Friday, January 29, 2016

Cruz, Trump, and the Constitution

With the Iowa Caucus just around the bend, the two Republican frontrunners, Senator Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, are engaged in an increasingly intense struggle for conservative votes. In spite of the wishes of Republican Party leaders, the race currently seems to have narrowed to two so-called "outsiders," each a man who could radically change the face of the GOP. This is hardly surprising, as the Republican-led Congress has accomplished remarkably little since the party's stunning midterm victory in November 2014; instead, younger firebrand statesmen (Cruz in the lead) found themselves opposed by older, more establishment-minded politicians, leading to showdowns within the party itself such as that between Ted Cruz and Mitch McConnell on the floor of the Senate last summer. But if the Republican Party is to experience change with either Cruz or Trump at the helm, which man would lead the party down the right path?

Unlike constitutional monarchy, upon which our own governmental system was originally based, the stability of our republic does not rest in the surety of a hereditary head of state or an inherited aristocracy. Instead, stability relies solely upon a single document -- the Constitution, with its stipulations on federal authority and its amendments ensuring individual rights and liberties. But to achieve order and stability, that document must be held in utmost respect, and all political leaders must be held accountable to its dictates. To allow any part of the government to ignore, override, or circumvent the Constitution is to invite chaos and, inevitably, tyranny. Thus, in my mind, disregard for the Constitution is the worst crime committed by the Obama administration -- time and again, he has exceeded his constitutional powers as president in order to force through his own agenda when Congress and/or the states refuse to support him. Of course, Obama's agenda itself is typically diametrically opposed to my own political, socio-economic, and moral beliefs, but even were he trying to put into law everything that my heart could desire, I would view it as worthless if it came at the expense of constitutionality. No matter who it may be, the next president must return to strict observance of constitutional law for the survival of the republican system so carefully designed over two hundred years ago.

Where does that leave us with Cruz and Trump? Despite his outrageous public statements (which, admittedly, have worked remarkably well in garnering support), Donald Trump's presidential campaign website (https://www.donaldjtrump.com/) puts forward some very reasonable ideas, such as tax reform, incentives for businesses to once again operate and produce in the United States, and maintain strictly controlled borders. So why do I not support such a platform? It is Donald Trump as a man and as a potential president that I do not trust. His bombastic rhetoric, outrageous though it may seem, belies a man very unused to not getting his own way. Most of his goals are not achievable by executive power alone but would require due process in Congress; what will happen if his plans are stalled by the checks and balances of our republican system? Either he will leave the majority of his promises unfulfilled (like so many politicians before) or he will try to force through his agenda regardless (an approach that perhaps fits Trump's personality more accurately), which would make him no better than Barack Obama. As I stated before, even political goals that I deem to be absolutely necessary are not worth the cost if the cost involves running roughshod over the Constitution. Despite a few statements scattered throughout the Trump campaign site proclaiming the importance of constitutionalism, I am not at all convinced that Donald Trump would prove to be a responsible leader whose aim is to lead the United States into an era of limited federal government and strict adherence to the Constitution.

Ted Cruz, on the other hand, lists "Restore the Constitution" as his platform's top priority (https://www.tedcruz.org/), and his professional record amply bears this out. For just a few examples, as solicitor general of Texas, Cruz took a leading role in the following cases: defending the right to keep and bear arms (District of Columbia v. Heller <https://www.tedcruz.org/wp-content/uploads/pdf/Heller_Amicus_Brief.pdf>), defending the right of a monument bearing the Ten Commandments to remain on the grounds of the Texas State Capitol (Van Orden v. Perry <https://www.tedcruz.org/wp-content/uploads/pdf/VanOrdenRespondentsBrief.pdf>), and defending the right to keep "one state under God" in Texas schools' pledge of allegiance (Croft v. Perry <https://www.tedcruz.org/wp-content/uploads/pdf/TexasPledge.pdf>). On the floor of the Senate, Cruz has continued to consistently uphold and defend constitutionality, calling for the complete repealing of the Affordable Care Act, protecting both the First and Second Amendment from Democratic schemes (http://www.wsj.com/articles/ted-cruz-the-democratic-assault-on-the-first-amendment-1401662112?cb=logged0.2902502946089953), and standing against the Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate.

