I remember as an officer in the US Army, I regularly took the following oath:
I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God.
My oath was premised on the promise to support and defend our Constitution. I must admit, however, I had not really studied the document. Aside from high school civics, it just was not a topic of discussion or of particular interest. It said what it said. When I first took the oath in 1986, as a cadet, I knew then it meant at the very least I was promising not to be a communist.
From the Army I went to law school. We studied Constitutional law our first year (and second and third), and did I ever feel like a rube. I studied that document. I read it and knew it. It did not take me long to realize that the document I had promised to defend, and as an infantry officer that inherently meant pledging my life, had been mutilated, distorted and twisted to mean whatever the political branches in general, and the Supreme Court in particular, wanted it to mean. Military officers pledge their lives to defend a document without realizing that our highest judges and political leaders ignore and distort that same document to allow them whatever largesse and grant of power they want. While we defended the document from foreign threats, it appeared to me that the document was ravaged from within. Books have been written on the topic of how far we’ve strayed from the Republic laid out in our Constitution.
It was not until recently, however, that the consequences of this domestic dereliction of duty have become apparent. Perhaps the most pressing and obvious, our 15 trillion dollars of debt and intractable social disputes are due directly to our abandoning the fundamental checks, balances and limits on our federal government that were established by our founders in what is allegedly our foundation legal document that our Armed Forces swears to uphold and defend.
Please review the Constitutional grant of powers below. Curiously, there’s no federal power for establishing a national health insurance, healthcare, or prescription drug coverage; there’s no basis for a national education policy or for “No Child Left Behind”; there’s no federal authority for protecting the environment, building housing for the poor, or for assisting urban development. There’s no mention of administrative bureaucracies controlled by the President that pass thousands of laws each year and then adjudicate those laws a.k.a. regulations. There is no mention of the President having the power to send troops into combat operations for undeclared war. Only Congress was given the power to declare war. How many wars have we now fought since the last declaration of war? These powers were not given to the federal government through the Constitution. Instead, federal politicians take or vote these powers unto themselves and the federal judiciary condones them. These policies were nice and/or important, so aside from a few cranks and loons, the vast majority of the body politic did not care, for decades.
If we’re not a Constitutional republic, what are we – besides bankrupt? Does it matter? In this election cycle, this issue is of central relevance. Unfortunately, only one candidate sounds the alarm. The four other Republican candidates and our POTUS plan on more of the same. We’ve largely abandoned the system of government on which this nation was founded. The federal government has completely exploded past the limited powers granted to it, denying itself hardly anything. Now, like many a glutton, we find ourselves bankrupt. We’re also politically gridlocked and largely ruled by an unelected extra-Constitutional federal administrative state. Both the so-called left and the so-called right participated in creating this mess. An incompetent and grossly ideologically biased press corp and educational establishment enabled decades of federal misconduct. We all now share in paying the consequences. Our future generations will also be paying the consequences, literally, presuming our Republic persists. We’re broke and we’ve broken the system of government handed down to us.
THE ENUMERATED POWERS OF CONGRESS
U.S. Constitution – Article 1 Section
The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
To borrow money on the credit of the United States;
To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;
To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;
To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;
To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;
To establish Post Offices and Post Roads;
To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries
To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;
To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations;
To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;
To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;
To provide and maintain a Navy;
To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;
To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings; And
To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.
THE POWER OF THE PRESIDENT
Section 2 – Civilian Power over Military, Cabinet, Pardon Power, Appointments
The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.
He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.
The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.
Section 3 – State of the Union, Convening Congress
He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.
FOR THE AVOIDANCE OF DOUBT, THE NOW-IGNORED POST-SCRIPT: THE TENTH AMENDMENT
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
(which means that the only prerogatives of the Congress (as well as the Executive Branch and the Judicial Branch) are limited to those granted by the Constitution of the United States)