The Council has spoken, the votes have been cast and the results are in for this week’s Watcher’s Council match-up.
I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. – President James Madison
A republic, if you can keep it. – Benjamin Franklin
Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary. – Reinhold Neibuhr
This week we had tie in the Council category between Bookworm Room’s The single most important election issue in 2016: The Constitution! and Joshuapundit’s The Clinton E-Mail Scandal And How It Will End.
As Watcher, I get paid the big bucks to break ties like this.
My piece detailed exactly how Mrs. Clinton broke the law, endangered national security and discussed where the current FBI investigation is as well as my prediction for how this all will end, which may startle some people!
Andrea’s articulate and well written article explored in great detail her belief that the real issue in the coming election is strengthening our Constitution. Not only did I vote for it myself, but she definitely wins the honors this week as far as I’m concerned! Here’s a slice:
“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.”
— Presidential Oath of Office
In 1992, James Carville famously hung a sign in Bill Clinton’s Little Rock campaign headquarters pointing campaign workers to Clinton’s most powerful campaign message: “The economy, stupid!” Today, in the run-up to the 2016 election, conservatives need to keep hammering their most powerful campaign message: “The Constitution!” After eight years of Obama’s savage disregard for the Constitution, the 2016 election is America’s last chance to return our Constitution to its rightful, and central, place in American politics.
In this essay, I hope to establish three things:
I. That the Constitution is a unique document that empowers individuals over government, making it the bedrock of American exceptionalism;
II. That Barack Obama has significantly damaged the Constitution’s preeminent position in American government, creating a dangerous imbalance in favor of an unlimited executive backed by a powerful, all-encompassing bureaucracy; and
III. That we must choose our next president very carefully in order to redress this imbalance lest we wake up one morning to find ourselves living under a permanent de facto dictatorship.
After winning the Revolution, America’s Founding Fathers had the unique opportunity to build a government from the ground up. Being educated men, they had several models from which to choose. They could replicate the British model, with its monarch, hereditary aristocracy, and House of Commons. They could attempt a commune of the type that the Pilgrims tried in 1620. Although that attempt almost killed the Pilgrims, the utopian impulse towards communism has continued to tempt revolutionaries ever since. They could try to put Plato’s Republic into effect and appoint themselves as the ideal Platonic ruling elite. They could even try the Judges approach from the Old Testament. They rejected all of those models.
The Founders’ genius lay in recognizing that all previous government models had a pyramidal structure, with power held only at the very top of the pyramid. This was certainly true of Britain which, beginning in 1066, had vested complete power in a hereditary monarchy. It took centuries for the aristocracy and landed gentry to chip away at the monarch’s authority, starting with the Magna Carta (1215) and finishing with the Glorious Revolution’s Bill of Rights (1689).
Ironically, thanks to the American Revolution, Parliament concluded that the British Bill of Rights, many parts of which the Founders incorporated wholesale into our Constitution, limited only the monarchy, but had no controlling effect on Parliament. In other words, Britain emerged from the American Revolution as pyramidal as before, only with Parliament at the top of the pyramid, not the King.
This same pyramidal pattern held true for all other governments the Founder’s studied. No matter the outcome of history’s wars and revolutions, government’s fundamental structure remained unchanged: Power resided at the top, with those citizens excluded from power enjoying limited freedoms and privileges — and those only at the whim of the ruling class. The Founders would therefore have been unsurprised to see that the 20th century’s communist revolutions, despite destroying the old ruling classes entirely, created governments no different from the ones they replaced – power was at the top, with the apparatchiks, and the people groaned in bloody servitude under what was just another self-appointed elite.
To prevent the tyranny of the elite – any elite – the Founders created an entirely new government structure, one never before tried: They broke governing authority into its constituent parts (legislative, executive, and judicial) and divvied that power amongst three different, but equal, branches of government. No government branch could act alone. The theory was that each branch would guard its power jealously, thereby keeping either of the other two branches from becoming dominant. These “checks and balances,” integral to our Founder’s design, were an elegant example of the old idea that it takes two thieves (or, in this case, three) to keep an honest bargain.
The Founders also went beyond creating a radically new government structure that diffused power throughout government to prevent the inevitable tyranny that flows from vesting all government power in one person or collective. In 1791, they enacted the Bill of Rights.
The philosophy underlying our Bill of Rights is not found in the Constitution itself, but in the Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Throughout history, many have called themselves revolutionaries, but they are invariably just as power-hungry as the governments they’ve overthrown. The Founders, however, were true revolutionaries. Their new paradigm holds that a majority of citizens can voluntarily elect a legislature and abide by its laws; accept the executive’s enforcement of the laws (including punishments); and allow the judiciary to interpret the laws, if they have concluded that a particular set of political figures will best protect their life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. If, however, the majority of the people conclude that this same government no longer serves them well, they may reconstitute the government to make it more to their liking.
