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.
Please feel free to copy the text below and send it to your members of Congress. I did.
To the Honorable (Full Name of your Senators and Representative):
I read the news this evening (9:19 PM ET, Wed December 16, 2015) with grave concern: “As his administration prepares an executive order tightening access to guns, President Barack Obama met Wednesday with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a proponent of new gun laws who has become the chief enemy of the National Rifle Association. The White House said Obama and Bloomberg “discussed ways to keep guns out of the hands of those who should not have access to them and what more could be done at the state and local level to help address gun violence in America.”
Below, I provide specific excerpts from our Constitution and Federal law that highlight President Obama’s blatantly un-Constitutional actions:
1. The U.S. Constitution is “the supreme Law of the Land” (Article VI) and all amendments “shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution” (Article V).
2. The U.S. Constitution grants only certain, specific, and limited powers to the federal government. Article I outlines the powers and responsibilities given to Congress; Article II outlines the powers and responsibilities given to the President; Article II outlines the powers and responsibilities given to the Judges of the Supreme Court. The Tenth Amendment states, “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.
3. The U.S. Constitution and U.S. Federal Law holds Congress, the President, the Supreme Court Justices, and all civil and military officers accountable to the same exacting standard by way of oath of office. For all but the President, the oath of office reads: “I, AB, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”” (Article VI and 5 U.S. Code § 3331 – Oath of office, (Pub. L. 89–554, Sept. 6, 1966, 80 Stat. 424.)). The President’s oath of office reads, “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States” (Article II, Section 1).
4. The 1982 Congressional Report on the Right to Keep and Bear Arms provides 65 references in Constitutional and Federal law, along with 21 citations of case law that fully explain the efficacy and scope of our Second Amendment (https://ryoc.us/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/1982-Congressional-Report-on-the-Right-to-Keep-and-Bear-Arms.pdf).
5. Our Second Amendment reads, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” This right is an individual right (Heller) and applies to all the states (McDonald). District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), was a landmark case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held in a 5-4 decision that the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution applies to federal enclaves and protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm for traditionally lawful purposes. McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U.S. 742 (2010), is a landmark decision of the Supreme Court of the United States that determined whether the Second Amendment applies to the individual states. The Court held that the right of an individual to “keep and bear arms” protected by the Second Amendment is incorporated by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and applies to the states. Furthermore, the “shall not be infringed” clause is open ended, applies to all entities including the federal government, and allows zero wiggle room for any sort of infringement. The term “shall” means It is an absolute command, one without recourse. Thus, any local, county, state, or federal legislation or executive order that limits, impedes, restricts, slows, or otherwise interferes with an individual’s right to keep (own/possess) and bear (carry) arms is patently un-Constitutional.
As a reminder, Congressman/Senator X, this also applies to federal enclaves, which means the No Firearms sign posted at the entrance of your district office is also in violation of our Constitutional right to keep and bear arms (District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008)). As we have clearly seen since 1990, so-called “gun-free zones” provide absolutely zero protection while actually inviting criminally insane behavior. The 1982 Congressional Report on the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, along with recent decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court and federal courts are undeniable with respect to the strength of protection the Second Amendment affords our right to keep and bear arms. Statistics clearly show that both the general public as well as office workers are safest in areas void of any such “gun-free zone” restrictions. Please respect that by removing the sign. Thank you.
6. Any “executive order” penned by Obama with respect to the right of the people to keep and bear arms is rendered null and void by the U.S. Constitution before the ink hits the paper. “Executive Orders” may carry the “weight of law,” but only insofar as:
A. They’re directed to a department or other government entity under the Constitutional authority of the President of the United States of America…
B. The orders themselves do not violate the Constitution itself or any local, state, or federal statute which lawfully derives its authority from the Constitution.
In fact, the ONLY power the President has with respect to “executive orders” stems from Article II, Section 2: “…he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices.”
That’s it, Congressman/Senator X. Obama can order the State Department, for example, to provide a written report.
Obama can NOT “infringe on the right of the people to keep and bear arms,” and ANY leeway given to him by Congress exceeds both the President’s and Congress’ authority to do so.
I did NOT trade the best 20 years of my life to stand idly by while those who cannot respect and follow our Constitution erode the rights of myself and my countrymen.
