On May 24th I’ll be sixty five and another 1st generation Baby Boomer will be officially “Old” (though, because of our cruddy economy which stands between employment and age, I am already retired and at the mercy of Social Security… which my Congressional leadership wants to do away with).
Most of my adult life I have been a liberal Democrat… in college during the height of the Civil Rights movement and the fiercest part of the anti-Vietnam War campaign, as a working citizen through booms and busts in the economy ending in the major recession we are apparently now out of (except in my house… yours too?)… and I voted as a liberal Dem in the past couple of elections. Now I’m not certain that “liberal Democrat” has meaning anymore.
While I shudder at people who are now called “Originalists” (heard this term on a CATO Institute panel on C-Span, where it was tied as a label on Justice Clarence Thomas), who think of the Constitution as unchangeable and fixed, I am upset with some lack of adherence to Constitutional regulations which have not been changed in the document, but have certainly been changed in practice.
The power to declare war, for instance, is still Constitutionally the province of Congress, and specifically the House. Yet, from my earliest childhood when Truman got us into the “Korean War” – called a “Police Action” because it was never declared by Congress (and also never ended, btw); to my early adult years when LBJ got us into the “Viet Nam War“, started as a Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG), again, without the declaration by Congress as a war; to the first “Gulf War” that George H. W. Bush got us into without a Congressional Declaration; to the Second “Gulf War”…also known as the “War in Iraq”… which has really not ended since it was followed by a decade of occupation, which spread from George W. Bush through Bill Clinton to Barack Obama and continues, to some extent, today (although the government would have us believe that it is over); to the current “War in Afghanistan” started by Bush 2 a year before the Iraq War, allowed to simmer over a low flame for a dozen years, then refocused and put into first place by Barack Obama; I have seen the Congress give up it’s war declaration responsibilities and the Executive Administration take the freedom to do whatever they want with the Military it commands.
Whew…sorry for the long paragraph above. I had to get it out, however.
Now we are in a conflict in Libya, not yet called a “War”, although as you watch the TV news you can see that label arriving on swift feet. The President didn’t bother doing anything with Congress on this… they were on vacation (from the tedious job where they work from Monday to Thursday, then spend the rest of their week raising money for the next election) after all… but took the excuse of a U.N. Resolution taking precedence over our National Law and all of a sudden we are in our third Middle East conflict, going on simultaneously with the first two. And we’re doing all of them without a supporting economy… the romance of borrowed funds.
Now I read that the Conservatives in Congress are going to come back this week, from the much needed time off they have had, and express opposition to Libyan war. As Representative Roscoe Bartlett (R – Maryland) said last night:
“The United States does not have a King’s army. President Obama’s unilateral choice to use U.S. military force in Libya is an affront to our Constitution.”
Of course, some would say that the Conservative Republican majority in the House, by spending most of their year on voting against anything their more liberal colleagues are in favor of, in areas which have little to do with our current problems, ignoring the unemployment problem the recession has created and deciding to “fix” the economy by defunding most of the services that keep us going, while making sure the rich don’t get taxed, has also been in an affront to our Constitution.
I’m getting more and more upset with both sides of our elected officialdom and with the outrageous empire we have established worldwide with our 200+ military bases and rush to be the “defense” force in countries where there is oil for our insatiable power demands. I am frustrated that, as an individual, there seems to be little or nothing I can do about the situation, with the one exception of pointing the problems out in this blog. Voting doesn’t seem to solve the problem because politicians lie… they run saying they will do one thing…they get elected…and then they become the managers and implementers of the “same old same old.”
The Corporate World eats up the majority of our economic resources. The Corporate world controls the officials their support elects. The Corporate world does not mind that they have allowed our millions of jobs to move to China and India for cheap costs and have wrecked our own economy in the process. Yet they are not a power that is recognized by our Constitution… only by those our Constitution allows us to elect.
I guess I would like to define myself as a “Constitutional Progressive” and no longer as a “Democratic Liberal.” I would like to see us uphold those regulations and responsibilities that the Constitution-as-Amended contains, yet support changes in the Constitution that reflect our current world and the protection of the people in our Nation without depriving them of their rights and input. That means not an “Originalist” viewpoint, but a believer in the social and political equality of citizens and the ability to lead full and meaningful lives in a country that our taxes support.
I don’t know if this is likely, but I will campaign for it as if it is.