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For the people

Posted Wednesday, June 10, 2009, at 3:09 PM

Wouldn't it be great if we had more government for the people rather than so much government sticking it to the people?

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Okay, it has been a week now. I hope I did not give you the impression that your list convinced me, and that idea has caused you to rest on your laurels. I chose not to dispute the other three only out of politeness, and to give you some wiggle room. Seriously, we cannot both be right here. If I am looking at this wrong, and am displaying any hatred toward the principles this country was founded on, I want to know about it. I believe myself to be a fairly patriotic person, so if I am in need of some further understanding regarding the ideals of a patriot, please provide it.

I am not trying to be mean. As I wrote before, I honestly do appreciate your dedication and conviction. If I were trapped in a foxhole, and had to have some company, I would prefer someone like yourself, provided we were both on the same page and very clear about who the enemy was, who the friendlies were and the ultimate objectives desired.

I would just rather get to the bottom of this now as opposed to waiting until the next relevant story or blog and starting it all over again, as that is just a matter of time. I think at this point I understand what you believe, what I want to know is why you believe it. I am not even necessarily opposed to believing the same way; it is just that I need a rational explanation that somehow matches up with actual historic reality. If however, you can not find that explanation, do you think there is any chance at all that your understanding may be slightly off center?

-- Posted by memyselfi on Sat, Jun 27, 2009, at 1:33 AM

There is no doubt the Constitution was left open to interpretation. It says as much when explaining the judicial branches role.

As far as I can tell, it was ratified for the most part because there was so much ambiguity.

There are many national constitutions that mirror the language of our own and ours was not all that original in itself. Actually, most constitutions and legal codes are similar regardless of the specific outcomes of the governance in question. If it works, why change it?

-- Posted by memyselfi on Thu, Jun 18, 2009, at 1:55 PM

The cause of the ambiguity is two-fold I think. 1) to defer some tough issues that there was no consensus about, and 2) to provide flexibility in an ever changing environment. Can the 2nd be read in many ways? Sure, and it will, depending on the needs of the federal government at any given time. That is how it was set up and how it is supposed to be as far as I can tell.

-- Posted by memyselfi on Thu, Jun 18, 2009, at 12:43 PM

If there was no consensus how did they manage to get the constitution ratified? Why do so many state constitutions mirror much of it's language?

If the constitution was meant to be flexible and open to interpretation depending on current needs, there would have been no need for them to include a process for amending it. They would have just expected leaders to re-interpret it whenever convenient.

-- Posted by quietmike on Thu, Jun 18, 2009, at 12:54 PM

That is about as good a list as I would have expected from anyone. However, I can only admit that 3 of your examples are valid in an attempt to check the powers at a federal level, Cruikshank (1876), Heller (DC) and Lopez. 2 of your list are actually in my camp (Darby and Garcia), and 1 deals with specific enforcement issues, not power issues (New York). There will be some give and take as judges (and their dispositions) change through history and the needs of the nation come and go, but the bulk of history affirms the federal government's role of supremacy.

The feds are pretty well free to do as they please. That is why there are "constitutional amendments to abolish slavery, outlaw alcohol, repeal prohibition, and pass suffrage".

What I am trying to get at here, is that it would not be at all difficult to change the understandings given a real or perceived clear and present danger to the current political power structure. For all the posturing, our beloved and benevolent leaders will close rank quickly in a pinch. Jumping through the hoops is just a formality. If need be, there are constitutionally protected ways to avoid it for periods of time sufficient for working out the formalities.

The last part of your comment I agree with, somewhat. The Supreme Court has consistently ruled leaning to the most liberal interpretation of the 2nd as it pertains specifically to small arms. They also unfailingly affirm the ability of the federal government to regulate them, and their sale. So at the end of the day what do we have?

The hunting buddies could only be part of a protected militia if 1) they are well regulated and 2) their objective is to defend the laws of the land as outlined by federal understandings of the time. I have no problems with mercenaries or state militias who act with legitimate authority, within the scope of their assignments and I do not discount their usefulness. It just does not follow that anyone (or some people) with a gun and an ideal should be considered a protected militia.

Do you think that maybe the framers just did not have a mastery of the language when drafting the framework? Maybe time has changed the meaning and intent? Is it possible that they lived so long age they did not understand how society would progress? Could be that they were in a hurry to get out of session and hit the taverns? No, I do not think so. The people sweeping the floor had more sense than most leaders today. The cause of the ambiguity is two-fold I think. 1) to defer some tough issues that there was no consensus about, and 2) to provide flexibility in an ever changing environment. Can the 2nd be read in many ways? Sure, and it will, depending on the needs of the federal government at any given time. That is how it was set up and how it is supposed to be as far as I can tell.

-- Posted by memyselfi on Thu, Jun 18, 2009, at 12:43 PM

U.S. vs Cruikshank (1876 supreme court case) rules that the constitution was designed to limit the power of the federal government and leave more power in the hands of the states.