I respectfully request you adopt the same mindset and do everything in your power to stop Obama’s blatantly un-Constitutional actions.
Thank you for your time.
Link to originating article: http://www.cnn.com/2015/12/16/politics/obama-mike-bloomberg-gun-control/index.html
Seriously, people. Let’s do a reality check, here: No gun owner I’ve ever met was off his or her rocker, but I’ve met more than a handful of anti-gunners who were certifiable. In fact, I have found that those who exercise their Second Amendment rights to be more stable, on average, than those who don’t.
Each year armed American citizens stop approximately 650,000 to 800,000 violent crimes, usually without firing a shot. This strongly indicates that if any armed student had encountered the Virginia Tech shooter in 2007, it’s likely things would have ended much sooner, with fewer lives lost.
Because they’re perpetrated by the criminally insane, mass shootings are NOT “preventable.” Even if everyone in the U.S. received psychiatric evaluations (itself a massive violation of Constitutional rights), I doubt it would ID even half of these nuts. A number of studies indicate that most would slip through the cracks, whereas such a program would generate literally millions of false positives, thereby denying countless Americans their Constitutional rights on error. Not only does this approach fail all tests of rationality and common sense, but it would utterly fail to achieve its objective while slaughtering human rights and putting millions of innocent individuals in harm’s way in the process.
That is absolutely, unquestionably, unacceptable.
These mass shootings can be mitigated by more people exercising their right to keep and bear arms. It’s certainly not for everyone. For those who are well-trained (the 2nd Amendment’s “well-regulated”), however, carrying is an effective means of stopping shootings in progress, and widespread open carry is also an effective deterrent, as evidenced by the fact that more than 4 out of 5 mass shootings occur in “gun-free zones” whereas such zones only occupy less than 10% of the locations people frequent. The truth is that that just because they’re crazy or criminally insane doesn’t mean they’re stupid.
After examining all the evidence surrounding this issue, there’s only one logical conclusion at which a rational person can arrive: Either Obama, Bloomberg and other anti-gun nuts are the ones who are crazy, or they’re the criminals, disarming the general public in preparation for tyranny.
Regardless of your station in life, if you encounter something which is un-Constitutional, just say, “NO.” It’s the absolute best thing you can do for your country!
If it’s un-Constitutional, just say, “NO.” After all the Constitution is “the supreme Law of the Land.” Any federal, state, county, or municipal law which violates the Constitution is null and void.
If it’s un-Constitutional, just say, “NO.” The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that no citizen is under any obligation to follow any law which violates the Constitution. In fact, you have a duty to oppose it any way you can.
If it’s un-Constitutional, just say, “NO.” Each and every civil, military, and law enforcement officer throughout the land has a sworn duty to “support and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic.” That duty is higher than all other duties. If a law is un-Constitutional, you not only have the option to ignore it. You have a duty to ignore it. You have the duty to refuse to enforce it, even under direct orders to the contrary. That’s WHY you swore your oath of office, so that you would be one of the many checks against tyranny in our country.
We the People remain free only because we’ve stood firm against tyranny, countering attempts to control us in violation of our Constitutional rights. Our Founding Fathers were wise enough to incorporate many checks and balances against tyranny throughout our society, above and beyond the tricameral system at the top.
Here’s an example: Let’s say Congress passes a blatantly un-Constitutional law, the President signs it, and the Supreme Court claims it’s Constitutional, even though We the People clearly see right through their tyrannical hijinks.
What can we do?
First, if you’re a citizen, refuse to follow it. The Supreme Court has already ruled you’re under no obligation to follow it.
Second, if you’re a law enforcement officers, refuse to enforce it. In fact, it’s your sworn duty to refuse any action which violates the Constitution.
Third, if you’re a voter, change your vote to someone other than whoever passed and signed that law. Better yet, find someone who will overturn it.
Forth, educate others. Share this message of hope and freedom with others!
Fifth, if the bastards refuse to follow the rules, if they attempt to take tyrannical, unlawful, un-Constitutional control of our government, move in and move them out. While all defeated incumbents should have the grace to vacate their office, we might come upon a time when they won’t, at least not without a little encouragement.
Above all else, remember: This is OUR country. Our government works for us, not the other way around. We remain a nation of the people, by the people, and for the people.
It’s high time we started acting like it.