So Mark Levin has a new book out and is calling for Constitutional Amendments. How do I know this? Well it certainly wasn’t because I look forward to books by Mark Levin—honestly this man endorsed Rick Santorum (enemy of capitalism and raging psychotic extraordinaire) and never missed a chance to hit Romney. Yeah with conservative and sanity credentials like that in the single most important election that he has ever lived through, can’t imagine why I tend not to take Levin too seriously. But given the amount of press it’s getting in conservative circles I thought I would at least take a look at it and peruse it in Barnes and Noble…and it confirmed all my dislike of Levin, reading just a few pages made me sick…on the surface it has some very conservative principles, but when you only scratch the surface it is not very conservative, not very well thought out, and little more than populist tripe.
So first the good.
He wants to make the commerce clause more limited. Excellent. South Dakota v. Dole, the case that expanded the powers of the government under the commerce clause, was a terrible decision and needs
Did we forget we’re conservatives and we want to limit the power of the federal government?
to be overturned…I’ll come back to why it was terrible in a moment.
He wants to reaffirm the 5th Amendment’s right to private property in very clear terms. Again this is partly in response to the terrible Kelo ruling. I have no problem with this.
He has an Amendment that would allow two-thirds of states to overturn any law passed by Congress. I think this is an excellent check on federal power.
And he wants to overturn the 17th Amendment and make it so that state legislatures and only state legislatures pick Senators. Which is in line with the republican virtues the Founders intended and will eliminate a lot of problems. Legislatures tend to pick more reserved members for positions like this so hacks and shills for unions like Boxer, Feinstein, Reid, Obama, Clinton, Kerry, “Dances with Bullshit” Warren (okay really just about any Democrat that has been in the Senate in the last 50 years) and treasonous scum like McCain stand little chance. You’ll get reserved people, thoughtful people, who are not beholden to polls because they don’t run for reelection and not beholden to campaign contributors for the same reason. The people still have a voice in the House and in choosing the representatives who will pick Senators. This will also lead to better Supreme and Federal Court Justices as the Senate will no longer be party hacks. So no Kagan, no Sotomayor, but you would get a Bork.
However I think it is a major mistake to only leave the option of the Senator to be chosen by the state legislature. I would be more than happy to allow states to pick some combination of the legislature and governor or just the legislature…it ensures more gridlock, fewer ideologues and less of a chance of bleeding heart idiots getting in.
Also I would think that you might want to allow the people to have the right of recall of any Senator. Quite frankly I would love the ability to fire Senators rather than hire them.
Okay those are the good things he suggested. Now let’s go through the terrible tings he suggests…
He suggests sunset dates for all legislation and that all federal departments have to be reauthorized every few years. That sounds nice…but when you think any deeper than how it sounds (which someone who backed Santorum, like Levin, is clearly incapable of even conceiving of) it becomes terrible. From 1913-2013 liberals and progressives controlled the White House and both branches of government for 38 of those years, conservative for only 18 of those years…so over 1/3 of that time with liberals in absolute control…and you want to have Congress be responsible to constantly reauthorize the Department of Defense? Mark, are you insane or just stupid? The Constitution exists because we know that there will be times when the public takes a complete and total loss of its senses and elects idiots. An amendment like this gives idiots more power to simply not reinstitute good laws and continue making bad laws (as Obamacare has shown, a law doesn’t need to be around for long to cause harm).
Better idea: A Constitutional Amendment that Congress must list under what clause or Amendment they are using to have the power to enforce such a bill. That covers the Departments of Defense, Justice, State and Treasury. In this same Amendment it states that any law that uses the necessary and proper clause as justification must have a sunset date and can exist for no longer than 5 years. This variation not only limits the powers of government to its expressly listed powers (and the wiggle room the founders intended the necessary and proper clause to be) without giving free reign to unchecked power grabs
Then Levin says we should change the Amendment process to allow states to amend the constitution with only a two-thirds majority instead of the usual three-fourths. Now take a look at it this way, the three-fourths bar has given us such bad amendments as the 16th (income tax), the 17th (allowing the public to choose Senators), the 18th (prohibition) and the unspeakably stupid 26th Amendment (which gives immature brats the right to vote)*. Yeah let’s lower the bar because we’ve had such great Amendments get through the 3/4ths vote. Levin seems to forget that the terrible worded Equal Rights Amendment (nice in theory, terrible in wording and near carte blanche in the powers it granted because of that really bad wording) got 70% of the states to vote for it. Thanks Mark. Only an idiot thinks that conservatives will always be the majority—the pendulum always swings back and forth and the Constitution needs to be there when progressives who want to give the government more power is a wall against them…not as a tool for them to use! Which is exactly what Levin’s proposed Amendment would eventually be.
Term Limits. Term limits sound so nice…get the idiots out, let fresh blood in. Here’s the problem. Liberals can always find an idiot to vote party line, finding good honest conservatives who are sane to actually run for office is much more difficult (conservatives usually have the good sense to stay away). So all you’ll be doing is for the bad legislators, trading one scoundrel for another and while getting rid of competent people like Issa, Ryan, and Cantor and leaving it open for liberals to take their place. Great idea. It’s even dumber when you consider the revoking of the 17th Amendment makes the entire Senate a check against the kind of corruption and party politics that popular election breeds. Yes term limits on an office where one person holds the entire power of that office makes sense, but not in a body of parliament.