" The first amendment to the Constitution prohibits Congress from abridging "the right of the people to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances." This, like the other amendments proposed and adopted at the same time, was not intended to limit the powers of the State governments in respect to their own citizens, but to operate upon the National government alone...

...For their protection in its enjoyment, therefore, the people must look to the States. The power for that purpose was originally placed there, and it has never been surrendered to the United States."

for some other cases try:

D.C. v Heller

United States v. Darby, 312 U.S. 100, 124 (1941)

New York v. United States, 505 U.S. 144 (1992)

Printz v. United States, 521 U.S. 898 (1997)

Garcia v. San Antonio Metropolitan Transit Authority (1985)

United States v. Lopez 514 U.S. 549 (1995)

That should be enough snipe hunting :-)

If individuals and states have no power except what was given to them by the feds, and the feds were able to do as they please, why were constitutional amendments necessary to abolish slavery, outlaw alcohol, repeal prohibition, and pass suffrage?

If it were as you claim, the feds could have just said "This is now the law because we said so!" without jumping through all the constitutional hoops.

It matters not that you don't see local hunting buddies as part of the militia. The supreme court has consistently ruled they are and wars such as the revolutionary war, the civil war, the barbary wars, even up to the Iraq war with it's "contractors" have been fought using non-professional soldiers.

-- Posted by quietmike on Thu, Jun 18, 2009, at 5:46 AM

I do not intend to send you on a historical snipe hunt, but I have to ask whose history it is that you are writing about. There is no US history that shows anything like that, at least as far as I know. Please refrain from using rhetorical quotes from politicians to prove your history. What I am looking for is law and precedence. I believe what you will find will be somewhat different than what you claim. You will find only a handful of historical precedence that does not line up in exactly in the opposite order that you indicated.

I think I do understand the problem here though. You feel betrayed because you believe that your understanding of liberty is being taken from you; the only problem is that your understanding never was. You were lied to 200 years ago, and you still believe it. Do you still believe Clinton "I never had..." Or HW Bush "Read my lips.." What about "I am not a crook" Or maybe the best one yet said by many presidents "Free trade...Global economy..."

Don't kid yourself. The tribute was more of a motivation than the tyranny was, and the checks and balances were in most cases provided to protect the "more capable set of men" from stronger and more capable sets of men, and to guard them all against a leveling spirit and in order to "protect the minority of the opulent against the majority". Because, after all, "the people who own the country ought to govern it". Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the life I have been given. We the people do have some influence in our governance. I cannot think of any better time or place in history to live than right here and now. It is just that I understand our place, and our place is at the bottom. We can push change and hope for the best. Every small victory for the common man is a victory nonetheless.

I had decided not to reply to another comment made by you on another blog page, but since I am here typing anyway: What makes you believe that the founding fathers wanted every person to possess firearms? The blacks? The women? The indentured servants? Are you joking? The people they were talking about were the landed aristocracy and those citizens who were beholden to them for their livelihoods (mostly on the backs of the others who would never have been allowed a gun). I just do not see Frank and Ed hunting or even Joe and Sam shooting their empties as they drink them as being a well organized militia. We are talking about warlords at this point. Warlords whose responsibility it was to keep the Federal law, not rewrite it or break it. The bottom line is that you possess firearms only at the leisure of the Federal government. They have the legal right to take them away any time they desire. Don't panic though, like I wrote earlier, your firearms do not worry the powers that be nearly as much as you might like to imagine.

-- Posted by memyselfi on Thu, Jun 18, 2009, at 4:09 AM

Great post memyselfi!

-- Posted by Momof3&3step&1gran on Sat, Jun 13, 2009, at 7:37 PM

It was all designed as part of the checks and balances to prevent a large, powerful, centralized government. That was one of the original reasons of escaping the monarchy of England.

The founding fathers knew that several states coming up with individual, local, solutions to various problems would be more equitable and palatable to it's citizens.

For example if California wanted legalized abortion, gay marriage, socialized health care, and so on, that individual state could pass them without forcing Alabama citizens who do not believe in those things to pay for them.

Also if an individual state passed something, like socialized medicine, and it proved to be a failure, it would cause relatively limited damage as compared to a nationwide investment.

The founding fathers believed in individual freedom and responsibility. They tried to keep as much of the authority at the individual, local, state, and federal level-IN THAT ORDER. Every bit of history that can be found backs this up.

-- Posted by quietmike on Sat, Jun 13, 2009, at 5:05 PM

I am a little unsure of how to reply to that comment. It seems to create a paradoxical alter system of governance that does not, nor has ever existed in this "country". You see, the principles this country were founded on are laid out in the Constitution itself which takes most rights away from the states. That is the only way to look at it as far as I know. Instead of trying to defend against your assertion, I would prefer to have a clear understanding of exactly what you believe this set of principles that I apparently hate is. It sounds to me as if you are the one who dislikes the principles this country was founded on.

