November 30, 2022

Perception and the Constitutioin

chael Smith

Why is the Constitution of the United States simultaneously powerful and priceless?

The answer is simple.

It isn’t because someone or some authority says or decrees it is, it is because we treat it as if it is powerful and priceless, largely because if it isn’t, our entire system of justice and governance collapses into a smoldering pile at our feet.

Treating the Constitution, the way we do creates the perception that it is supremely valuable.

It is an interesting, but true, exercise in circular reasoning. The Constitution is powerful and priceless because we perceive it is and we perceive it is because it is powerful and priceless.

That would seem to be a logical fallacy. Perhaps by definition, it is – but some philosophies state circular reasoning cannot be avoided in some cases because the arguments always come back to axioms or first principles. In such cases, the circles tend to be very large and do manage to share useful information in determining the truth of the proposition, as is true for the Constitution – it is based on bedrock principles and we have proof throughout its existence that, when followed, it yields results consistent with those principles. Conversely, when it is not followed, the results are inconsistent with our founding principles.

In a very meaningful way, we have been able to test the validity of the Constitution by falsifying the premises surrounding it. We have proof. at falsifiability must be applied to everything flowing from any government that claims to operate under the auspices of our Constitution.

Elections are a pretty good example.

For decades, we believed elections were sacrosanct, free from illegitimate influences and the results were accurate and true, largely because we treated them that way. We didn’t allow any partisan tomfoolery around election procedures and regulations, and we trusted the people who ran the elections and counted the votes – at least until we were given reasons not to trust them.

And now, like a lost reputation, once sullied, it is difficult to get that trust back.

2020 burns in everyone’s mind, but it wasn’t the first time.

The election of 1876 was even more contentious, with Congress exercising its constitutional role as an arbiter of competing electoral slates sent by the states.

The Texas Public Policy Foundation notes:

"The presidential election was close. Only 84 Electoral College votes separated the contenders. Widespread allegations of ballot fraud were claimed by national party chairmen in 11 states, with court challenges lasting into the middle of the year following the election. Changing the results in just two states would flip the election.

The fraud allegations were serious, including dead people voting and votes far in excess of registered voters in some counties. Yet partisan election boards quickly certified the results while local judges, loyal to the political machines that installed them, threw out legal challenges.

No, this isn’t a story about 2020. It’s a story of 1960. U.S. Sen. John F. Kennedy defeated two-term Vice President Richard Nixon in the 1960 presidential election by 303 to 219 electoral votes (with 15 ballots going to Sen. Harry F. Byrd). Nixon "lost” Illinois by 8,858 votes and Texas by 46,257. Had those two narrow losses been overturned, Nixon would have won, and America might not have fought and lost the Vietnam War.”

650 people were charged with election fraud after the 1960 election, but only three were convicted, all given short sentences and JFK was still the president.

As we found out in 2020 when the State of Texas sued Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin alleging the results were tainted by sidestepping state election laws and that disenfranchised Texas voters and again when Texas sued Pennsylvania for changing the election rules in violation of their own state constitution by bypassing the Pennsylvania legislature, the court system, including the Supreme Court, is pretty much worthless in remedying election challenges. All that remains are recounts and audits, but if the ballot pool is polluted before the counting starts, recounts and audits are completely and totally ineffective.

I am aware of no legally actionable evidence that there was fraud in any of the elections after 2020 – but I also have no evidence there wasn’t fraud and corruption that changed the outcome. What I do know is that there was collusion with the media to protect Joe Biden and damage Donald Trump and, as it was in 1960, a swing of 40,000 votes in key states out of over 155.5 million votes could have changed the outcome.

It isn’t so hard to believe that 0.26% of that vote were swayed or incorrectly submitted when spread over 4 or 5 key states (actually, over just a very few counties in those states), especially when the bias was not to even investigate concerns.

Biden trumpets his 81 million votes as if that is a meaningful number, but it isn’t. It’s the Electoral College that matters, and 40,000 votes changed the outcome of the election.

The entire point is that it is the duty and responsibility of the state governments to not only protect and defend the sanctity of elections, but to answer legitimate questions about the policies and procedures leading to the outcomes of elections. To maintain confidence in election integrity, the states have no choice but to respond to all concerns expressed by the public to prove there wasn’t undue influence and adopt policies and procedures to assure complete confidence in the outcomes, Supreme Court or no Supreme Court.

