The so-called Constitution Party

March 16, 2009

I have received several emails promoting the Constitution Party, asking for my support.  Unfortunately for some, my views are the Constitution Party are not positive.

 

The Constitution Party can be found at www.constitionparty.com.  Specifically, the party platform can be viewed here: http://www.constitutionparty.com/party_platform.php#Sancity%20of%20Life .

 

Despite some outstanding work in applying Constitutional principles as fixes to the problems of the modern United States, the Constitution Party is essentially a religious party – more specifically a Christian party.  On this basis, we can find no common ground.  

 

Notice that the first principle of the party, immediately after the ‘preamble’, is the “Sanctity of Life”.  Here’s what this means to the Constitution Party:

The pre-born child, whose life begins at fertilization, is a human being created in God’s image. The first duty of the law is to prevent the shedding of innocent blood. It is, therefore, the duty of all civil governments to secure and to safeguard the lives of the pre-born.

 

To that end, the Constitution of these United States was ordained and established for “ourselves and our posterity.” Under no circumstances may the federal government fund or otherwise support any state or local government or any organization or entity, foreign or domestic, which advocates, encourages or participates in the practice of abortion. We also oppose the distribution and use of all abortifacients.

 

We affirm the God-given legal personhood of all unborn human beings, without exception. As to matters of rape and incest, it is unconscionable to take the life of an innocent child for the crimes of his father.

 

Even in matters of rape and incest, according to the Party, is in “unconscionable” to abort a pregnancy at any stage.  The problem here is not one’s view on abortion, or whether one is ‘pro-life’ or ‘pro-choice’.  My opinion on the issue (or yours, for that matter) is irrelevant.  The problem is the inconsistency of maintaining this position while arguing for a Constitutional Republic along the lines of our Founding Fathers’ anti-statist views.  How does one maintain a ban on abortion?  One utilizes the force of the state against the citizen.  What if a pregnant woman desires an abortion?  Does the ‘Constitution’ Party prevent her from obtaining one?  Apparently.  How do they prevent her?  Will they send police to her home?  Arrest her at gunpoint?  Will they imprison her against her will and force her to give birth?  Draw a prohibition to its logical conclusion and you have just another variation of the police-statism we have today. 

 

Perhaps such a ban will be enforced by prohibiting doctors from performing abortions.  How will this be enforced?  Will the same ‘jack-booted thugs’ currently wearing “DEA” or “ATF” on their uniforms be sent with automatic weapons to arrest the doctor?  Will the doctor be imprisoned?  If so, for how long?  Who decides?  Where does it all end?

 

The issue of abortion requires great intellectual maturity and honesty to discuss in the context of Constitutional self-government simply because so many have strong opinions on the issue.  But the real issue is handing over power to the state to compel action (or inaction) through its near-monopoly on force.  Apparently the Constitutional Party is more than willing, in this case, to cede the state such power over the individual.  Again, where does it end?  If it is the position of the party that such a handover of power will end with abortion, they are no better than any other group of statist ‘banners’ looking to outlaw what they find objectionable, despite the power dynamics involved.

 

Now, lest you think I am simply focusing on the very controversial issue of abortion, let us delve deeper into the party platform.  In one sentence at the end of the “Sanctity of Life” platform point, we find:

 

Finally, we also oppose all government “legalization” of euthanasia, infanticide and suicide.

 

So now the government will also utilize force to prevent, for example, a slowly, painfully dying man’s desire to be put to sleep rather than put his family through extended heartache.  Now the government will utilize force to keep alive one who is functionally brain-dead and can be kept alive only at great cost.  The individual’s living will will have no merit, presumably, in such a situation, nor will the wishes of his family.

 

Another example of the religious nature of the so-called Constitutional Party can be found in the platform point labeled “Pornography”:

 

Pornography, at best, is a distortion of the true nature of sex created by God for the procreative union between one man and one woman in the holy bonds of matrimony, and at worst, is a destructive element of society resulting in significant and real emotional, physical, spiritual and financial costs to individuals, families and communities. We call on our local, state and federal governments to uphold our cherished First Amendment right to free speech by vigorously enforcing our laws against obscenity to maintain a degree of separation between that which is truly speech and that which only seeks to distort and destroy.

 

Now we find the so-called Constitutional Party is also interested in censoring speech and outlawing pornography.  Who is to determine the difference between art and pornography?  Where is the line drawn?  Are the party faithful capable of determining this in all cases?  I certainly am not, nor do I care if my neighbor wishes to view pornography. 

 

And notice the Orwellian use of language: “We call on our…governments to uphold our cherished First Amendment right to free speech by vigorously enforcing our laws against obscentity…”.  This is not the Constitutionalism I hold so dear, nor would I entrust others to determine what speech is “free” and which is “obscene”. 

 

Again, despite some admirable and true Constitutional positions the party outlines, it is fundamentally a religious party.  The party “preamble” says it all (emphasis mine):

 

The Constitution Party gratefully acknowledges the blessing of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as Creator, Preserver and Ruler of the Universe and of these United States. We hereby appeal to Him for mercy, aid, comfort, guidance and the protection of His Providence as we work to restore and preserve these United States.