To quote Cruz's campaign site itself:
Our nation’s founding document and the supreme law of the land was crafted by our founding fathers to act as chains to bind the mischief of government and to protect the liberties endowed to us by our Creator. Unfortunately, recent administrations have defied the Constitution and the rule of law, and as a result we are less free. We need to restore the Constitution as our standard. We need to protect the people by rolling back the federal government to the functions the Constitution sets out. We need to give power back to the states and the people so that we remain a land where liberty can flourish (https://www.tedcruz.org/issues/restore-the-constitution/).
This is why I support Senator Ted Cruz in his bid to become the next president of the United States. Not only is he a man experienced in law and in defending our Constitution; he is a man of integrity who will lead the nation honestly and constitutionally. After eight long years under the Obama administration, we urgently need such a man to restore the nation to the balanced, limited form of government that we possess in the United States Constitution.

Whoever you may be supporting in this primary season, Republican or Democrat, think carefully about this issue of constitutionality before putting in your ballot; how our next president acts, not simply the goals of his or her current platform, will dictate the direction of the nation. To vote apart from this issue is to close your eyes to that which is most crucial and to invite the federal government to utterly dispose of the constitutional safeguards and limitations that protect us -- a dangerous, positively disastrous result, indeed.

6 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I would enjoy hearing from you about Marco Rubio's view and track record on constitutionality. It is far too early to say with certainty that it's a two man race. Rubio could factor into this yet and so it would be good to hear your perspective on him and the issue you bring up.

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    1. Thank you for reading and responding, David! You're absolutely right -- anything could still happen in the next month or two. Though I do like much of what Marco Rubio has to say, my firm choice is still Ted Cruz, a discussion that I really think I shall turn into a post in the near future. Thanks for the idea!

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  2. JM--BRAVO! I thrilled to see you taking this bold step on the front lines of this battle for the hearts, minds, and critical reasoning of American citizens--stewards of leadership in our nation who have slowly allowed the erosion of our Constitution through ignorance, misunderstanding, misapplication, anarchy, usurpation, and corruption. The Slippery Slope is steeper than ever and your generation must draw swords of sense--uncommon sense, these days--and take the Christian worldview that shaped our Founders and nation to the peak of the mountain. Our nation's story has a part to play in God's greater scheme of things, but I pray He allows the pendulum to swing on behalf of virtue and verity once more. You're gifted with words and documentation and boldness in the fray. I look forward to more of your (Un)common Sense!
    Joy!
    Kathy

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    1. Thank you, Kathy; I knew I could count on your encouragement with this blog! :)

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  3. Still find the extent of americans' loyalty to the constitution fascinating, even to the extent of letting good laws go unmade if they were to contradict it (as you write above). Where then do you stand on ammendments to the constitution? If issues such as gun control and public healthcare were dealt with through the correct, constitutional channels then would change be acceptable? Excuse my ignorance if that's what it is, but until 1920's 19th ammendment extending the vote to women would it not have been entirely reasonable to say 'it's not in the document, the fathers knew what they were doing'? This is not at all to be facetious, genuinely interested and I know you'll be rubbing your hands at the chance to educate an ill-informed liberal ;-)

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    1. Thanks for reading and replying to this post, Jono. It really is simple common sense for us constitutionalists; even if a law is "good", if it is forced through by overriding constitutional limitations, then the floodgates open for any sort of legislation, good or bad, to be passed in spite of constitutional dictate. Without constitutional law, there is anarchy, which inevitably leads to tyranny.

      In reference to your other points, though I may not be happy with something like universal healthcare, I would have to resign myself to it were it instituted legally through the constitutional process of ratifying an amendment; people could also, of course, try to work to have such an amendment legally repealed, as was done to Amendment XVIII, prohibiting the sale of alcohol (repealed by Amendment XXI fourteen years later). Many people in the 1920s did, indeed, oppose women's right to vote, but with the legal passing of an amendment, they had nothing left to argue unless they wanted to attempt to have it repealed.

      The Founding Fathers knew that changing times would occasionally necessitate changes to the Constitution, which is why Article V allows for amendments to be made. However, they also knew that it would be very dangerous to make change easy, as that would make the Constitution a mere weak, impotent plaything for whatever faction happened to be in power at any given time rather than a secure governmental basis that transcends the whims and fads of each fickle generation. For instance, according to Article V, an amendment can only be proposed "whenever two thirds of both houses [of Congress] shall deem it necessary...or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, [Congress] shall call a convention for proposing amendments." To be ratified, an amendment must be approved by three-fourths of state legislatures or conventions. Thus, it is highly unlikely that the government's intrusion into the realm of healthcare would have been approved in this manner, as a large portion of the current population clearly stands against it.

      Is this process slow-moving? Indeed -- yet that is precisely what the original authors of the Constitution intended. No change to the basis of our nation's government should be taken lightly or quickly, without due process and deliberation.

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