Libertarians! An Electoral Adventure

That the constitution had to be *amended* to allow women to vote, and to end slavery. Those are signs that a document is not flawless, and needs to be taken as a roadmap, not the end-all-be-all.

Question: Isn't the Constitution a list of things the government CAN'T do? How do you use that as a framework for what the government should do?

In other words, if something is not in the Constitution, doesn't that mean the government has free reign to do it, since it's not prohibited specifically by an ammendment?

Edit: Well not every ammendment says what the government can't do, but most of the ones that aren't can still be viewed that way. The 16th ammendment appears to be the only one I see that really just gives power.

SixteenBlue wrote:

Question: Isn't the Constitution a list of things the government CAN'T do? How do you use that as a framework for what the government should do?

In other words, if something is not in the Constitution, doesn't that mean the government has free reign to do it, since it's not prohibited specifically by an ammendment?

Edit: Well not every ammendment says what the government can't do, but most of the ones that aren't can still be viewed that way. The 16th ammendment appears to be the only one I see that really just gives power.

Eh, I'm not sure I see that one either. The implications of that are... unfortunate.

It's not a tight-enough document to be definitive one way or the other. Nothing ever can be for anything as complicated as government, let alone for any length of time. Human society changes too damned fast.

I'm reading a biography of George Washington right now, and these were essentially the exact same conflicts that forged the Constitution as a compromise document, between aggressive states-rights supporters, and aggressive federal-powers supporters. Ultimately the Constitution was designed to be a very open-ended document, so that it could adapt to the realities of future situations, rather than stagnate. My personal loyalties lie with the Federalists, but I don't think it's at all fair to say that the Founding Fathers intended the Constitution to be holy writ. By being such a short, vague document, the Federal government was *required* to look outside its bounds to develop - i.e., no provisions were made for cabinet level positions, other than war, state and treasury, initially.

Kannon wrote:
SixteenBlue wrote:

Question: Isn't the Constitution a list of things the government CAN'T do? How do you use that as a framework for what the government should do?

In other words, if something is not in the Constitution, doesn't that mean the government has free reign to do it, since it's not prohibited specifically by an ammendment?

Edit: Well not every ammendment says what the government can't do, but most of the ones that aren't can still be viewed that way. The 16th ammendment appears to be the only one I see that really just gives power.

Eh, I'm not sure I see that one either. The implications of that are... unfortunate.

It's not a tight-enough document to be definitive one way or the other. Nothing ever can be for anything as complicated as government, let alone for any length of time. Human society changes too damned fast.

Oh no, I'm not actually in favor of that idea. I'm more trying to criticize the idea that the Federal government should be entirely revolve around the Constitution. The Constitution is not a list of things the Federal government should do. It's almost entirely a list of things it shouldn't do. Nothing is so straight forward as "just follow this document and you're gold."

MacBrave wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:

That's my question to you: why is the response to "it's not enumerated in the Constitution" the response of "shut it down" and not "amend the Constitution"?

Most likely because amending the Constitution is *hard* so it's much simpler to twist the meaning of a phrase in the Constitution to conform to one's agenda (*cough* commerce clause *cough*) or just ignore the document altogether.

You are misunderstanding me. I'm asking you about these people who want to shut down departments like this: why do they say the departments need to be shut down instead of saying the departments need to be legitimized by an amendment?

Is that clear? What I'm trying to point out to you is that "it's not Constitutional" is a bullsh*t reason for "shut it down." Speaking of agendas, my point is that people are hiding their Libertarian agendas behind the Constitution. If you think a certain department is a bad idea, then you should want to shut it down. If you think a certain department is a GOOD idea, you should NOT want to shut it down. Whether it's enumerated in the Constitution or not has nothing to do with whether a certain department is good or bad, so saying "it's not enumerated in the Constitution" is a non-answer because no one asked "is it Constitutional?"

And how is that not Constitutional? The Constitution itself was a move towards that from the Articles of Confederation.

Why do we have the 10th amendment?

We certainly don't have it because the Framers thought that the balance of state and Federal power, say, appropriate for an era where communications moved at the speed of a gallop or the technology for communications was 'one if by land; two if by sea' represents the extreme limit of centralization of government before we slip into tyranny.

Kannon wrote:

No offense OG, but you're not known for a... well, tolerant view of the Libertarian outlook.

No offense taken.

