Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Seidman's Anti-Constitutionalism: Liberalism vs. the Senate

When Louis Michael Seidman publicly recommend that we give up entirely on the Constitution, there was so much that was wrong with his statement that it was overwhelming.  As much as I want to put together a comprehensive response to his nonsense, I think it is more realistic to start with his first example of the "archaic, idiosyncratic and downright evil provisions" of the bedrock of our republican liberties:
Consider, for example, the assertion by the Senate minority leader last week that the House could not take up a plan by Senate Democrats to extend tax cuts on households making $250,000 or less because the Constitution requires that revenue measures originate in the lower chamber. Why should anyone care? Why should a lame-duck House, 27 members of which were defeated for re-election, have a stranglehold on our economy? Why does a grotesquely malapportioned Senate get to decide the nation’s fate?
This "malapportioned" criticism of our bicameralism is at least as old as early 20th Century Populism (the terrible 17th Amendment) and was adopted by Progressivism, and has remained embraced by Progressivism since progressives realized that direct representation is a beautiful path to progressive oligarchy (if they had studied de Tocqueville more closely, they could've realized this sooner).  Here's Bloomberg.com stating this common liberal criticism in relation to the recent gun ban defeat.
The proposal’s demise, in a 54-46 vote, is a testament to legislators’ continuing fear of the gun lobby. It also illuminates a political equation that grows more unbalanced, especially in the Senate, every year. The votes of Wyoming’s two senators, representing 580,000 citizens, effectively cancel the votes of California’s two senators, representing 38 million. The votes of Illinois, with a population of almost 13 million, are voided by those of Alaska, with little more than 700,000.
Is this genuine ignorance of the purpose of our bicameral system or is it willful obtuseness, cynically counting on the general ignorance of the American system? (What good is public education if it can't be used to make a more servile populace?)  This is EXACTLY why we have a Senate, so that popular opinion can't be swayed to force federal rules on states that don't agree with them. NOTHING is stopping Connecticut from making its own ill-advised gun bans in the wake of Newtown.  If a community-sized state like that can't get behind it, why should we have a federal ruling?

The counties with real communities that live close to the land seem to be more red.
Liberals generally DESPISE the 10th Amendment because it is an affront to centralization of power.  The 10th Amendment is offensive.  You can't force you right ideas on the public without centralization of power.  And liberals know what is good for the country.  And for this reason they often get enraged when their answers can't be imposed at the federal level.

The 17th Amendment is meant to allow the states a chance to protect their.  Look at the arguments against the Senate, and if you take the arguments seriously, the meaningful conclusion is that we should only have the House, because anything other than direct representation is undemocratic and therefore bad.  Progressives think of state sovereignty as antiquated at best, and at worst, racist.

But do you doubt that if the Senate had passed the gun ban that most liberals would have disliked this use of the "malapportioned" Senate when they couldn't get the "correctly" apportioned House to pass it first?  Absolutely not.  Obama is busy shaming conservatives for not letting the liberals to use the Senate to override the rules each state sets for itself.  "Why does a grotesquely malapportioned Senate get to decide the nation’s fate?"

Budget: The House has passed budgets several times since the Republicans took it in 2010.  THe House is supposed to control the purse strings because of its more direct representation. That's the Constitution again for ya. In spite of Seidman criticizing the "grotesque" malapportionment of the Senate, he flatly rejects this principle as silly in the very same paragraph. The House is supposedly closer to the will of the people, and the Democratic Senate has rejected the will of the people repeatedly.

Let's look at a part of that paragraph again:
Why should a lame-duck House, 27 members of which were defeated for re-election, have a stranglehold on our economy? Why does a grotesquely malapportioned Senate get to decide the nation’s fate?
Seidman criticizes that outgoing members of the House get to still vote.  Why should those lame-duck obstacles to liberal domination get all the power, when liberals really ought to be able to override the Constitution and use the "grotesquely malapportioned Senate" to do an end run around the House of direct representation?  Both houses should be at their disposal to impose a progressive agenda on the public!

No, the "grotesquely malapportioned Senate" is one of those "archaic, idiosyncratic and downright evil provisions" of the Constitution, EXCEPT when it is used to override the will of the People for a good cause, like overriding the statutes of those stupid Red States with less crime.  (That's Michael Moore's criticism--why do those stupid red states have most of the guns when they have less crime from which to protect themselves?  Hmm...)  Liberals to the rescue!  They will override local laws for the general good!

Seidman obviously doesn't like that there are so many Republicans in the House, and doesn't mind the "grotesquely malapportioned Senate" subverting them.

But Seidman criticizes the whole concept of having ultimate laws for government written down in the form of a written Constitution.  He argues we can govern based entirely on unwritten traditions and unwritten rules, and yet he seems to want to get rid of the Constitution mainly avoid having to follow our longstanding American traditions and rules whenever it suits progressive purposes.  More on that at another time.

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