Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Checking in with the Constitution Party

One blogger noted — sorry, I can't remember who it was to give proper credit — that during the debates of the presidential and vice presidential candidates, the poor old U.S. Constitution was hardly mentioned. If so, that was negligent and cowardly. The nature and meaning of the Constitution, what it allows the federal government to do and what it prohibits it from doing, has been part of the national question since the founding of the Republic. You could make a good case that it has never been more important than in this miserable election year, with both McCain and Obama (but especially the latter) seeming to recognize no limits to federal jurisdiction.

That apparently dwindling band of Americans who might be loosely called constitutionalists — those who believe that the central government is limited to certain enumerated powers, and has no business monkeying around outside those specific duties — isn't likely to get much joy out of this season.

Many constitutionalists call themselves libertarians, and while libertarians' hearts are in the right place on limiting the reach of the federal leviathan, I think they carry their anti-government, rugged individualist ideas to ridiculous extremes. But one party that kept faith with the letter and spirit of the Constitution is not avowedly libertarian, and while it is definitely on the fringe, it might be important in ways greater than its numbers or present influence would suggest. It's the Constitution Party, which has nominated Chuck Baldwin and Darrell Castle for president and VP, respectively.

I must admit to not having given Chuck Baldwin the attention he perhaps deserves. (There are just only so many hours in the day.) But with the country racing toward the wall, it might be time to take a closer look.

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Here is the Baldwin-Castle web site.

My first reaction when pulling up the site is: What an ugly mess. The splash page design looks like one of those mailbox stuffers where franchise businesses proclaim, "10% DISCOUNT WHEN YOU MENTION THIS AD!" The Baldwin site almost shouts, "Cuckoo corner!"

Let us try to ignore that, and click the tab "Issues." Here are a few highlights among Baldwin's positions, with comments by your blogger.
The "Baldwin-Castle Doctrine": No foreign government or world government body or entity, not even an ally or neighbor of the US is allowed to own any portion of US roads, airports, homes, buildings, lands, waters, resources (oil, gas, precious metals, minerals, etc,), religious facilities (no matter what faith), stocks, bonds, US treasury notes, businesses, banks, military bases or military assets or manufacturing facilities in the US regardless of how much the foreign governments donate to the political campaigns or private fortunes of US officials, elected or bureaucratic, or even to the US treasury.
Well intentioned, and a worthwhile goal to work for. But right now, thanks to our hapless past economic policies, foreign governments own nearly half of our national debt. If we were to insist that they sell their Treasury paper, the market repercussions would be catastrophic. Also, the details would be hard to work out. America is still a rookie in the Socialist League, but many European governments have long owned large parts of major companies based there. Would none of those companies then be allowed to buy any interest in U.S. companies? Would all those companies that have offices and facilities in the U.S. have to sell up or leave? That would be a hard belt in the chops to our economy, the last thing we need at the moment.
Education: I oppose enactment of any federal laws subsidizing or regulating the education of children. [But later] I wholeheartedly support the unimpeded right of parents to provide for the education of their children in the manner they deem best, including homeschooling or private or religious instruction. My Administration will oppose any and all federal legislation that would interfere with or restrict that liberty. I support equitable tax relief for families whose children do not attend government schools.
Yes, education is one of those areas that should be under state and, especially, local control. The federal bureaucrats add no value and diminish administration tailored to local conditions and offering a variety of methods throughout the nation. However, tax relief for parents whose children do not go to government schools is a form of subsidy. I'm not against it, but let's be honest about it.
Foreign policy: President Bush should have supported Ron Paul's bill, H.R. 3076, the September 11 Marque and Reprisal Act of 2001. This is the constitutional way to deal with rogue terrorist organizations. This is the way President Thomas Jefferson responded to the Barbary pirates.

According to Congressman Paul, a letter of marque and reprisal is a constitutional tool specifically designed to give the President the authority to respond with appropriate force to those non-state actors who wage aggression against the United States while limiting his authority to only those responsible for the atrocities of that day. Such a limited authorization is consistent with the doctrine of just war and the practical aim of keeping Americans safe while minimizing the costs in blood and treasure of waging such an operation.
Good as far as it goes. But the foreign policy plank completely avoids discussion of threats from state actors. What should we do about Iran? A resurgent, aggressive Russia? Et cetera. Very tough questions to deal with and no easy answers. But such questions are one of the most important things we expect a president to take on. Baldwin's silence is loud.
Immigration: We will seal our borders and ports. I support construction of a fence to secure our borders, but a Baldwin Administration will not wait for the construction of a fence in order to seal and secure our borders. We will utilize whatever force is necessary, including regular military personnel, to effectively secure our borders immediately. It is lunacy to send troops and National Guard half way around the world to protect the borders of Iraq while leaving our own borders wide open.

