December 3rd, 2012

From Crisis to Crisis – Our Deliberative Republic is the Casualty!


The November 2012 election is now in the rear view mirror.  If the election as a “mandate,” as some pundits claim – its nature is obscure.  The President received a narrow popular vote “mandate” (and a larger margin in the Electoral College) to stay on his course.  The Senate received a “mandate” to stay on its course – which could include extending inaction on a federal budget to a fifth consecutive year.  The House of Representative received a “mandate” to stay on its course – which could include continued focus on rejecting tax increases and dealing with budget deficits (i.e. some combination of spending cuts and increased revenues).

As factions continue to take the nation closer and closer to real and not-so-real crises, the deliberative constitutional process envisioned by the Founders has disappeared.  What Senators routinely claim to be the “most deliberative body in the world” – the US Senate – is reduced to cartoon caricature.  Secret meetings between a few elected and un-elected officials take place behind closed doors in the hope of reaching a “grand bargain” that will be converted to writing by other unelected officials, and then rubber-stamped by obedient members of parties before it is read.

Oh, the Drama!  Oh, the Valor!  And, if the “cliff” is avoided – heroism all around!

Our government has become a TV reality show – crisis after crisis manufactured by elected and unelected officials who have failed to first appreciate and then timely perform their duty in office.

How far we’ve fallen from the practices envisioned in the Constitution–-introduction of Bills in the House and/or the Senate, in sufficient time for hearings and debate, before passage by both houses and signature by the President.

Current posturing about revenues and expenses in Washington is foolish—a cynical effort by the conductors of a runaway train to divert attention from long-term economic reality.  Some “decision” will be reached; self-congratulation will take place; factions will argue about the degree of valor deserved among participants–while reality continues to develop outside of Washington.

The Second Bill of Rights takes direct aim at this “show”, offering mid-course corrections that require the House, the Senate, and the President to not only understand and deal with financial issues facing the national government, but to make financial issues transparent to the electorate at a time convenient for voters.   See, Second Bill of Rights, Amendment No. 5, Section 1, discussed in prior posts.

Americans (and their British predecessors) have seen this show for nearly 1,000 years.  The Constitution was written to stop it.  The Second Bill or Rights closes “loopholes” factions have found around it.

The plot goes like this:  There is an “emergency” that makes it necessary to skip the formalities of current government institutions (in our case, the regular order of bills, hearings, discussions, and voting in the Congress).  Because the issues are “complex,” AND it is an “emergency,” we need to skip the regular process of obtaining informed consent of established institutions (in our case, the complexity arises from other self-created complexities – e.g., the tax code, the estate tax, the gift tax, social security, Medicare, Medicaid).  Because of this complex emergency—we must delegate the solution to a handful of people to work it out behind closed doors.  And, the entire nation must accept in full what a handful of people “work out.”  Naysayers must accept blame for the cataclysms to follow.

The claim of complex emergency has always been an excuse for government to sidestep timely deliberation under constitutional government—from King John through Charles I and Cromwell; from James II and royal prerogative to the Stamp Tax, the Townshend Acts, the Declaration of Independence, and the US Constitution; from the Alien and Sedition Acts of World War I to the internment of Japanese during WWII; from the Gulf of Tonkin resolution to subsequent resolutions authorizing military actions short of war.

As Valerius notes in essay Number 49 (discussed in previous posts), Hayek understood the flaw of central planning, a flaw admitted by leading advocates of collectivism.  See, Numbers 22 and 25.  Ever bigger promises by a growing government are self-defeating for any republic.  The pattern Hayek saw in the 1940’s predominates in twenty-first century America.  Ever bigger crises in fiscal matters produce ever bigger central plans and new promises to “get it right” in the next comprehensive central plan.

The central flaw Hayek saw is this:  when central planning fails, the casualty is an increasingly cynical citizenry, ever more suspicious of government institutions.  But, in the American republic, it is the individuals advocating central planning that have failed, not the institutions established in the Constitution by the Founders.

Deliberative government is a distinguishing hallmark of the American Republic.  Those who overuse the claim of “complex emergency” are not the long-term allies of our Republic’s institutions.

The road to preserve the greatest deliberative republic ever imagined in the history of mankind is going to be long.  But every journey begins with a first step.  We hope you will join with us in considering our proposals to right the constitutional ship — a first step that we intend to pursue over the long term.

To help us rekindle individual freedom and liberty in the United States, click on the Book link above or go directly to Amazon:

With malice toward none, and charity for all!


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