Yesterday I stumbled across a rather insightful editorial by Bart Hinkle at the Richmond Times. He demonstrated such clear thinking that I wrote the author a letter, presented here with minor corrections for spelling, punctuation, and grammar:
I found your recent article to be very insightful. It is a fascinating look at what ails America today. It boils down to dereliction of duty to “support and defend the Constitution” at ALL levels of government.
I concur with you that Congress has failed to do its duty to “support and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic,” almost certainly because the loyalty of many Congressman to their party or various idealistic excursions has increasingly eclipsed their loyalty to the proven reality of the Constitution. Sadly, we see the same thing in the Supreme Court, which should never be the case. With respect to the points you made in your article, I believe additional factors have come into play, including the increasing fear of being labeled politically incorrect, and the corresponding unwillingness to take necessary and more permanent actions against elected officials who refuse to abide by “the supreme Law of the Land.”
Shortly after retiring from my career as an Air Force officer, I began working to educate people on the dangers facing our nation, particularly from the erosion of the absolute moral base our Founding Fathers cautioned was essential to the long-term health of our nation. With such a moral base, even an imperfect Constitution and its resulting society would survive, as leaders would retain the same principles, precepts, and moral values held by the framers. The resolution of unanticipated issues would naturally incline towards the time-tested precepts which have served our nation so well for so long. Without such a moral base, even a perfect Constitution would eventually fail. A nation lacking proper morals would be increasingly opposed to Constitutional principles and values, until its leaders began ignoring increasingly larger portions of the Constitution, eventually leaving it behind altogether.
Our Founding Fathers did a miraculous job crafting our Constitution. It is extremely difficult, however, if not impossible, to create a legal foundation capable of fighting the erosion of society when that society’s elected and appointed leaders, either out of ignorance or willful malice, fail to follow the written legal foundation.
In light of this perspective, I submit to you three additional avenues of failure, along with some proposals for amendments that might be able to stem the flow of our nation’s life-blood, even restore proper function in the presence of decreasing loyalty to the Constitution:
Failure 1: Education of the people: Sadly, too many Americans are voting for government officials at all levels not because of what a candidate can do for their country, but because of what a candidate can do for them. This self-seeking behavior and failure to delay gratification ultimately results in poorer results. Candidates are rarely able to deliver on their campaign promises. When a person believes rhetoric promising him or her a better life, and votes for that candidate, they wind up doing little to work hard and secure that life for themselves. Instead, they wait around for the candidate to make their lives better. When that fails, they become embittered at the “other guy” their candidate blames as the problem, or they become embittered with the system itself.
The Department of Education and liberal school systems has been largely complicit in this area of demise by lowering and even eliminating the bar in vital areas like civics and history while cluttering the educational landscape with requirements that eclipse a child’s opportunity to obtain a full, well-rounded education suitable for understanding how human society really works. This is really the root problem of what’s going on in America. If the people stopped electing those who are undermining our Republic, the problem would largely disappear. Our Republic would be preserved. Sadly, many people are no longer capable of correctly assessing the worth of a candidate, or envisioning the long-term effects of electing a candidate.
Possible solutions: Eliminate the Department of Education and use those funds at the state level to provide for a more graduated pay scale for teachers instead of the current rise and cap pay curves; raise standards required of teachers; ensure those standards reflect the requirements addressed as outlined above.
Failure 2: Personification of the corporate: No serious student of the Constitution would ever conclude that our Founding Fathers meant to give business the same access to our government as We the People, much less a 1000% greater influence over Congressional decision-making. The fallout from this decision has lead to increasingly darker decisions being made by Congress, ones that treat citizens as cattle to be mined for their ability to be skimmed for a fat, corporate/federal profit, instead of the rightful rulers of our once-great nation.
Possible solution: Check Citizens United with an amendment that declares corporate anthropomorphization to be verboten. Ensure it reaffirms the Constitution’s focus on We the People under sovereign States as the rightful owners of our own country.
Failure 3: Senators and Representatives are too similar. This arose as a result of the 17th Amendment. Article I, Section 3, which used to read: “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof…” The Amendment now reads: “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof…” While I understand this was an attempt to solve problems involving legislative corruption and deadlocks, I do not agree it was the best solution. For all intents and purposes, what we now have are a House and a Senate that look very similar. Even dividing Congress into two houses makes little sense when the people elect one Representative from their district and two more to represent the State as a whole. Why not instead simply elect “general Congressmen,” and scrap the two-house system?
