THE COLUMN: What's the Constitution Among Friends?

Thus spake the great George Washington Plunkitt, of Tammany Hall fame, and it makes a fitting epitaph for the noble experiment in self-government that is, or was, the United States of America. Last week, we discussed the now-explicit anti-constitutionalism and anti-Americanism of the modern Left, and their desire to see it on the ash heap of history, now that it's served its purpose (like John Hurt in Alien) as their incubator and victim. From at least the time of Woodrow Wilson, the Democrats have despised the Constitution—which they think let them down in the battle over slavery—and have sought to kill it by the death of a thousand cuts, some of which have been delivered by the Supreme Court, some by legislation, and some by sheer inanition.

It's time now to begin going into detail about what can be done and what can't. The good news is, there are solutions, or rather, one simple one. The bad news is, it will never be implemented, because the century-long browbeating of the American public via the political establishment and their handmaidens in the news media makes that effectively impossible.

The hell with it.

Free speech, the cornerstone of our Republic, dies in several ways, most obviously by suppression and prohibition. We might term this the punch-in-the-face, "shut up, he explained" approach much beloved by national-socialist fascists and totalitarians everywhere. Aping the unfortunate literary example of most of the Ten Commandments, leftist rules for radicals are filled with thou-shalt-nots, which delight those who instinctively believe that humans are intrinsically guilty and must be punished, even for sins they haven't committed yet. It's not a big leap from "thou shalt not covet they neighbor's ass"—don't blame me, blame the King James Bible—to the clank of prison bars and the eternal solitude of the oubliette. In a proscriptive community, just one look is all it takes.

But it also dies from self-strangulation, which is currently the preferred murder weapon. Having just emerged from Facebook prison for the second time in less than three months (a month in stir for each "offense against community standards," i.e. thou shalt not speak ill of the Chinese or the Ukrainians), and having been permanently anathematized by Twitter for (I believe but cannot prove, since they won't tell me) publicly correcting the mistakes of a certain "presidential historian," which act of lèse-majesté the reigning robots of Tweetville deemed "targeted harassment," I am bloodied but unbowed.

Social media has proven itself a very great evil, and in the coming kingdom needs to be atomized and resurrected as a genuine free-speech platform, not an implement of government and "community" censorship hiding behind the increasingly slipping mask of private enterprise.

This is in contradistinction to the U.S. Constitution, and in particular the Bill of Rights, derided by leftists such as Barack Obama as "a charter of negative liberties" in that it tells the authorities what they may not do, not what you the citizen may not do, but which in reality is the sole guarantor of personal freedom left in these crumbling United States, which almost certainly will not last out this century and is unlikely to make it to its 300th birthday intact. But then, the Left has never really been interested in freedom—intellectual, spiritual, or personal—when it can enforce conformity via the trigger fingers of all of the non-constitutional agencies with which it has supplanted the Declaration of Independence. License, especially the sexually exotic, is what they mean when they say "freedom," and if you don't like it you're a bigot who deserves to be cancelled or charged.

The joke's on them, Barry.

That said, it's becoming increasingly likely that the Left won't be crushed at the polls this November. That the Burden of Brandon may not, in fact, bring the houses of Congress tumbling down around Nancy Pelosi's and Chuck Schumer's ears. At the highest levels, nobody cares who's "President." One guy named Joe signing the bills is as good as another, especially given the fact that the nomenklatura runs the national-security state today, just as it did in the old Soviet Union. A nebbishy nonentity, such as Mr. Thompson in Atlas Shrugged, is just what the moment calls for, to occlude the ugly face of fascism beneath.

Neither side wants to upset the worm-ridden applecart. Resuscitate a dead nuclear deal with Iran without Senate approval? "Forgive" student loans for gender-studies unemployables at taxpayer expense, without bothering to get the House to originate the spending bill? No problem! What part of "our democracy" don't you understand?

It's like the relationship between the CIA and the KGB during the Cold War. Both teams loved the status quo and neither wanted things to change, ever. The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, at which I had a ringside seat, caught them both completely by surprise. But in the cozy modus vivendi of the current Washington racket, an accommodation has long since been reached between "progressivism" (always good) and "conservatism" (always bad) by which things will gradually but inexorably shift leftward until the Last Trump, when the charade collapses under its own weight and we have finally reached the New Jerusalem: one zillion consecutive life terms in Hell.

