Saturday, July 7, 2018

May You Live In Interesting Times (No. 4)

If you're new here, this is a weekly column consisting of letters written to my grandchildren (who exist) and my great-grandchildren (who aren't here yet) — the Stickies — to haunt them after they become grups and/or I'm dead.


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Irregularly Appearing Imaginary Guest Stars
Marie-Louise -- My beautiful muse and back scratcher 
Iggy -- My designated Sticky
Dana -- My designated gentlereader

"I would not look to the U.S. Constitution if I were drafting a constitution..."                                                                           Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 85  


Dear (eventual) Stickies & Great-Grandstickies,

As you (and my gentlereaders) may have noticed, I mostly confine my political musings to making fun of politics, politicians, and/or bureauons that work for the gummits or The Gummit.

[For the record: I'm not an anarchist of any stripe; I acknowledge the need for government and the fact that not all bureaucrats, in fact, probably/hopefully, are not bureauons.]

However, the current kerfuffle over the Donald's impending choice of the next Supreme concerns me enough to activate my preachy/opinionated side. You've been warned.


When I was a callowyute I was taught that The Gummit (which at the time was called the federal government) consisted of three coequal branches: Executive, Legislative, and Judicial.

I was told that this was a feature, not a bug, and that divvying up the power provided us with a system of "checks and balances" to ensure maximum freedom, minimum government.

Congress, our freely chosen representatives, would create the Rules&Regs and decide how the dough was spent.

The president and the minions of the Executive branch would enforce the Rules&Regs, spend the dough, and take care of the day to day stuff.

The Judicial branch would determine if the Rules&Regs had been violated, and if so, administer the appropriate penalty. Penalties for a given offense are spelled out ahead of time, you can't make 'em up as you go.

Sounded/sounds good to me.


The system above is based on a set of ground rules called the Constitution of the United States of America. It not only spells out how the federal government is to be structured it spells out what the three branches are permitted to do. Any powers not granted -- are not granted.

And of course, the fundamental rights of all Citizens of the Republic are spelled out as well.

The Supreme Court, made up of nine judges that are appointed for life (tenure on steroids) so they're beholden to no one, has the final say on ground rules disputes.


Still sounds good to me. But, why are the kids on the left side of the playground freaking out over the fact a Supreme Court judge has just resigned and the Donald, who hangs out on the right side of the playground (well, sorta/kinda), per the rules, gets to choose a new judge?

Well, at least nominate one, he or she has to be approved by the Senate. The United States Senate, wherein every state of the republic has two duly elected representatives -- no matter how large, or small, or rich, or poor, or powerful, or weak a given state happens to be.

Which also sounds good to me, in fact downright clever... and fair. So why...

[Aw c'mon! Everybody knows that! Trump can, and will, nominate a conservative. This'll mean the court's got five conservative judges and four liberal ones.]

Exactly, Dana, and that's my point. 

[Huh?]



Liberals, particularly the ones that call themselves progressives, believe that if you don't like what the Constitution says about something, you can just put an updated spin on it and do what you want -- as long as you're on the side of the angels. 

The end justifies the means as long as you mean well. What could possibly go wrong?

It's hard to change the ground rules, on purpose, and that's as it should be. In order to keep a democracy from devolving into a mobocracy or a tyranny, it's necessary to make it hard for a well-meaning (or malevolent) majority to change the ground rules to avoid the law of unintended consequences. 

This protects a given minority from a given majority, and a given majority from itself.



Our good friends on the left are freaking out because, as usual, they're determined to pass whatever laws they deem necessary to save us from ourselves. If they have to do it by end-running the Constitution and Congress by legislating from the bench, so be it. 

But without a majority of the Supremes on their side, or at least someone like our soon to be retired Justice Kennedy to act as a swing vote, this is much more difficult.

After all, when you're trying to save the world who has time to wait for Congress to pass the appropriate laws, much less change the Constitution? If you need to bypass the democratic process to save our democracy, as long as you're certain you're right, a lefty's gotta do what a lefty's gotta do.

If they don't draw a red line, the next thing you know important matters that need to be decided on, but that aren't mentioned in the Constitution, will be left up to the individual states. Poppa loves you.

Have an OK day.


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©2018 Mark Mehlmauer   (The Flyoverland Crank)

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