Just repeating the mantra that "the 2020 elections were the most secure in history” without answering the questions from people is simply not enough. It isn’t the duty and responsibility of the public to discover if elections are clean, that falls to the states to prove, something they failed to do in 2020 and 2022.

As with the Constitution, elections are only valuable when everybody, including the responsible parties in each of the several states, treat them that way.
Tim replies:

I disagree. The Constitution, unlike most other such documents in other countries, is powerful and priceless for several key reasons. Other such documents have failed over time, and that is because other such documents did not appeal to the Creator for His blessing, among other things. While the Constitution does not directly invoke God, the assumptions that went into it did. And those assumptions - there is Natural Law, rights are God-given and not man made, the central government should be limited in scope precisely because religion should be strong in the new states, etc. - touch every aspect of the Constitution.

We also have the Bill of Rights which offers a powerful protection from tyranny.

Another great aspect of the Constitution is it does not try to address every aspect of life, but is very limited in scope and thus quite short. Look at the constitutions of other countries! The E.U. constitution is 76,000 words, over ten times as long as the U.S. (at 7,200). It tries to incorporate everything. Of course, the more you pack in the more power the government has.

A big thing is the U.S. Constitution is not a document that delineates what the government should do for people but rather is a document limiting what it can do TO people. That is quite unique in many ways. Yes, the Magna Carta limited the power of the King too, but nowhere nearly as thoroughly or systemically as the U.S. Constitution.

Our Constitution did unique things like guarantee the right to own firearms, or guarantee the right to speak freely, no matter how offensive those in power find the speech, or the right to be secure in your person and effects and home. It guaranteed the right to worship as you saw fit. These were revolutionary ideas at the time.

The U.S. Constitution was about creating a relatively weak central government and enshrining the authority of the individual states. That too is different than most other countries. Most other constitutions are about empowering governments.

Today that document has lost much of it's luster, primarily because we haven't followed it for a long time.

Shoot; the "right of judicial review" isn't even Constitutional; SCOTUS simply granted itself that power in Marbury v. Madison. We've let the Supreme Court act as little dictators ever since.

Also the bureaucracy was not mentioned in the Constitution, but it was deemed necessary for the job the President had to do. Now it's the largest branch of government and has the power to make laws. That is a gross violation of the intent of the framers.

The enumerated powers did not grant the government the authority to give out student loans (or forgive them), nor to give money to the poor, nor to fund healthcare. It did not say anything about "equity" or race relations. It did say something about equal justice under the law, something that Affirmative Action violates.

I could go on but the point is made. We stopped following the Constitution a long time ago. The Civil War pretty much killed it, and the Progressive era laid it in it's grave.

But it was a very unique document, a bright shining moment in human history.

But you are right in that any law, or anything else, for that matter, requires human acceptance and obeisance. When one stops those the situation becomes dire. Revolutions are born of a refusal to accept and obey the law.

As for elections, I agree. There have been very bad ones over time. The election of 1860 was what precipitated the Civil War, for example. Lincoln could only win because the Democrats ran three separate candidates, splitting the vore and allowing Lincoln to be President. There was a lot of vote fraud in that election all around (mostly against Lincoln). It's alway been a problem.

Which is why the Founders wanted multiple candidates; they wanted the House of Representatives to choose the President. (I would add the Vice President was originally the losing candidate, but that was remedies quickly as it became obvious it was TOO likely to hamstring the Executive Branch.) I would add the President wasn't even elected by popular vote at the beginning; the states chose the electors who voted for him, and often that was done by the legislature, not by a popular referendum.

This is an example of democracy run amok, and why the Founders hated and loathed democracy. They wanted a representative republic, with checks and balances to keep both the public and those in government from running roughshod over everyone else.

The movement toward democracy in America metastasized during the Progressive era, with the direct election of Senators and other such movements. The end result has been the decline in the Constitution as we believe more in the majority rules theory than in the limits and constraints of the Constitution.

Posted by: Timothy Birdnow at 11:50 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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