MacBrave wrote:

Why yes, the Constitution is a dated, out of touch document. We ought to pitch the damn thing and start all over again. *rolleyes*

And "growing our country" via expanding the power of the federal government to a degree that would frankly shock the framers of the constitution has gotten us where? A country so deeply in debt that we've practically ruined the futures of our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

The Constitution isn't a dated, out of touch document because we periodically update it with Amendments. That's why black people still aren't considered the property of whites and women can vote.

And, for the record, I never said we should pitch it and start over. I just pointed out that because the Founding Fathers didn't see the need to explicitly say we needed a Department of Energy to manage nuclear energy and its by-products doesn't mean we shouldn't have one now. Hell, our Founding Fathers didn't even know there were things called atoms when they wrote the Constitution.

As I said, times change.

And I disagree that our Founding Fathers would be shocked at where the Constitution has gotten us. It's grown us from a bunch of scrappy rebels to a global super-power, kept the same system of government functioning for 200+ years, and even managed to (slowly) change as our society has changed.

I imagine they would look at all the things we bitch about--gridlock, partisan bickering, etc.--and smile because the government was working exactly as they intended: no one branch could grab all the power.

The framers were some smart, shrewd folks. I would imagine that if they had all the information we have today and understand the problems we face they wouldn't be so concerned with the power of states. They'd realize inter-connectedness rules the modern world and people have to work together to solve big problems. That can't be done if we're just 50 independent states each vying for our own self interest.

Give it some thought. How do you think the Founding Fathers would deal with something like the pollution from one state's coal-fired power plants wafting over and destroying the health of another state's citizens? I doubt they'd just chalk it up to state's rights and tell the affected state to suck it. They'd recognize it's a problem and figure out a solution like, say, the EPA where every state has to play by the same rules when it comes to managing their pollution.

Yes, we're in debt to the tune of about one year of our collective economic output. That's a big problem, but one that can be overcome if the political parties would simply compromise a bit. We can't get out of debt by only cutting spending, just like we can't do it by only raising taxes. We need to do both. And we'll need to do it for decades to get out of this jam.

It's not an impossible problem considering that every home owner has effectively taken on a debt load equal to several years of their income.

That means we need to have some real conversations about what we're spending money on and what our real priorities as a nation should be. Unfortunately, we seem to spend most of our time blathering on about sh*t that's a rounding error in our national budget. The two of the biggest items get the least attention: a military budget that consumes fully 50% of all discretionary spending (and with little to no actual oversight or accountability) and a healthcare system that is riddled with middlemen each demanding their slice of profit.

Grubber788 wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:

What's weird to me is when people try to use the Constitution as an argument for why a department is a bad idea, as if the fact that something is not enumerated in the Constitution means it's therefore necessarily evil. If a department is not enumerated in the Constitution, that's not a reason to shut it down. That's at best a reason to Amend the Constitution. Whether it should be shut down or not is a matter of whether it's a good idea or not--it's impossible for me to find anything in the Constitution that is evidence the Founding Fathers would think a department of something like energy in 2012 would be a bad idea. If anything, given the history of the transition of the Articles of Confederation to the Constitution, it's pretty clear the opposite is the case.

This is something that has been bothering me lately about political rhetoric. Why are people so ardently beholden to the Constitution? It's like people can criticize the Bible as being an ancient text, but from where I'm sitting, the Constitution isn't much better. If something in the Constitution is unclear, can't we argue to amend it based on things other than what is contained within the Constitution itself?

Well that's the thing. The only people who talk about constitutional amendments are Republicans who want to ban flag burning. Or maybe pro-lifers.

MacBrave wrote:

No, but it is a pretty good indicator that maybe the function that department performs is better left solely at the state level.

Well, then, it's *very* clear that a non-standing militia is the only legitimate land military force authorized by the Constitution. The permanent Army and related forces *must* be off the table, at a minimum.

The idea that only things "enumerated" in the Constitution are authorized by it neglects the fact that large swathes of the Constitution are very vague. For example, anything that can be argued to be "for the common welfare" can be argued to be constitutional. And the Commerce Clause is likewise both very clear and extremely wide-reaching.

We don't look to the Constitution for the limits on things like government departments; they are easy to justify. We look to Congress and the Supreme Court to do the limiting; that's their role.

Yup. Constitutional Originalists can kiss 3/5 of my ass.

We don't look to the Constitution for the limits on things like government departments; they are easy to justify. We look to Congress and the Supreme Court to do the limiting; that's their role.