There will be no "path to citizenship" given to any illegal alien. That means no amnesty. Not in any shape, manner, or form. I would not allow tax dollars to be used to pay for illegal aliens' education, social services, or medical care. As President, I would end birthright citizenship for illegal aliens. There would be no "anchor babies" during my administration.
This, and other language about immigration, is far stronger and more sensible than anything issuing from the orifices of our two major candidates. Unfortunately, he is completely fixated on illegal immigration. That's only part of the problem. It ignores the overpopulation, social tension, and balkanization caused by huge numbers of perfectly legal immigrants, which the government and its globalist puppet masters promote to dilute and ultimately marginalize the indigenous European-descended population in a "divide and conquer" policy. Baldwin seems completely clueless about the calculated race replacement policies that will make the United States into a Third World country if not stopped.
Defense: Supporting the troops' means putting their interests and America's interests first and not in needlessly endangering them by engaging in "policeman off the world" military adventures all over the world. We should be the friend of liberty everywhere, but the guarantor and provisioner of ours alone. As President I will never deploy American troops into combat without a declaration of war by Congress, pursuant to Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. Under no circumstances will the Baldwin Administration commit U.S. forces to serve under any foreign flag or command. I am adamently opposed to any New World Order, and will reject U.S. participation in or a relinquishing of command to any foreign authority.

In a Baldwin Administration, the armed forces of the United States will always serve under the flag of the United States and the mission of our armed forces will always be to provide for the common defense for these United State of America.
Excellent. Did I write this? No, I'd like to think I'd have caught the typo. And I support greater federal spending on copyediting. A Baldwin Administration should sponsor a Full Employment for Editors bill.
The "sanctity of life": The pre-born child, whose life begins at fertilization, is a human being created in God's image. The first duty of the law is to prevent the shedding of innocent blood. It is, therefore, the duty of all civil governments, and that certainly includes the office of the President of the United States, to secure and to safeguard the lives of the pre-born. I affirm the God-given legal person hood of all unborn human beings, without exception. In addition to guaranteeing the legal person hood of the unborn, Ron Paul's Sanctity of Life Act, which I wholeheartedly support, would strip the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in all cases of abortion in accordance with the U.S. Constitution, Article III, Section 2. …

Under my administration, we could end legal abortion in a matter of days, not decades. And if Congress refuses to pass Dr. Paul's bill, I will use the constitutional power of the Presidency to deny funds to protect abortion clinics.
No sale. Well, mostly no.

Certainly the abortion issue should not have been decided by the Supreme Court, on a ridiculous "right to privacy" basis, or any other that I can see that makes it a federal case. Having Roe v. Wade imposed by a court has created no end of divisiveness and bitterness. It is completely understandable for abortion opponents to be angry about this "legislation from the bench."

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But. The Supreme Court has no more business outlawing abortion than it does making it a right. This should not be a judicial matter at all, other than one of narrowly interpreting legislation about it.

So who should decide about the legality of abortion? Jurisdiction should be at the state level at the very most, and possibly on a county level. To repeat: decided by legislation, not courts. It recognizes that there is an unbridgeable difference of opinion that is somewhat geographically sorted.

No one needs legislation that allows them to not undergo abortion, but my proposal would undoubtedly mean that some women would have to travel to another jurisdiction if they wanted the procedure. That's why I am inclined to favor a "county option" system, like Texas has (or used to have, I don't know the current status) for selling booze. Presumably a woman who chose abortion would have to travel in some cases, which imposes an extra burden, but a county system would probably reduce that to the unavoidable minimum. It's not an ideal solution, but we accept that laws about many things differ from state to state, which is in line with constitutional principles.

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I realize, of course, that for Chuck Baldwin and many others abortion is a moral issue, and he would argue that moral issues are not subject to a mere vote count. But for many it is not, or not necessarily, a moral issue. And if we value liberty, we have to acknowledge that people can disagree about whether something falls under an absolute moral rule.

