implications of supporting arbitrary law if they want to continue believing in it. Make them own up to it. At least now it’s out in the open.
But, who knows, you may actually open their eyes to something and cause them to seriously reassess their opinions. Ultimately, it’s now in their court to decide if they support arbitrary law or if they support the Constitution.
Grabbing hold of these fundamentals is key for us as we work to re-establish the Constitution as the basis for our opinions and arguments. We don’t need to demand for people to respect us or our opinions. No, we first establish that we respect the Constitution and then ask that others respect the Constitution as well—-if not, then we ask that they own up to their willful—eyes open—violation of it and the consequences that such a violation reaps.
Constitutional foundations are of upmost importance. Let’s focus on those and work to help others to focus on them as well. As we do so, we’ll begin to see who truly supports and respects the Constitution and who does not.
In the end, it’s far better for those who support arbitrary law/violating the Constitution to be out in the open for all to see, then for them to be cloaked in the manipulative guise of support for the Constitution while they violate it.
But, just imagine how many people really will change and how that individual by individual change could save liberty.
The Liberty Belle
5 thoughts on “Do Constitutional Foundations Dictate Your Arguments?”
Great article, shared. Wish more people looked at facts and not emotions. I ask people, well what would you personally do to help a situation. Most don’t have any idea. Or they want someone else to take care of the “problem”. Wish more people took the time to investigate the constitution.
Thank you Elizabeth! It’s really critical we stop validating invalid assumptions by entering into the emotional debates about them. I appreciate you sharing!
You have laid out with precision over the past few months a case that tells how the Constitution transcends any loyalty to political parties just as a lawyer would do. Today, on Flag Day you appropriately wrapped it all into a final argument that describes how any nostalgic illusions of going back to the past or vapors at attempting to develop a future utopia is not a viable vision or agenda to lead. The only “Us vs Them” the Constitution is concerned about is protecting the people from excessive government.
Well Done ! …………..but we have read your excellent writing for so long we come to expect no less.
Thank you Bob! That means a lot. I don’t know that this will be one of my most popular posts as I find that people tend to like divisiveness, but I do hope that some people take it and run with it. You said it beautifully, the only “us vs them” that matters is the Constitution protecting us from an arbitrary, unconfined government.
I don’t know about divisiveness being popular in regard to your column. Your readers seem to appreciate getting the facts you provide about our Constitution and pay you compliments after every piece you write.(see Elizabeth above) If your readers are as much “Originalist” of the Constitution that they assert they are then there should be no problem. There is no different interpretation, the Constitution is exactly what is written……..there is no “Living Constitution” that changes the meaning.
Take care and Keep up the good work……………………………………..”B”