Friday, August 6, 2010

On Redoing the Constitution

You may have noticed that the Rabid Right Wing Noise Machine is banging the drum for a "revisit" of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, the ostensible reason being that these foreigners, they come here only to "drop a baby," and thus secure an anchor for citizenship.

But this isn't the only amendment they have issues with; by no means. They have objections to the first, fourth, fifth and sixth; they believe the tenth has long been violated in spirit and substance. Given their druthers, they'd do away with the 17th Amendment, and if you drill down far enough, you'd probably find plenty of TeaBagging ravers who want to overturn the 13th, 15th and 16th Amendments as well as the 19th. But why stop there?

They have issues. You see. And if they had the opportunity, I don't doubt they'd love to start over from scratch, and a whole lot of them would simply prefer to substitute the Confederate Constitution -- with slight modifications.

It's the 14th Amendment's provision of automatic citizenship to those born in the United States or under its jurisdiction that they've chosen as the wedge leading to redoing the whole damn thing.

It's a pretty brilliant ploy. There is a lot of anti-immigrant feeling in the United States due in part to malingering racism (the immigrants are mostly from South of the Border, don't you know) and to the dreadful economic conditions for most Americans.

Pitting one group against another is the time honored ploy of the Ruling Class to ensure their own top-doggedness through all the vicissitudes of popular sentiment.

But in this case, given the general contempt for the Constitution that pervades the Ruling Class (cf: recent Palace regimes) and the contempt for particular provisions of the Constitution that offend the sensibilities of the vocal TeaBagging Brownshirts, it looks very much like this "Movement to Revisit" -- starting with the 14th Amendment -- which is actually the key to the whole Constitutional notion of extending the protections of the Constitution to all Americans, and defining who Americans are -- is the opening salvo in a campaign to openly overthrow the Constitution itself.

And start over?

Well, that's yet to be seen. The point is that the Government has essentially already divorced itself from The People, and over time, it has become the increasingly common practice of The Government to ignore the Constitution when it chooses to. This is a difficult concept to fathom, but it is more and more apparent that the Constitution is little more than a decoration when it comes to actual operations by the Government in all its branches and majesty. The Executive routinely pays it no mind -- with no consequences. The Congress is too corrupted to consider the Constitution, more concerned always with its own rules and perks. The Courts have a very spotty record of following the Constitution and the law, rather than creating out of whole cloth "law" and "Constitutional support" for their generally mindless political positions.

In practice, the military and the bureaucracy do what they're told -- by corrupt and anti-constitutional officials.

So why not start over?

I've advocated no less myself. But isn't it interesting that those who would take up the challenge are fierce anti-constitutionalists operating on the Right Wing, whereas I would look to revise our Constitutional underpinnings from the Left? And isn't it further interesting that so-called Leftists are now in the position of having to defend the status quo Constitution from the depredations of the Right Wing barbarians, whereas many on the Left would be more inclined toward revision themselves if given their druthers?

What's happening with the 14th Amendment may not go anywhere, but it is an example -- yet again -- of how the Right Wing in this country consistently takes the lead for real change toward a far more authoritarian, oppressive and exploitative future, while the Left sits passive or at best parenthetically defends the status quo.

This is how the nation keeps moving rightward.

To the point where it wouldn't be surprising to see the whole "equal protection" framework of the 14th Amendment and thus the Constitution itself overthrown -- in order to satisfy some deep need to protect and defend the nation from Brown Babies.


  1. Hey Che,

    I can infer some of the changes in the Constitution you might make based on past posts here and at UT, but would you be willing to spell a few of them out here?



  2. Hi Helen,

    I'm actually traveling right now, but I plan to flesh out some of the Constitutional issues that have bedeviled Americans for many a long year.

    If our friends on the right are so eager (now) to revisit some of the amendments, it ought to behoove the rest of us to think about how the Constitution might be... perfected, eh?



  3. Hey Che,

    You'd suggested in our last comments exchange that time might be short for change. I think, chaos theory in mind, that you might be very right. So many alternatives for breakdown and breakup of Empire, and if it's going to go, how might we prepare to set up alternative communities, either in the rubble, or between the cracks of imperial pavement? Without getting all Utopian, considering how we might rewrite our Constitutional premises for better practices does seem like an important project that might actually get applied in not all that long.

    I don't believe in perfection of any human model or set of ideas for how to organize a society, but the Bill of Rights is a mighty fine thing whenever it's actually taught and applied as an expression of the cultural genetic code of our particular civilization. And yes, of course a lot got left out that could, maybe, have helped prevent our hubris and dysfunction.

    One of the UT posters, coram nobis, makes me long for the kind of practical, ethical application of ideals that he seems to have practiced during his military career. I'll be using his letters and links as resource for my manuscript, along with your own.

    Hey by BTW, I've posted your McCord video link on UT, and here's a coram nobis gift of a link to further McCord story, which includes other soldier accounts of their behavior towards civilians and of the training that encouraged it.,0

    And here's a link to a Democracy Now interview of McCord's fellow soldier, Josh Stieber, who I met when he came through Pittsburgh:

    I've just joined IVAW - have to start pursuing more effective Solidarity with other soldiers who also want to take responsibility and make reparation for what they've been part of.

    Thanks for your work and hard thinking, Che, and I'm wishing you happy and safe on your travels.


  4. Hey Helen,

    I'm still on the road, at least until next week, so my ability to post is limited.

    But it really aggravates me that a handful of rightist political interests are able to move the discussion toward revising the Constitution the way THEY want it, and they are taken seriously, and the so-called Left is -- once again -- in the position of defending what really isn't working very well.

    Coram nobis is one of the real treasures at UT, no doubt about it. The Nation story and Josh Stieber's testimony -- among others -- is very important if we're really ever going to see the Imperial Overseas Project ended. What they have to say is so essential for Americans to hear-- and while they aren't getting a whole lot of coverage in the NYT or WaPo, they are not being ignored. The word is getting out. And apparently there is even a faction in the Pentagon that wants Americans to hear their truth.

    The Imperial Project will last as long as our Chinese owners want it to. When they pull the plug, it will be over. Just like that.

    Must run,

    Thanks for your thoughtful comments.