Freedom ain't what it used to be, and coveting your neighbor's ass has a vastly different meaning nowadays. Much of the population of the territorial United States now hails directly or indirectly from countries and regions that have neither a connection to nor an affinity for 18th-century British or American political institutions and philosophy. Perhaps the worst moment of the wretched George W. Bush presidency came with these spectacularly ill-chosen words in his second inaugural address:

Eventually, the call of freedom comes to every mind and every soul. We do not accept the existence of permanent tyranny because we do not accept the possibility of permanent slavery... In America's ideal of freedom, the exercise of rights is ennobled by service, and mercy, and a heart for the weak.

Revelation 21: it's down there somewhere.

At that, any self-respecting Roman would have laughed out loud and ordered the Tenth Legion into action. (You want to see a country that has never, ever, once fought for freedom? Try China.) Even with "their democracy" crashing around Roman heads during the civil wars between 83 and 44 B.C., it had already lasted half a millennium, and in form if not in substance would last another half-millennium in the west. "A heart for the weak" was the surest way to find your head sitting atop a pike in Parthia or nailed to a tree in the Teutoburg Forest by German barbarians. Nobody ever said gratias vobis ago to the Roman legions bringing civilization to Gaul or Germania at the point of a gladius.

Which brings us back to the Constitution, now as shredded and torn and lying on the floor of the Senate like Caesar on the Ides of March. The easiest and most direct way to restore our American Republic (not "our democracy") is to restore the Constitution in all of its salient particulars, including the restoration of the Ninth and Tenth amendments, a return to the notion of limited central government, the reduction of the Supreme Court to its (very constrained) core powers and duties, and the rollback of the National Security State that began with the American surrender after 9/11. We'll be looking at the details of our Restoration in the coming weeks, what political price we might have to pay to effect it, and whether at this point it's even worth trying.

What's in our future? Civil War? Partition? Amicable divorce? In the meantime, let me leave you with this, from my debut novel, the controversial Exchange Alley, written after my return from Moscow in 1991 and published in 1997 but set in the period just before the end of the Soviet Union.

There is an unmistakable odor about socialist countries that pervades every public place. It is a strong animal smell, composed in equal parts of sweat and unwashed clothes, Russian cigarettes, cheap perfume, piss, disinfectant, and leaded gasoline; in the heyday of Communism, every socialist country smelled the same. But in the mother church of Marxism-Leninism, the reek was stronger, sharper, more pervasive. It was the ur-stench of the Soviet system, the stink of a dying animal and with each passing year it got stronger and more difficult for foreigners, even fellow travelers in the west, to ignore.

Smell that here at home now? I thought you might.

THE COLUMN: 'Our Democracy' Needs a Great Reset

You know the American Republic is on its last legs when those trying to destroy it consistently refer to it as "our democracy," which is exactly what it is not and what it was never intended to be. Historically, democracies don't last long, because they quickly turn into tyrannies after passing through the parasitical stage. Democracy in ancient Greece was hardly what we might call "democracy" today, as voting was restricted males with a stake in the system. No votes for women, slaves, or helots. The young male hoplites of Athens had to complete military training as ephebes to earn their right to vote, and not simply achieve their majority, which was effectively 20; additionally they had to buy their own armor and weapons and be prepared to go to war on practically an annual basis. (Any resemblance between this society and the world of Starship Troopers is entirely intentional.) 

Modern experience has taught us that essentially plebiscitary democracies, in which the "right" to vote is applied indiscriminately, and for which there are no qualifications (in some cases, not even breathing) eventually collapse once the citizenry discover they can vote themselves money without having to work for it. Roman democracy in the days of the Republic was a horse-trading racket which gradually broke down during the civil war between Sulla and Marius into a street thugocracy. Caesar's attempt to yank the Republic back from the brink went down in a hail of knife thrusts on the Ides of March in 44 B.C. Augustus called himself Princeps (first citizen) instead of Emperor (which had been a military honorific) but by the time of Tiberius, the Republic was one in name only and Rome had become an Empire, with a command-and-control centralized leadership and a huge, strangulating bureaucracy that made itself very, very rich.

If these walls could talk...

And that is what eventually spelled its doom. But don't take it from me, take it from Edward Gibbon in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, first published in the epochal year of 1776:

Wherever the seat of government is fixed, a considerable part of the public revenue will be expended by the prince himself, by his ministers, by the officers of justice, and by the domestics of the palace. The most wealthy of the provincials will be attracted by the powerful motives of interest and duty, of amusement and curiosity. A third and more numerous class of inhabitants will insensibly be formed, of servants, of artificers, and of merchants, who derive their subsistence from their own labor, and from the wants or luxury of the superior ranks.