The Constitution Party's platform, including many details I haven't touched on, is worth reading as a stimulus to thought. The country would be better for it if the party were taken seriously, although the mainstream media wouldn't dream of it — one more good reason. As presently embodied in the Chuck Baldwin candidacy, the worst that can be said of the party is that it is not fully consistent and sidesteps some important problems; the best is that, unlike the Republicrats, it takes U.S. sovereignty and the federalist system seriously.

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5 comments:

yih said...

Well, already voted for Baldwin (three weeks ago in fact) but you're right, that's an internet eyesore!
I agree, the Supreme Court should overturn Roe v. Wade and let the issue revert to State Law (as it was up to that point).
Sadly that would make the advocates on both sides go (well even more) bonkers then they already are.
But in reality if it were struck down not much would change. I could see Governor Ahh-nolt publicly signing the 'Cullyfornia pwo-choice ahhct' into law less than 48 hours after the announcement that Roe v. Wade had been overturned.
That said, I find Baldwin a disappointment for another reason, he's about as enthusiastic a cam-pain-er (the phonetic spelling was fully intentional) as the late Pat Paulson.
A quote from one of his News With Views columns:
''*Disclaimer: I am currently a candidate for President of the United States on the Constitution Party ticket. Click here for my official campaign web site.''
Even ''Do not eat this blog'' is a better (and funnier) one.
I've heard him do some half-hearted radio interviews as well. And that's all.
Even Nader puts on the show of wanting the job!
As they say in internet-land, EPIC FAIL.

Rick Darby said...

Hey, YIH, good to hear from you again.

But look -- if the people of California as a whole want legal abortion, and the people of Tennessee as a whole want to outlaw it, well, both seem to me better than having it decided for them by the courts.

Still, I'd prefer it to be even more localized than that. California and Texas (oh, yeah, Alaska -- they made that a state?) -- are pretty big. Counties (a uniquely American institution, I believe) can still be useful.

Howard J. Harrison said...

Thank you for the informative review of the Baldwin candidacy. It would seem that Mr. Baldwin would make an imperfect president whose heart was in the right place. Inasmuch as Mr. Baldwin will almost certainly not be elected, however, his imperfections may not matter much. His candidacy is a solid, respectable, countable repository for protest votes like the one I mean to cast.

I agree that Mr. Baldwin's presentation on the Web site is sloppy. Your blog post is better written than his statement of principles is.

leadpb said...

Rick,

Thanks for this informative post. I had only heard of this party a few months ago and have been lazily waiting to fortuitously run into something such as you have written.

I know you are especially keen on aesthetics and I share this possibly genetic peculiarity. It disturbs me especially when I must reconcile the importance or appeal of something against packaging that is just awful. As you note, Baldwin's site is a bit of an eyesore. In this he appears to be aiming for that demographic that is naturally more attracted to his product-- red state denizens whose strong views on some topics might be as narrow or unconsidered as his own.

On a bit of a tangent, I think a great deal can be deduced from the appearance of a home page or a dust jacket. Often a few seconds are all that is needed for me to assess the color scheme and graphics and decide to leave or stay and browse. I look for signs of appreciation of natural history, for instance, or anything remotely arcane on any subject. But it is rare to find these qualities in combination with conservative ideas. It is one of the reasons I always enjoy taking in your site's ideas and visuals.

At the other end, aesthetically, is a site like Auster's, which has an austerity (not a pun) and utility that is very appealing somehow. But sites that flash and bounce and busy the eye (or the ear!) in seeming desperation are not for me. I hope they are an inviting apparition for others who are looking for the deeper waters of conservatism.

Rick Darby said...

Howard, thanks. If I were not in a state whose electoral votes might be critically important, I would have no hesitation in writing in Ron Paul or going with Chuck Baldwin. And I hope there will be lots of protest votes like yours -- and that they're counted and made public (not a sure thing).

Leadpb, What do you mean disclaiming a very good pun like "Austerity"?

I was going to write more about the appearance and architecture of the Baldwin-Castle web site, but didn't want to digress in what was going to be a long post. Nevertheless, just looking at the site told me: this is not a serious candidacy.

Messrs. Baldwin and Castle may be very intelligent people, but they are short on political savvy if they present their message in this slipshod way. There are many highly talented web designers (like Fresh Design studio, which created the banner for this blog) available for very reasonable fees who could have put together a smashing package for the campaign. That they settled for a presentation that looks like it was produced by a basement-dwelling college student with a hangover suggests that Baldwin and Castle understand more about making debater's points than the multi-dimensional world of politics.