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Clearly, Democrats Aren't Saving the Constitution
Trump skeptical conservatives have reason to remain concerned with the GOP's dedication to constitutional government, but the Democrats’ contempt of constitutional values cannot be overstated.
We are living in what many have called a post-constitutional age. Both major political parties praise “constitutional norms,” especially when out of power. However, their conduct when granted the wheels of government by the people demonstrates the lack of seriousness these praises genuinely hold.
Political commentators on the Left and Right might voice approval for what happens under their preferred administrations. Still, few will seriously deny that we have been living under a “phone and pen” presidential government for well over a decade.
Hardliners of either party have openly admitted that when it comes to constitutional values, it is a vague, secondary consideration next to the demands of “victory,” whether or not this victory is meaningful absent constitutional values or not.
It shouldn’t be any wonder that, under these circumstances, those who wish to reassert constitutional values into the national conversation have had difficulty finding a comfortable place in either major political party. Many have attempted to create new movements and even tried to forge or have considered forging new political parties.
Many such efforts have been admirable, but the immediate anxieties of electoral politics have pressed many into uncomfortable choices. As questions grew about how best to be involved in the process, some chose to simply not be involved. A few, like myself, have re-engaged in the Republican Party to try and reassert constitutional values in the party that has stood for them in recent history. Others hoped that voting for Democrats would send a shock through the Republican Party and force a re-calibration upon constitutional values in defeat. While my stance has faced severe criticism and even hostility, I think this last year has demonstrated the folly of expecting good results from contributing to a political mandate for the Democratic Party.
It was no doubt surprising and encouraging that, during the Trump presidency, Democrats began speaking so aggressively in defense of “constitutional norms” and effectively used the mechanisms of federalism to combat what they opposed in the Trump administration.
They used state sovereignty to counter the president’s executive orders. They asserted local values and beliefs in openly rejecting federal laws they opposed. They used the court systems to check the arbitrary actions of the executive. They gained power in the House of Representatives and asserted the independence of the legislative branch in its relations with the executive branch. Chiefly, for the first time since the National Emergencies Act of 1976, they forced a presidential veto when a president sought to use emergency powers.
Over the course of the Trump presidency, it indeed could have been easy for a casual observer to conclude that the Democratic Party was the party standing for constitutional government.
But not even a year into the Biden administration, it has grown abundantly clear that it will not be the Democrats who save the US Constitution. Their use of constitutional mechanisms and federalist checks and balances has proven to be nothing more than a convenient use of a system they have still largely disavowed. While Donald Trump and his followers have set aside constitutional values in exchange for their immediate goals of victory in the culture war, the Democrats have demonstrated, now both before and after Trump, an open hostility to those values in both word and deed.
While Joe Biden ran as a moderate candidate, his agenda has embraced, almost without exception, the full gambit of progressive dream policies, which continue to turn the constitutional order upside down. He has either embraced or winked at a continued desire to remove the electoral college, to pack the US Supreme Court, to socialize healthcare and higher education, to introduce gross punitive taxes on successful American citizens, to legislate an “assault weapons” ban and other attacks upon the 2nd amendment, and to introduce near-absolute central planning of the national economy. Considering the virulent way many Democrats speak about the founding vision, it should go without saying these policies would only get them warmed up for further fundamental changes to our country.
I truly understand the difficulties of deciding what to do and who to support when it seems almost no one provides a reservoir of principles and ideals in a political world that’s lost its mind. Last year was another difficult and frustrating presidential election year. Each citizen had to search their heart and determine what they felt they had to do to live with themselves moving forward. But hopefully, with Donald Trump off the front page and with the clearly progressive policy agenda and a shockingly irresponsible foreign policy on full display from the Biden administration, we can now take an honest look at the direction of the Democratic Party and truly consider what lesser evils determinations have wrought.
It should be abundantly clear that we cannot rely on the false hope of partisan or electoral politics to reassert the constitutional order. The only way to do so is to clearly and unequivocally stand for the values of the constitutional order and to vow that we will not compromise those values for anyone.