Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Constitution Goes Out of Style

It looks like the principles of the United States Constitution, and thus the principles of liberty and limited government, are now considered to be taboo in the newly emerging governments of the world:

In 1987, on the Constitution’s bicentennial, Time magazine calculated that “of the 170 countries that exist today, more than 160 have written charters modeled directly or indirectly on the U.S. version.”

A quarter-century later, the picture looks very different. “The U.S. Constitution appears to be losing its appeal as a model for constitutional drafters elsewhere,” according to a new study by David S. Law of Washington University in St. Louis and Mila Versteeg of the University of Virginia.

When I read this I was reminded of the Canadian television show Kevin Spencer in a scene where Kevin’s father, Percy, confronts a border guard at the US-Canadian border.  When the border guard gives reverence to the US Constitution in order to justify his search of contraband, Percy retorts, “So what?  It’s just a fucking piece of paper.  It’s not like you guys actually follow it.”   Percy Spencer, by the way, was a character who embodied everything that could go wrong with a person, being perpetually on welfare when he wasn’t in prison, constantly smoking and drinking, and always cheating on his wife whenever he could.  And let’s not forget about his IQ, which was probably in the legal range for being retarded.  So if a legally retarded moocher from Canada can grasp this fundamental truth, so can you.

Indeed, that is the attitude of the entire Federal government and the entire spectrum of the political groups, from the Left to the Right.  They revere the United States Constitution but only the parts they like.  When it comes to limiting government in ways in which they do not like, often times people will flat out ignore it.  And there are always politicians who have no problem ignoring the US Constitution in order to meet the demand of the dumb masses.

So what does the rest of the world have to do with the fact that nobody here adheres the the constitutional principles of limited government?  Well, for starters, if we are supposed to be an example of freedom and representative democracy, we’re doing a bad job.  We’re like all those wonderful sports athletes who are caught cheating on their wives.  We constantly lecture the rest of the world on the principles of liberty and freedom but when they come through our airports, they are groped by thugs in uniform, they are constantly monitored by law enforcement via GPS devices and data stream monitoring, and they see that we love bombing the ever-loving Hell out of foreign nations for no real good reason.

What I found laughable about that article is their explanation of why this is occurring:

There are lots of possible reasons. The United States Constitution is terse and old, and it guarantees relatively few rights. The commitment of some members of the Supreme Court to interpreting the Constitution according to its original meaning in the 18th century may send the signal that it is of little current use to, say, a new African nation. And the Constitution’s waning influence may be part of a general decline in American power and prestige.

In an interview, Professor Law identified a central reason for the trend: the availability of newer, sexier and more powerful operating systems in the constitutional marketplace. “Nobody wants to copy Windows 3.1,” he said.

In a television interview during a visit to Egypt last week, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the Supreme Court seemed to agree. “I would not look to the United States Constitution if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012,” she said. She recommended, instead, the South African Constitution, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the European Convention on Human Rights.

The rights guaranteed by the American Constitution are parsimonious by international standards, and they are frozen in amber. As Sanford Levinson wrote in 2006 in “Our Undemocratic Constitution,” “the U.S. Constitution is the most difficult to amend of any constitution currently existing in the world today.” (Yugoslavia used to hold that title, but Yugoslavia did not work out.)

So let me get this straight.  Because our Founding Fathers knew that a strong central government was essentially tyranny and therefore limited the potential for it to be modified (unless the leaders just ignore it), they made sure it was incredibly difficult to change it.

There is a reason that a system of government and the laws it enforces should be static: because if you have limited government, you have no need to change how things are done.  The whole reason for the disdain for the static nature of the Constitution has to do with the fact that the Statists, who presume to be our gods, want to be able to control every aspect of our life.  And in order to do that, you need a government that can change its directives and objectives on a whim.

The entire static nature of the Constitution speaks to its timeless support of basic liberty and human rights.  And while something more malleable may work well in other nations, I feel nothing but disdain for the people who support that in our nation.

Ultimately though, I firmly believe that the Constitution is out of style because of our lack of adherence to it and our own status as the great bully of the world, not because the Constitution is not a living, breathing document.