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« It's A Scandal Much Worse Than A Lane Closure In New Jersey | Main | GOP Congressfolk Describe Obamacare Plans »
February 11, 2014

The Danger Of Masking Personal Preference As Constitutional Philosophy

Peter Wehner and Michael Gerson are two liberals pretending to be conservatives. They are veterans of the George W. Bush who are working very hard to bring back "compassionate conservatism" and present it as actual conservatism. You can read about Wehner's inability to understand conservatism here, Gerson's announcement that the GOP needs to become more liberal to attract amnestied Hispanics here. Most recently the duo combined to write a long and tedious piece about how conservatives need to give up on the idea of limited government and embrace the supposed constitutional underpinnings of the modern welfare state.

Charles Cooke and Wehner have been engaging in a back and forth about the Wehner/Gerson model for understanding the Constitution.

In his reply to Cooke, Wehner gives up the game that he actually believes in enumerated powers or constitutional restraints on the government.

As for the charge of embracing a “living Constitution”: It is one thing, and I believe quite a problematic thing, for judges to invent and create and impose on the public invented rights. But in the representative democracy the founders created, they certainly believed that within certain parameters the will of the people, ratified in election after election and by Congress after Congress, needed to be taken into account.

So if enough people vote for something often enough the Constitution doesn't matter. This would be the opposite of the point of having a Constitution. Some things are beyond the reach of the majority.

We can talk about the political realities of repealing Social Security another time (spoiler: math will do it for us) but the supposed principle Wehner lays down is not a principle in any recognized sense.

This is my problem with people like Wehner, Gerson and Andrew Sullivan...they conflate their personal views with what is right, necessary and ultimately, constitutional. They then go about privileging their personal predilections with all sorts of protections and erecting hurdles others might overcome to challenge their ideal policies.

Here's my test to determine how serious someone is about the a policy you would like to see either enacted or outlawed that is not supported by the Constitution and then admit it. I don't mean something silly like "I hate broccoli and think it should be outlawed" but something that goes to the heart of your politics and beliefs.

One example is some pro-life people admit the Constitution is silent on abortion and that a Right to Life amendment would be necessary to outlaw it at the federal level. This is a principled position that doesn't assert that using the tools of the left, usurping political power with the judicial.

Personally, I'm very concerned about the encroaching surveillance state. I hate those licence plate readers that police and other government agencies are using. I am very worried about the proliferation of "security" cameras and things like facial recognition software. What I can't do is figure out a legitimate constitutional argument against their use (at least as we currently know they are being used).

Do I think that we should elect people who will minimize, if not eliminate, these kinds of things? Yes because that's a policy question and that's for a elected officials to decide and be held accountable for.

If I took the Wehner/Gerson model I'd go about finding reasons why they should be found unconstitutional. All I'd need is a few nifty quotes from some founders and presto-chango! My preferred outcome wouldn't be the subject of mere politics but a bedrock constitutional principle that you all must respect and adapt to.

No matte what they might say the Wehner/Gerson approach has no limits to it. Why if we can just get enough votes we might be able to pass a law that Wehner/Gerson can no long publish their nonsense. Sure it would violate the First Amendment but according to their "principles" that doesn't matter.

Hey, maybe there approach isn't so bad after all.

Nah, loathe them as I do, my principles are more important to me than they are.

digg this
posted by DrewM. at 11:08 AM

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