Being cautious men, and with Parliament’s gutting of the British Bill of Rights as a grim example of government overreach, the Founders did not feel that just a Declaration and Constitution were adequate protections for individuals. In 1791, the Founders enacted the Bill of Rights, explicitly spelling out the inviolate sphere of rights that each person possesses independent of government. Ironically, many of the rights are verbatim restatements of the same British Bill of Rights that Parliament had only recently nullified.
America’s Bill of Rights represents a complete inversion of the traditional power pyramid. In America, the governing power rests, not at the highest point of the pyramid, with kings and politicians, but in its base, which is comprised of individuals who possess inherent, unalienable rights. Because these individual rights are so important, they bear repeating here:
Amendment 1 – Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Amendment 2 – Right to Bear Arms.
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.
Amendment 3 – Quartering of Soldiers.
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
Amendment 4 – Search and Seizure.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Amendment 5 – Trial and Punishment, Compensation for Takings.
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
Amendment 6 – Right to Speedy Trial, Confrontation of Witnesses.
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
Amendment 7 – Trial by Jury in Civil Cases.
In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
Amendment 8 – Cruel and Unusual Punishment.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
Amendment 9 – Construction of Constitution.
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
Amendment 10 – Powers of the States and People.
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.
Much more at the link.
In our non-Council category, the winner was Doug Ibendahl at Republican News Watch with National Review just handed Donald Trump the Election submitted by Puma By Design.
Mr. Ibendahl, a Chicago attorney was former General Counsel of the Illinois Republican Party. His contention is the the National Review,Weekly Standard and various movement conservatives HQ’d in New York City and Washington who just gratuitously attacked Donald Trump did him a huge favor by emphasizing his bona fides as an independent outsider unconnected to the GOP establishment. Based on the polls, he may very well be right.
Here are this week’s full results. The Noisy Room was unable to vote this week, but was not subject to the usual 2/3 vote penalty for not voting:
- *First place with 3 1/3 votes! – Bookworm Room – The single most important election issue in 2016: The Constitution!
- Second place with 2 1/3 votes – Joshuapundit – The Clinton E-Mail Scandal And How It Will End
- Third place with 1 2/3 votes – Puma By Design – FDNY Comm Despatches Two Crews to Shovel His Walkway as the Rest of NYC Waits (Revised) to Get Plowed Out
- Fourth place *t* with 1 1/3 votes – Fausta’s Blog – Colombia: Good luck with the U.N. monitors
- Fourth place *t* with 1 1/3 votes – The Daley Gator – Why YES, some cultures ARE better than others
- Fifth place *t* with 2/3 vote – VA Right! – Analysis: GOP Nominations 2008, 2012 and 2016 – Polls vs Actual Outcome + My Prediction
- Fifth place *t* with 2/3 vote – The Razor – The Detectorists – An Unearthed Gem of British Comedy
- Sixth place *t* with 1/3 vote – Nice Deb – El Chapo Found With ‘Fast and Furious’ Rifle Capable of Taking Down Helicopter
- Sixth place *t* with 1/3 vote – The Independent Sentinel – White House Pushes for Tyranny in 2016
- *First place with 2 votes! – Doug Ibendahl/Republican News Watch –National Review just handed Donald Trump the Election submitted by Puma By Design
- Second place *t* with 1 2/3 votes – Angelo Codevilla/American Spectator – America’s Ruling Class – And The Perils of Revolution submitted by Joshuapundit
- Second place *t* with 1 2/3 votes – Sultan Knish – Conservatism Isn’t Dead submitted by The Independent Sentinel
- Third place with 1 1/3 votes – National Review – Conservatives Against Trump submitted by Nice Deb
- Fourth place *t* with 1 vote – Bruce Kessler/Maggie’s Farm – Ted Cruzsubmitted by Bookworm Room
- Fourth place *t* with 1 vote – Twitchy.Com – Latest IG report on Hillary Clinton’s emails is DEVASTATING submitted by The Watcher
- Fifth place *t* with 2/3 votes – David Nye/Real Clear Defense – 5 Legendary Battleships from U.S. History submitted by GrEaT sAtAn”S gIrLfRiEnD
- Fifth place *t* with 2/3 votes – Kausfiles – 8 Theories in Search of an Establishment submitted by The Glittering Eye
- Fifth place *t* with 2/3 votes – Nate Silver/Five Thirty Eight.Com – One Big Reason To Be Less Skeptical Of Trump submitted by The Watcher
- Sixth place with 1/3 vote – Mexidata – Argentina’s Ambitious New Security Plan shows Real Promise submitted by Fausta’s Blog
See you next week!
Make sure to tune in every Monday for the Watcher’s Forum and every Tuesday morning, when we reveal the week’s nominees for Weasel of the Week!
And remember, every Wednesday, the Council has its weekly contest with the members nominating two posts each, one written by themselves and one written by someone from outside the group for consideration by the whole Council. The votes are cast by the Council and the results are posted onFriday morning.
It’s a weekly magazine of some of the best stuff written in the blogosphere and you won’t want to miss it… or any of the other fantabulous Watcher’s Council content.