Then there's no point in even having a f*cking Constitution, or a big involved process to change it, if Congress and the Supremes can just ignore any part of it they want.

People have been arguing for many years that all these assumptions of power are dangerous. At the time, they were laughed at for being 'slippery slopers'. Well, now that the slope is actually slippery, in some cases the exact same people are using the prior power grabs as the actual justification for the new ones, when that's precisely the argument that was laughed at decades ago.

Side A: "We can do anything we want."
Side B: "The Constitution is all about enumerated powers, and those powers aren't enumerated. Even if this is a noble goal, this idea will be misused."
Side A: "You're full of sh*t, the noble goal is worth it."
(20 years later)
Side A: "We can do anything we want, including outright ignoring explicit language in the Constitution we don't like."
Side B: "The Constitution is all about enumerated powers, and these powers aren't enumerated."
Side A: "Well, those powers weren't enumerated 20 years ago, and we took those, so clearly it's Constitutional for us to do anything we want."

Again: there's no reason to even have a Constitution. The entire idea of enumerated powers is just gone, living-documented into oblivion. The "we can do anything we want" people win, and they won by slippery-sloping it.

The problem is, eventually the people in power are going to want to do things you don't like, perhaps locking you up for 17 years for having opinions they don't care for, and you will not be able to stop them. The entire basis of the country has been corrupted, the social contract rescinded by stealth and lies and creative redefinition of words into meaninglessness.

If you people supporting this expansionist view of government power ever use the phrase "The Land of the Free" in anything but an ironic way, I hope there's some invisible entity that will do some smiting, because that would certainly be smite-worthy.

How is this an expansionist view of government power? It's just replacing state government power with Federal government power. It's all still government power.

Quote:

We don't look to the Constitution for the limits on things like government departments; they are easy to justify. We look to Congress and the Supreme Court to do the limiting; that's their role.

Then there's no point in even having a f*cking Constitution, or a big involved process to change it, if Congress and the Supremes can just ignore any part of it they want.

Malor, you add one word - "ignore" - and the situation is no longer what I described. I am talking about a bog-standard description of Constitutional power, and you're making up weird stuff and smacking it around. Needless to say, I'm not asserting what you *said* I was asserting. For anyone who cares, I was arguing that the Constitutional powers are not *limited* to those enumerated directly. The very phrasing of the Constitution is designed to accommodate things that the Founders *knew* they could not anticipate in any detail, and that's the point I'm making. Needless to say - well, apparently needful now - I'm not arguing that anyone should "ignore" the Constitution, or that it offers "limitless" power to government, or that that is even anywhere near good.

The veiled threat at the end was something else, even for you. You're starting to worry me.

CheezePavilion wrote:

How is this an expansionist view of government power? It's just replacing state government power with Federal government power. It's all still government power.

Then why even have state governments in the first place? Time to replace the 50 stars with just one big one.

MacBrave wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:

How is this an expansionist view of government power? It's just replacing state government power with Federal government power. It's all still government power.

Then why even have state governments in the first place? Time to replace the 50 stars with just one big one.

Would that be such a bad thing?

SallyNasty wrote:
MacBrave wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:

How is this an expansionist view of government power? It's just replacing state government power with Federal government power. It's all still government power.

Then why even have state governments in the first place? Time to replace the 50 stars with just one big one.

Would that be such a bad thing?

Good question. Maybe individual states are just antiquated holdovers and are no longer necessary in our nation of phones, email, interstate highways, and air travel.

After all in a truly new world society shouldn't I, sitting here in little 'ole Frankfort Indiana, have a valid say in, for example, how the schools are being run in Portland Oregon?

MacBrave wrote:
SallyNasty wrote:
MacBrave wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:

How is this an expansionist view of government power? It's just replacing state government power with Federal government power. It's all still government power.

Then why even have state governments in the first place? Time to replace the 50 stars with just one big one.

Would that be such a bad thing?

Good question. Maybe individual states are just antiquated holdovers and are no longer necessary in our nation of phones, email, interstate highways, and air travel.

After all in a truly new world society shouldn't I, sitting here in little 'ole Frankfort Indiana, have a valid say in, for example, how the schools are being run in Portland Oregon?

I really wasn't trolling or trying to be provocative with my question, it is just something I have been thinking a lot about lately. On one hand, I see what you are getting at in terms of having a say in local vs. distant - but on the other hand your kids and the kids in Portland could very well be applying for the same jobs, in this increasingly globalized/internet world of ours. Shouldn't they be educated/held to the same standards? I don't know, but I would rather err on the side of caution.