Oh and then Levin wants to put term limits on the Court and allow Congress to over rule the Court. Might as well just disband the court. Congress and the President already have the power to choose who goes on the court and determine how many justices we have, and Congress and the states can overrule the court via Amendment. That’s a lot of check and balances already. There are two reasons why we have bad Supreme Court Justices. The first is because we have popularly elected idiots in the Senate making decisions, but revoking the 17th already fixes that. The 2nd is that Congress and the President have already misused the power they have…above I mentioned South Dakota v. Dole which expanded powers under the commerce clause—it’s time to talk about that case now—that ruling came down only because the Supreme Court had been intimidated by FDR who threatened to pack the court if they didn’t vote as he wanted. So the current checks and balances against the court led to it being intimidated and bullied, which has left a lasting effect in terms of precedence and behavior…and you want to give the President and Congress more power over the court. Why have a court? Levin is just unhappy with the decisions they make, so am I, but like any populist child he simply lashes out without thinking, attacking the symptom while making the disease worse.
And then there is the amendment limiting spending to 17.5% of GDP. Again sounds really nice. So long as we never have a major national disaster or have to fight a war. Yes, we have a spending problem, but this doesn’t help. And I love how he tags it to a figure like GDP…like a liberal economist can’t play with how that number is reached. Whatever happened to a simple balanced budget amendment which has triggers for emergency spending?
And then there is my favorite the Amendment requiring that to vote you have to have an ID. Again something I’m in support of…when it’s a state issue. My problem is with too much government power, and an Amendment like this gives the federal government even more power. Just because something is a great idea for a state, even a necessary idea for all 50 states, does not mean it should be a federal issue…conservatives understand this…idiots who support socialist Santorum do not. But yeah, let’s give the federal government the right to say what does and does not count as an ID, who gets an ID, what barriers and cannot be put up (if you make it a federal issue you’ve just given the government all these powers…I’m sure they’ll never abuse them).
Also a fun part of this Amendment is banning all electronic voting. Yes because an Amendment, something that should guide the nation for at least 100’s of years should institutionalize luddite fears because of problems in the early stages of a new technology…I hate to tell Mark this, any form of voting is subject to fraud, electronic voting may get more press because it’s new and cool, but seriously, an amendment banning it for all time.
The fact of the matter is that for all Levin’s claims to be a conservative many of these amendments do not properly view the nation as a republic where law is higher than anything…but rather show him to be a populist who thinks democracy and the will of the people (hence the term limits, the neutering of the courts, the rapid amendment of the Constitution, and the rapid dismissal of all law through sunset dates). These make the system less stable and more volatile, yes while conservatives are in control it would give us the power to quickly enforce our policies which are more in line with the ideals of the Founders and reality…but the Founders had the good sense to know that what is right is not always popular…and these same mechanisms could easily be used against America if the will of the people shifted. Just ask yourself, if these Amendments were in place in 1978 when Jimmy Carter was in the White House, Democrats controlled the House and Senate, and had complete control of just shy of 30 states (governors and legislatures), controlling 60% of all legislatures, and all other states were divided (no Republican control of all branches of state government). What could Carter and his ilk have done in 2 years? Would there have even been a nation left for Reagan to save? A populist wants power to change things the way they think it should be, but a real conservative asks the all important question of what could their enemy do with that same power? And horrifyingly most of Levin’s Amendments would give too much power to liberals in the end.
Now as I said there were some good ones.
Revoke the 17th Amendment
2/3rd’s check by state on federal law
And I listed two above
Require all laws to list what power granted to Congress the law is being passed under, and anything under the necessary and proper clause has a sunset date.
A Balanced Budget Amendment
I would point out two others that help reaffirm this nation as a Republic not a democracy.
The first would be to replace the 26th Amendment. I’m sorry but of all the 18 year olds I have ever met less than 1% of them were qualified to vote. Most of the people I’ve known in their 20’s aren’t qualified to vote. Science is now telling us the brain doesn’t even stop developing until you’re 25 or 26. The voting age needs to be raised not lowered. If you’re under 30 you do not have the mental capacity or experience to vote. If you want to include a clause that anyone who signs up for military service will be granted the right early, I have no problem with that, but your average 18-29 year old is simply too naïve, too stupid, too immature and too easily persuaded by emotion to be allowed to vote.
The 2nd point I would have is something I don’t think the Founders ever really considered but would agree with if it was put to them. At the signing of the Constitution one of the reasons you had to have 13 states and not just one central government, besides centralized power leads to corruption, is that there was simply too much land and too many people for one government to govern it effectively. You could probably fit the entire population of the U.S. at the signing of the Constitution into modern Los Angeles. And that was too big for one government to control. Now communication and travel have made this somewhat easier…but keep in mind that I think the Founders would have agreed that if there is a minimum population a state needs to have, then there should probably be a maximum number it needs to have before it should break up into two states. I’m thinking around 10 million. I’m sorry but after that point it becomes inefficient to run a state (not to mention that populations this high are usually because of a single large city in the state which siphons welfare money out of the non-city areas to fuel welfare programs and guarantee bought votes). Think of it, two New Yorks, the liberal city we know…but far more reddish upstate New York with red electoral votes, and red Senators. California cut into thirds one state blue, one red, one probably purplish.* Texas which is turning a little blue into two safe red states and a blue one. If you work out the math is this only good news for conservatives in terms of Senate and electoral votes (which is also a strong pro republic idea since it makes it harder to swing as many states). And you wouldn’t have to give the federal government power to split states just state you’re not counting population above 10 million for Congressional seats and electoral college votes…most states would simply choose to split if you put that in place once they went over the 10 million mark. Now I’m more just thinking aloud here, and haven’t worked out the details of how such an amendment would have to be worded, and I’m sure someone out there could even convince me that it’s plain insanity, but it’s just a thought.
Now I admit that my suggestions are even less likely of being adopted than Levin’s but that doesn’t change the fact that his are dangerous to the safety of the union in the long run.
*I realize the current population of California is 38 million and technically that would be cut in 4th’s…but even if the highly unlikely occurred and my suggestions passed, it would be after years of the current population drop in California and I think we’ll see California under 30 million within the next decade.