Possible solution: Repeal the 17th Amendment. The original issue is that “There was a sense that senatorial elections were ‘bought and sold’, changing hands for favors and sums of money rather than because of the competence of the candidate.” That sounds the same as it is today, so what problem was actually solved? If none, then that’s strike one against the 17th Amendment. As far as electoral deadlocks, the solution is simple: Require states to provide for a tiebreaker, much as we have for the Supreme Court and the Senate. An example might be, “In case of tie, the Assistant Governor will cast the tie-breaking vote.” They could also flip a coin, roll die, or spin a wheel. States could choose whatever method they want, so long as it’s expedient. To help deter delays in breaking such ties, simply stipulate that if the states fail to provide two Senators, those positions will simply remain unfilled and the State will be underrepresented in Congress, something no State wants to face. Our Constitution set the precedence for that by requiring percentage votes of “members present” for many things, including very important things, such as treaties and impeachment.
Bart, I thoroughly enjoyed your article and have bookmarked you in the hopes of reading many more to come!
Here is Bart’s response:
Thank you for the note. You raise some very interesting points.
All the best,
It was my pleasure.
I’ve had some interesting conversations with my oldest cousin, lately. He’s struggling with the fact that his idealism keeps running smack into the wall of reality. Here’s my latest response to him:
Reality only knows one truth, hence my watch phrase: Truth is.
Idealism involves picking a position, cherry-picking facts which tend to support it, then doggedly defending it against reality.
Reality involves examining all the facts in order to determine the most appropriate position on which to stand in the first place.
I learned to distinguish the two during my flying career in the Air Force. Neither the enemy, nor weather, nor forces of physics, nor the realities of terrain cared about where you thought you were or what you thought you were doing. Cold, hard reality alone determined your fate. In aviation, you’re either on the same page as reality or you stand a decent chance of meeting your maker. I can give you the names of five friends who forgot that and learned the last lesson of their lives the hard way.
There’s a lot more room for error in politics, but in the end, history has always proven that reality triumphs over idealism. Rich countries like ancient Rome and modern USA can afford to go down the road of idealism longer than others, but in the end, reality always triumphs, just as certain as the fact that airplanes cannot fly through cumulus granite. As we’ve seen from recent events during this last week of March, 2015, flying through terrain doesn’t work any better in France than it did for my friends in North Carolina, Puerto Rico, or Washington State.
Reality won. Their idealism did not.
How do we ensure we remain firmly ensconced in the grip of reality, instead of swept away by the fallacies of idealism?
It’s quite simple, really, and begins with an understanding of why retired U.S. Naval Officer and Hugo Award king Robert A. Heinlein once said, “Staying young requires the unceasing cultivation of the ability to unlearn old falsehoods.”
1. Never allow idealism to determine the position upon which you should stand. “Just the facts, Ma’am.” In fact, most of the discussion between our Founding Fathers in the years and months leading up to the birth of our Constitution in 1787 involved separating idealism from reality, the chaff from the wheat. The idealists wanted to instill a democracy, but the realists remember the lessons of history, specifically Rome, which began as a republic, allowed itself to devolve into a democracy, at which point it quickly crumbled into anarchy.
Thankfully, the realists won, which is why we have a Republican form of government, not a democracy (Article IV, Section 4, U.S. Constitution).
2. Never leap to conclusions. Instead, gather all the facts you can find. This is the way scientists do it. They never come out and say, “I have a theory…” Instead, if they make an apparently new observation, they examine the facts. If they don’t have enough facts, they gather more. Only when a preponderance of evidence seems to indicate that something is true do they then formulate a hypothesis designed to facilitate further testing.
3. Test and reject. This is where scientists and level-headed people separate the chaff from the wheat. There’s a massive amount of chaff (chatter) out there these days, including on all (yes – all) mainstream media channels. They’re not all bad. It’s just that some are better than others. Remember the oath of a witness, to “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” Let’s examine this in further details:
- Tell the truth: Some sources remain silent on an issue when they should speak up. Most liberal media channels adopt this tactic.
- The whole truth: Some sources twist the truth by not telling all of it. Nearly all channels have done this.
- And nothing but the truth: A few sources tell outright lies, but they’re usually veiled to escape detection.
4. What remains is probably the truth. Only then do scientists postulate they have a theory, and offer a sold research paper up for peer-review.
In summary, this is the scientific method, how to separate the chaff from the wheat in order to proceed from idealism to realism: event –> observation –> hypothesis –> testing –> evaluation –> theory –> confirmation by many competent, independent reviews –> law
To hammer this point home:
What I’ve encountered most often in recent months involve accusations of insurrection and rebellion. Thank GOD these are simply answered:
Our Constitution remains “the supreme Law of the Land.” It alone forms the foundation of our Republic, known as the United States of America. Our Constitution requires an oath of office from our President as well as all members of both houses of Congress and all members of the Supreme Court to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic.”
Hold them to it. Verbatim. It’s NOT a rebellion. It’s a restoration.