The Founding Fathers were a bit overly wary of a federal government and a bit too innocent in their trust of state governments. But consider that the US population in 1790 was 3,929,214 people, while today that's about the population of just the state of Oregon (27th in population).

SallyNasty wrote:
MacBrave wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:

How is this an expansionist view of government power? It's just replacing state government power with Federal government power. It's all still government power.

Then why even have state governments in the first place? Time to replace the 50 stars with just one big one.

Would that be such a bad thing?

Would the federal government also absorb county and city governments too? Each layer of government has different responsibilities and focus.

Quintin_Stone wrote:

Some of the Founding Fathers were a bit overly wary of a federal government and a bit too innocent in their trust of state governments. But consider that the US population in 1790 was 3,929,214 people, while today that's about the population of just the state of Oregon (27th in population).

SallyNasty wrote:
MacBrave wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:

How is this an expansionist view of government power? It's just replacing state government power with Federal government power. It's all still government power.

Then why even have state governments in the first place? Time to replace the 50 stars with just one big one.

Would that be such a bad thing?

Would the federal government also absorb county and city governments too? Each layer of government has different responsibilities and focus.

It's also important to remember that within a few years of the Constitution being adopted, two major factions existed, with almost completely opposite views on Federal vs. State powers.

Quintin_Stone wrote:

The Founding Fathers were a bit overly wary of a federal government and a bit too innocent in their trust of state governments. But consider that the US population in 1790 was 3,929,214 people, while today that's about the population of just the state of Oregon (27th in population).

SallyNasty wrote:
MacBrave wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:

How is this an expansionist view of government power? It's just replacing state government power with Federal government power. It's all still government power.

Then why even have state governments in the first place? Time to replace the 50 stars with just one big one.

Would that be such a bad thing?

Would the federal government also absorb county and city governments too? Each layer of government has different responsibilities and focus.

Sure! It sure would cut down on the number of elected officials in this country. I'm sure senators and U.S. congressman could then appoint bureaucrats to run county and city institutions.

It's also important to remember that within a few years of the Constitution being adopted, two major factions existed, with almost completely opposite views on Federal vs. State powers.

And one of them threatened rebellion a few times, then actually *did* it, and got smacked down...

Tanglebones wrote:

It's also important to remember that within a few years of the Constitution being adopted, two major factions existed, with almost completely opposite views on Federal vs. State powers.

Fair point!

MacBrave wrote:

Sure! It sure would cut down on the number of elected officials in this country. I'm sure senators and U.S. congressman could then appoint bureaucrats to run county and city institutions.

Less accountability in government? Just what we need.

Quintin_Stone wrote:
Tanglebones wrote:

It's also important to remember that within a few years of the Constitution being adopted, two major factions existed, with almost completely opposite views on Federal vs. State powers.

Fair point!

MacBrave wrote:

Sure! It sure would cut down on the number of elected officials in this country. I'm sure senators and U.S. congressman could then appoint bureaucrats to run county and city institutions.

Less accountability in government? Just what we need.

You joke, but sometimes I wish local government officials weren't accountable to (read: vulnerable to the whims of) local yokels. This is how creationism gets taught in science class.

Then again, the system of governors appointing bureaucrats didn't really work too well for imperial China, so there's that...

MacBrave wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:

How is this an expansionist view of government power? It's just replacing state government power with Federal government power. It's all still government power.

Then why even have state governments in the first place? Time to replace the 50 stars with just one big one.

Maybe, maybe not: the point here is that even if what Malor was saying about the Constitution were true, there would be no expansion of government power. It would just be a hand off of government power from the states to the Federal.

MacBrave wrote:
SallyNasty wrote:

Would that be such a bad thing?

Good question. Maybe individual states are just antiquated holdovers and are no longer necessary in our nation of phones, email, interstate highways, and air travel.

After all in a truly new world society shouldn't I, sitting here in little 'ole Frankfort Indiana, have a valid say in, for example, how the schools are being run in Portland Oregon?

You've got a valid say in how the schools are being run in Gary, Indiana. If a small town county seat in the middle of the state has a valid say in how the schools are run in an industrial city that practically borders on Chicago, I don't see how bringing Portland, Oregon into the mix makes any kind of point.

CheezePavilion wrote:

Maybe, maybe not: the point here is that even if what Malor was saying about the Constitution were true, there would be no expansion of government power. It would just be a hand off of government power from the states to the Federal.

