Thursday, September 02, 2010


Paul Rahe On Restoring Constitutional Government

From Big Government comes a typically thoughtful and informed essay by Hillsdale College History Professor Paul Rahe, who credits the relentless despotism of Obama, Pelosi, Reid and Emmanuel with having ignited and fed the growth of the Tea Party Movement.

The measures undertaken by the Obama administration and by its supporters in Congress that gave rise to and sustained the Tea-Party Movement all have this in common. They constitute an assault – evident to anyone who cares to look – on our inherited political order. They transgress on the two great principles constitutive of that order. They are inconsistent with federalism and the separation of powers, and nothing speaks to their character more eloquently than the fact that they were crafted in camera behind closed doors, that those who voted on them had not read them, and that they were of such a length as to be incomprehensible even to their putative authors.

Let me be a bit more precise. The two great measures passed since January, 2009 – the healthcare reform bill and the financial-regulation reform bill – presuppose that the federal government can do anything. Both run roughshod over the prerogatives of the states. Neither is consistent with federalism as a principle of governance.

The same can be said with regard to the separation of powers. Both bills presuppose a massive delegation of legislative power to executive agencies. Both presuppose that appointed officials can and should be empowered to issue regulations having the force of law. Both presuppose on the part of both houses of Congress an abdication of the legislative power. Both require a concentration of executive, legislative, and judicial power within a single agency that operations, in effective, behind closed doors. Both promise to give rise to a government that is invisible and unaccountable. The combination of these powers is, Montesquieu asserted, the very emblem of despotism.

What John Boehner, Mitch McConnell and their Republican colleagues must begin doing immediately, Rahe asserts, is educate American citizens to the furthest possible extent on the Democrats' ongoing attack on the Constitution, so as to facilitate a lasting return to first principals.
What those who joined the Tea-Party Movement sense must in the course of the midterm campaign be made manifest in all of its horror.
Read Restoring Constitutional Government.

More from Paul Rahe.

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