 

This great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been and are afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.

 

The goal of the Constitution Party is to restore American jurisprudence to its Biblical foundations and to limit the federal government to its Constitutional boundaries.

 

I, and many others like me, refuse to cast my lot with a party fundamentally, and by its own admission, based on “restoring” America to its “Biblical foundations”.  The true foundations of the United States of America are in intellect, not faith; in independence, not religious community; and in highly decentralized self-government, not theocracy. 

 

I must therefore conclude that the “goal” of the Constitution Party, as stated in its own words, is incompatible with Jeffersonian minarchy, the intent of our Founding Fathers, their fierce independence and their revolutionary spirit.  Our Founding Fathers were, fundamentally, men of the Age of Reason.  Many were deists and Masons.  Few were religious fundamentalists.  And while the culture of 18th century America was largely Christian, and a strict Christianity was observed by the a large number of citizens, to define the revolution, or 18th century America, solely in the context of religion is intellectually dishonest and suggests a profound misunderstanding of what motivated our Founding Fathers. 

 

The religious and social culture of 18th century America is not something we can arbitrarily recreate, nor is such a recreation desirable.  It has been observed that no man is free from the prejudices of his time.  To confuse fundamentalist Christianity as inexorably linked to the intellectual foundations of our revolution and our Founding Fathers makes as much sense as linking such foundations to the institution of slavery.  One must detach our Founders’ intellectual concepts from the culture of their historic period to truly understand their meaning.  Again, we cannot recreate the culture of an historic period. Rather, we should seek to understand the intellectual foundations and political and economic motivations behind the American Revolution.  Only then can we truly understand the fierce independence, anti-statism, and desire for self-government that is our heritage.  These are the ideas that made America unique in the world, not Christianity.  In the late 18th century, it must be noted, the English worshipped the same god, as did the French, Spanish and a host of our other allies and adversaries.  Christianity is not what made revolutionary America unique. 

 

Our political problems today do not stem from a lack of Christianity.  Rather, they stem from the out-of-control growth of the state and the abandonment of Constitutional principles of local self-government.  Our problems involve too much trust in the state and a statist mentality among our citizens, so quick as they are to cede power to the state in a false-bargain for ‘safety’, to place their own liberty at risk in order to ban or control that which they find personally objectionable.  Our problems stem from a lack of understanding our own history, our own revolution and our own Constitution – none of which are taught in schools.

 

As such, I can find no common cause with an overtly Christian political party.  And that’s really a shame, because –as I stated above- the party has done excellent work in getting the word out, in applying many sound Constitutional principles to the problems of our modern, out-of-control government.  The party produces excellent information packets and their website is very good.  Their position on the Second Amendment is both Constitutional and absolute.  The majority of their positions are strictly Constitutional in nature.  Why the party feels incapable of detaching their sound Constitutional principles from their religious fervor is beyond my understanding. 

 

For these reasons, like so many other American Patriots, I find myself still without a party.  And so I suggest Patriots beware, and use great caution before throwing in your lot with religious parties, lest you find the power of the state used to enforce yet another form of collective dominance of the individual.  While you may support positions against abortion or pornography and feel these planks are ‘common sense’, if we have learned anything it should be that enabling government is a one-way street to statism.  We should understand, by now, that allowing government to outlaw and enforce only starts the snowball rolling, that police agencies will grow and along with them regulations, until the two become a mutually sustaining dynamic, all at the expense of individual liberties. We have seen this with the ‘war on drugs’ and the ‘war on terror’.  We saw this with prohibition of alcohol, and we see it today with prohibitions on human actions both large and small.  We see the growth of taxation and regulation, policing and surveillance.  We see the growth in power of the state at the expense of the individual in all aspects of modern society.  Taking power from bureaucrats simply to hand it over to theocrats seems a senseless exercise. 

 

Most of all I fear that as a society, we have become hopelessly in favor of subjecting our opinions upon our neighbors.  This can only empower and serve the interests of the state.  It is within this context that the state is winning and will continue to grow until we are ready to set aside our pet issues and petty disagreements and unite around true independence.  A religious version of self-government that outlaws pornography and abortion at the point of the state’s sword, and raises one version of the divine over the universally human is inconsistent with true Constitutionalism.  Theocracy is just another form of collective statism. 

 

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One Response to “The so-called Constitution Party”

  1. Jay Says:

    I agree with much of your critism of the Constitutional party. I don’t lable myself but I tend to have a large body of agreement with many Anarchist, Libertarians, and Constitutionalists. I’m a Christian but believe Jesus would teach us to seek to influence people by love and not by Force (ie state power). I don’t claim allegence to any particular party and have voted for libertarisns, republicans, democrats, etc. You sound like you might be most at home within the Libertarian party. I like the party in general, but tend to be more of a left leaning libertarian and support voluntary free market socialism. That would take alot to explain in itself.


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