What would be the positives and negatives of such a hand off?

CheezePavilion wrote:

You've got a valid say in how the schools are being run in Gary, Indiana.

The last time I checked I wasn't eligible to vote in City of Gary elections, including the local school board. No do I particular want to. I'l just continue to work at making my local community the best place it can be instead of sticking my nose into other communities business.

MacBrave wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:

Maybe, maybe not: the point here is that even if what Malor was saying about the Constitution were true, there would be no expansion of government power. It would just be a hand off of government power from the states to the Federal.

What would be the positives and negatives of such a hand off?

Many. And they probably change depending on who you are and where you are.

MacBrave wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:

You've got a valid say in how the schools are being run in Gary, Indiana.

The last time I checked I wasn't eligible to vote in City of Gary elections, including the local school board. No do I particular want to.

Why would an expansion of Federal power mean you could vote in the City of Portland election?

MacBrave wrote:

I'll just continue to work at making my local community the best place it can be instead of sticking my nose into other communities business.

You seem to be confusing states with communities (edit: if they ever really were--you look at the divide on, say, secession between the rural parts of southern states that were for the Union and the richer, more urban parts of southern states that took the people of the hill country and the backwoods to war against their will, and you have to wonder if 'states rights' were really 'local elite rights'). Our states are no longer communities. The people of Portland have a heck of a lot more in common with the people of, say, Olympia in the state of Washington than they do with many of the 'communities' in their own state. Would you say Gary, Indiana has a lot more in common with Chicago, Illinois or with Frankfort?

I couldn't disagree more. I'm not sure why people are arguing FOR less involvement of individuals. Gary, Indiana is EXACTLY like Portland, Oregon.... except that since Portland has its own government it can decide that it values bike lanes, dense living, etc. So... identical. Sorry, it's hard not to be snarky about that.

If it weren't for the states having *some* power I'd give up entirely on the US government, honestly. But with states and cities having some power you can have cities like you have in the Pacific Northwest where you can take values like livable cities, bikeable cities, etc. and make it so. If we had no local governments I think the entire country would be a giant suburb. States and cities having character based on their ability to decide what they want to be isn't a bad thing. And it allows individuals to feel they have some ability to affect change.

Without state governments you'd have no Prop 8. But you also wouldn't have states pushing for gay marriage, decriminalization of drugs, etc. Real progress often happens because people can make it happen on the state or city level. This can't be denied or ignored.

I wouldn't want to lose the benefit of small governments having enough autonomy to be self-deterministic. Imagine lobbyists and politicians making cowardly decisions on drugs, marriage, etc. on a national level. I dare say there would be little to no progress.

DSGamer wrote:

I couldn't disagree more.

I'm not sure what you're disagreeing with.

CheezePavilion wrote:
MacBrave wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:

Maybe, maybe not: the point here is that even if what Malor was saying about the Constitution were true, there would be no expansion of government power. It would just be a hand off of government power from the states to the Federal.

What would be the positives and negatives of such a hand off?

Many. And they probably change depending on who you are and where you are.

MacBrave wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:

You've got a valid say in how the schools are being run in Gary, Indiana.

The last time I checked I wasn't eligible to vote in City of Gary elections, including the local school board. No do I particular want to.

Why would an expansion of Federal power mean you could vote in the City of Portland election?

MacBrave wrote:

I'll just continue to work at making my local community the best place it can be instead of sticking my nose into other communities business.

You seem to be confusing states with communities (edit: if they ever really were--you look at the divide on, say, secession between the rural parts of southern states that were for the Union and the richer, more urban parts of southern states that took the people of the hill country and the backwoods to war against their will, and you have to wonder if 'states rights' were really 'local elite rights'). Our states are no longer communities. The people of Portland have a heck of a lot more in common with the people of, say, Olympia in the state of Washington than they do with many of the 'communities' in their own state. Would you say Gary, Indiana has a lot more in common with Chicago, Illinois or with Frankfort?

The greater Chicago area has almost no similarities to the rest of the state and there is quite a bit of animosity. Cook county might as well be another state.

NathanialG wrote:

The greater Chicago area has almost no similarities to the rest of the state and there is quite a bit of animosity. Cook county might as well be another state.

And yet it never comes to pass...why is that, exactly? Only so many Superman museums to go 'round?

Seriously, I'm sick to death of the conflation of symbiotic and parasitic relationships. If you don't want to be part of society, get yourself a damned iceberg.