...it was artfully contrived by Augustus, that, in the enjoyment of plenty, the Romans should lose the memory of freedom. But the prodigality of Constantine could not be excused by any consideration either of public or private interest; and the annual tribute of corn imposed upon Egypt for the benefit of his new capital, was applied to feed a lazy and insolent populace, at the expense of the husbandmen of an industrious province.

Constantine: moving didn't solve the problem.

And here we are: a lazy and insolent populace demands that others feed, house, and clothe them at public expense, in exchange for doing nothing civically useful. And yet we are constantly told by the enemies of the Republic (who aptly call themselves "Democrats") that the "right" to vote is "sacred" and "sacrosanct," which is pretty rich coming from professional atheists and nihilists who believe only in tearing down whatever is good. Unsurprisingly, these are the same people who hate the Constitution and are now open in their advocacy of its destruction.

Let's start with this gem, by "doctors" Ryan D. Doerfler and Samuel Moyn, law professors at Harvard and Yale:

When liberals lose in the Supreme Court — as they increasingly have over the past half-century — they usually say that the justices got the Constitution wrong. But struggling over the Constitution has proved a dead end. The real need is not to reclaim the Constitution, as many would have it, but instead to reclaim America from constitutionalism.

Constitutions — especially the broken one we have now — inevitably orient us to the past and misdirect the present into a dispute over what people agreed on once upon a time, not on what the present and future demand for and from those who live now. This aids the right, which insists on sticking with what it claims to be the original meaning of the past.

Arming for war over the Constitution concedes in advance that the left must translate its politics into something consistent with the past. But liberals have been attempting to reclaim the Constitution for 50 years — with agonizingly little to show for it. It’s time for them to radically alter the basic rules of the game.

One might better say that it's time to sack both Harvard and Yale and sow salt in their ashes as enemies of the Republic and threats to the American way of life. You know, the way the Roman Republic treated the Baal-worshipping Phoenician/Levantine/Canaanite outpost city of Carthage at the end of the Third Punic War in 146 B.C., after which Carthage become a prosperous and productive Roman burg in the province of Africa until its conquest by Muslim Arabs in 698 A.D.

Gibbon: right all along.

Behind door #2 we find this gem, a cowardly unsigned contribution to the Harvard Law Review called "Pack the Union: A Proposal to Admit New States for the Purpose of Amending the Constitution to Ensure Equal Representation." A sample:

To create a system where every vote counts equally, the Constitution must be amended. To do this, Congress should pass legislation reducing the size of Washington, D.C., to an area encompassing only a few core federal buildings and then admit the rest of the District’s 127 neighborhoods as states. These states — which could be added with a simple congressional majority — would add enough votes in Congress to ratify four amendments: (1) a transfer of the Senate’s power to a body that represents citizens equally; (2) an expansion of the House so that all citizens are represented in equal-sized districts; (3) a replacement of the Electoral College with a popular vote; and (4) a modification of the Constitution’s amendment process that would ensure future amendments are ratified by states representing most Americans.

In short, we have to destroy the Constitution in order to save it. But why let the Left have all the fun? If we really want to defend our Republic -- and do away with "their democracy" -- it's time to get busy. Institutional capture is something conservatives are terrible at, in part because they don't realize our institutions of government, faith, and learning are even subject to capture. That's in part because traditionalists consistently underestimate the satanic maliciousness of the Frankfurt School and because they have not heeded John O'Sullivan's famous formulation that "any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing," often incorrectly ascribed to the late Robert Conquest.

So instead of destroying the Constitution in order to appease the Alinskyite malcontents on the Left (Rule No. 4: "Make opponents live up to their own book of rules. You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity"), why not simply roll things back and restore it? Where that restoration point would be is open to discussion, but at the very least it ought to include the abolition of most of the amendments after 1900, starting with those of the "Progressive" era, and certainly including the 26th, another of Ted Kennedy's gifts to the country that saved his immediate ancestors from the Great Famine in Ireland.

What do you think? How do we restore Our Republic? I'll have some specific ideas next week, but the floor is now open for suggestions from those of you who do not think the United States of America was illegitimate from the jump, treasure it as one of the highest achievements of the Enlightenment, and reject central-European socialism in all its serpentine manifestations.

You want a "Great Reset"? Here's your big chance. Over to you.