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“A Republic — If You Can Keep It” — Benjamin Franklin, on leaving the Constitutional Convention, 1787

September 26, 2018 Frontpage No Comments

BY CHRISTOPHER MANION

Every year on September 17, America celebrates Constitution Day, commemorating the signing of the Constitution in 1787. This year, Hillary Clinton used the occasion to complain that she would have won the presidency in 2016, had it not been for the Constitution.
The Constitution, apparently, is undemocratic, and Mrs. Clinton champions democracy, “our birthright as Americans.” Of course, she ignores the Founding Fathers, who detested democracy. They believed that our birthright is liberty. They knew their Aristotle: in his Politics, he carefully explains how democracy, the rule of the mob, leads to the rise of the tyrant.
Some 750 years later, St. Augustine discerned a simple truth that inspired Western Civilization for over a thousand years. Aristotle sought man’s highest good, and Augustine, in the light of Revelation, told us what that highest good is: we achieve our highest good when we enjoy the Beatific Vision in Heaven. To attain that eternal goal, he explains, our goal in this life is virtue; and the highest virtue is Caritas, love, “a motion of the soul toward the enjoyment of God for His own sake, and the enjoyment of one’s self and one’s neighbor for the sake of God.”
Well, the government — any government — ultimately rules by force. Government cannot love, whatever form the regime takes. It can’t make us love, either. So it can’t attain our highest goal for us, no matter how hard it tries, no matter how much power it has. Augustine tells us that the earthly ruler can provide us with only a modicum of peace, justice, and order in which to work out our salvation. But while our salvation is eternal, those goals are temporal, and thus subordinate. Hence, government must be limited in order for man to flourish in the realm of freedom that government must protect, but not invade.
Augustine’s notion of limited government was new to the ancient world, and it has been central to the history of Christendom. While the West flourished, every other civilization languished in tyranny. What made the West different? Christianity, and its limits on power.
The lust for power, Augustine explains, is the driving force of the City of Man, whose ruler is Satan. That’s why, since the French Revolution, those seeking unlimited power have unanimously recognized that they must destroy not only the limits on power, but the truths that demand those limits: they must destroy the Catholic Faith. And in destroying those limits, and the Faith that informs them, they must also destroy the source of that Faith — the Church, the bulwark that is the tyrant’s timeless obstacle to achieving unlimited power and keeping it. Once that destruction is achieved, the Left can finally attain its goal. As O’Brien describes it to Winston in Room 101, the torture chamber of Big Brother’s Ministry of Truth, that goal is “a boot stamping on a human face — forever.”

Ambitions Good And Bad

Well, our Constitution was written to prevent tyrants, not to preserve them. The Founders limit power in many ways. They were realists, not ideologues. They knew well the imperfections of fallen man and the attractions of the nefarious temptations to illegitimate power, so they introduced checks and balances to curb them. They included now familiar, but at the time groundbreaking, principles: Separation of Powers (the Executive, the Legislative, and the Judicial), each with limited and defined powers; the Division of Powers (state and federal), with the guarantee that “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.”
In James Madison’s words, “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition.”
Well, one thing we know about Hillary Clinton is that she resents powerfully anything that counteracts her ambition. And right now she’s convinced that the Constitution is her enemy, because she wants to destroy the barriers to the mob rule that our Founders strived to avoid. And her number is legion. Decades of content-free public schools and generations of lazy, ill-educated journalists, not to mention shallow politicians, constantly trumpet the notion that the United States is a “democracy.”
Well, “democracy” is the horse that Mrs. Clinton is going to ride, and she isn’t wasting any time. In order to erase the Constitution’s barrier to the victory she should have had, she is blunt: “I passionately believe it’s time to abolish the Electoral College,” she writes.
Mrs. Clinton’s apology tour never seems to end, but her passion for “democracy” is widely shared among the Left; If the presidency could be won with a simple majority of votes cast across the country, candidates could campaign in a couple of dozen major cities (all failing miserably, and governed by Democrats, of course), as well as the twelve states where the majority of voters live. The rest of the country — the eighty percent of America’s counties that Trump won — would be left high and dry, forever.
We recall that the Electoral College was adopted in order specifically to convince smaller and less-populated states to support the Constitution in the first place. It’s a slam dunk that the required 38 states would never support a constitutional amendment granting Hillary’s passionate wish.

Why All The Fuss
About Kavanaugh?

Well, the Supreme Court amends the Constitution all the time.
Consider: Article Four of the Constitution guarantees to the states a “Republican form of government,” but in 1962, the swaggering Warren Court declared the Republican form of the U.S. Senate to be unconstitutional when enacted in the states. The court thus required that state senate districts be apportioned with equal populations in each. Now, if this principle were applied to the U.S. Senate, the states of North Dakota, Alaska, Vermont, and Wyoming would have to join forces in order to get just one senate seat between them. But no problem! A profound change that the states never would have approved as a constitutional amendment was imposed on them by a simple decision of the Supreme Court.
Well, why not abolish the Electoral College by judicial fiat?
Enter Judge Brett Kavanaugh. He believes in obeying the Constitution as written, not the Constitution he would have written had he been in Philadelphia 231 years ago. But there are four justices on the Court today who take a different view; with one more justice of like mind, they could change the U.S. Constitution by a wave of the wand in the same fashion that the Warren Court changed the constitutions of every state in the union. Their allies on the Left are well aware that their victories in the Court — on abortion, on same-sex marriage, and countless other issues — could be reversed with the same ease that they were achieved: by a majority of the justices of the Supreme Court.
Let’s face it — for the Left, Hillary is expendable, but her nonstop whining accurately reflects the resentment and hatred of millions on the Left for the reality that they never thought could come to pass: she lost. And now the Left rages at the logical consequence of that fact — Donald Trump won, and he is nominating Supreme Court justices that they cannot abide. They want an activist Supreme Court that will overturn every section of the Constitution that limits their power. And that’s why there might well be a string of anonymous Hillary Diehards showing up every ten days until Christmas claiming that Brett Kavanaugh did something awful to them in grade school. This charade parade is all they have left.
Of course, their target is not only Kavanaugh. It’s a warning. The same sully-and-ruin campaign will be directed at any nominee whom Trump dares to name to the Court.
Leftists will always do whatever they can get away with. They always have. To paraphrase Lenin, “whatever furthers the revolution is ethical.” And there are 49 Democrats in the U.S. Senate who agree with him, so stay tuned.

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