The Constitution as a whole has a strong backbone and lots of teeth that do not depend at all on the peasants (armed or not) to do anything much, except simply be good peasants according to the guidelines of the federal government. It seems clear to me that the systems of defense, taxation, monetary/economic and enforcement are all ultimately delegated to the Federal government on the federal level with some powers being conditionally delegated to the states, and some very limited state autonomy. The 10th has fixed and certain limitations that fall directly back on the whole of the original Constitution, which puts the power directly into the hands at the federal level. If I gave you everything I owned, except for what I wanted, but I wanted everything I had, what would you get out of it? That is exactly what the 10th gave to the states.

-- Posted by memyselfi on Sat, Jun 13, 2009, at 12:09 PM

That is only the better way to look at the constitution if you hate the principles on which America was founded.

On your second point I agree. The constitution has no backbone or teeth on it's own. It relies on ARMED citizens to provide the teeth.

-- Posted by quietmike on Fri, Jun 12, 2009, at 6:39 PM

Actually, I think the better way to look at it is that there is nothing much left over that is not delegated to the federal government by the Constitution in one way or another. The 10th was a nod and a concession like the rest of the Bill of Rights. It has no backbone or teeth of it own accord and represents little more than pure rhetorical propaganda.

-- Posted by memyselfi on Fri, Jun 12, 2009, at 5:51 PM


You might want to brush up on your civics and American History.

The 10th Amendment says:

"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."

That means if the constitution doesn't require the federal government to do something that it is left for the states or the people, and the feds should keep their noses out of it.

-- Posted by quietmike on Fri, Jun 12, 2009, at 8:39 AM

Something that would be funny to see, each individual state sending individual armies or militias to fight our international battles... Each state having its own commander in chief, and lets see how much we'll accomplish then.

-- Posted by jesuslovesevery1 on Thu, Jun 11, 2009, at 9:32 PM

I would love for the FEDERAL government, i.e. Washington D.C. to allow the states to have states rights back again. Yes, I agree, most of the issues would be settled, by the individual states.

-- Posted by Sharon22 on Wed, Jun 10, 2009, at 11:14 PM

We could do that... but I believe the last time the states tried that, we had a civil war that cost millions of people there lives, for no reason at all.

You want a Confederacy where each individual state has its own Constitution that supercedes that of the U.S. Constitution? That is a nightmare waiting to happen. And you should stop saying the Pledge of Allegiance if that is how you truly feel. Otherwise you'd be a hypocrite for pledging to a system you want to overthrow.

-- Posted by jesuslovesevery1 on Thu, Jun 11, 2009, at 9:30 PM

The Clear Law Enforcement for Criminal Alien Removal Act would assist local governments and officers in removing criminal illegal aliens. The CLEAR Act, HR 2406, introduced by Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), affirms that state and local law enforcement personnel have the inherent authority to assist in the enforcement of U.S. immigration laws.

The bill would also reimburse states and localities for the costs of incarcerating illegal aliens and cut off certain federal funds to states that have laws or policies prohibiting such law enforcement assistance.

We must not allow our country's vast interior to become a free zone for aliens who slip past our borders. By allowing the thousands of local law enforcement officers to apprehend criminal aliens they encounter during the routine performance of their jobs, this legislation will greatly enhance our security

-- Posted by american patrol minuteman on Thu, Jun 11, 2009, at 7:28 PM

I would love for the FEDERAL government, i.e. Washington D.C. to allow the states to have states rights back again. Yes, I agree, most of the issues would be settled, by the individual states.

-- Posted by Sharon22 on Wed, Jun 10, 2009, at 11:14 PM

I would like for those who claim to hate big government to actually follow through... If you did that, then many issues like stem cell research research, abortion, and gay rights would be all but settled. Problem is, many who claim they wish to see government cease and desist, would likely be telling themselves, careful what ya wish for.

-- Posted by jesuslovesevery1 on Wed, Jun 10, 2009, at 10:57 PM

I would be happy with a "leave me alone" party. Don't try to fix my life for me or save me from myself. Leave me alone to make my own choices and I will gladly accept the consequences, good or bad.

***Message to the government***

I'm not Jesus, so stop punishing me for other people's sins.

-- Posted by quietmike on Wed, Jun 10, 2009, at 7:31 PM

More government for which people exactly? The way I see it, governments are always for a certain group of people, but inevitably seem to end up sticking it to the rest of us. I hear we are getting a lot more jail space "for the people" and maybe even a few extra guard positions to fill. What more could we hope for?

-- Posted by memyselfi on Wed, Jun 10, 2009, at 5:17 PM

I absolutely agree . . .

-- Posted by jaxspike on Wed, Jun 10, 2009, at 4:01 PM


-- Posted by Sharon22 on Wed, Jun 10, 2009, at 3:33 PM

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Bo Melson is a retired sports and police beat editor of the Times-Gazette. He passed away November 15, 2014, at age 81.
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