Before I continue addressing your points, one more word about truth, because I suspect I’m somewhat unique in the way I approach truth, certainly, I would venture, compared to most people you know. It’s been my experience that the vast majority of people who involve themselves in political or philosophical debate tend to seek out information that supports their point of view and/or refutes their adversary’s point of view. Even I fall into that trap occasionally, as I suspect it’s human nature to not want to admit you’re wrong and someone else is right, which, in fact, dovetails with your original comments about how divided we are. My first reaction, however, is often to see if I can find concrete proof that my opponent is right. A good example of this was last year when you were uber-critical of Glenn Beck’s off-hand comment (which I had not heard first hand) on his radio show that the youth camp in Norway sounded like a Hitler Youth Camp. The first thing I did was find a sound clip, or transcript (don’t remember which) of what he said to see if you were correct. You were — he did say that. He didn’t really expand on it, however, and it appeared that it was just an isolated, reactionary comment, one in which your reaction was certainly understandable, given the circumstances of the mass murder there. Next I tried to find an article that analyzed the comment in an unbiased way, or, better yet, an explanation from Beck on why he would make such a comment in the first place. I never found any evidence of the latter, and the first 5 or 10 pages of a Google search all resulted in variations of or quotes from the same article (quite common when the Leftist blogosphere goes apoplectic over something a Conservative says or does), insinuating that Beck was an idiot and a monster for even making the comment. Eventually I did come across a foreign news service article that said while Beck’s comment may have been crass and insensitive it wasn’t that far off the mark. Now does that justify the mass killing that took place there? Of course not. I think sometimes everyone says things without thinking — I know I have.
One of the things that has always puzzled me about laws, legislation and the rights granted by the Constitution is why do rights, seemingly granted under the Constitution have to subsequently be “granted” through extra legislation? Voting Rights legislation, Civil Rights legislation, Right of Women to Vote being primary examples of my concern in this area.
I think you need to differentiate between natural rights vs. legislated rights. Natural rights have to do with “unalienable” rights that you’re born with. Religious people often refer to them as “God-given rights”, but even atheists are born with the same “natural” rights, and these are spelled out in the first 10 amendments to the Constitution, aptly named “The Bill of Rights”. The Constitution tasks Congress with protecting those rights and prohibits the enactment of any legislation that would infringe on those rights. This is where I fundamentally disagree with Obama. He finds fault with the Constitution because he views it as an expression of “negative liberties”, ie. what the government cannot do to you, but doesn’t spell out what the government must do on your behalf. The main reason our federal government has grown so large and out of control with a corresponding exponential increase in debt, is that the government has increasingly involved itself in aspects of our lives that were never intended. The concept at the crux of the great American experiment — man governing himself, was that the power and scope of the central government needed to be about one notch above anarchy, and that most power would rest as close as possible to the people at the state and local level, and even with the people themselves. I think escaping that paradigm was probably what Obama meant the week before the 2008 election, when he said, “we are 5 days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.” What did you think when you heard that, and were you were excited or apprehensive?
Interestingly, there was no right to “vote” guaranteed in the Constitution, and initially only free men who owned property could vote. That eliminated virtually all women and people of color, until Congress decided that everyone, regardless of gender or color, should be allowed to vote. But Congress didn’t create a new right; it expanded an existing right to include everyone. The rationale for why it took a constitutional amendment to allow 18-year-olds to vote is also interesting:
It also seems strange to me that rights granted to individuals have now been granted to Corporations… What is that about? Citizens United being a primary example of the latest travesty in this arena.
It seemed strange to me too, until a started researching the decision. From everything I’ve read, the main justification was that Corporations are entities made up of people, just as labor unions are entities made up of people, and yet, in terms of political clout, they were not equal. Citizens United was, in the end, about leveling the playing field. So, while I understand the rationale behind the decision, I don’t agree with it. My personal feeling is that neither corporations nor unions should be allowed to dump massive amounts of money into political campaigns, and certainly not without majority support of shareholders and union members.
Are these terms spelled out somewhere in the document or an Amendment? And if so, why can’t these be adjusted by the “will of the people” to remain viable in today’s culture of lobbyists and special interests?
As the SC has struck down previous attempts to legislate term limits, it appears it IS going to take a constitutional amendment. The problem with that is that constitutional amendments can only originate in Congress or at a constitutional convention, neither of which appears to be likely to happen any time soon. And, actually, a Constitutional Convention would be a horrible idea, as it would open up the Constitution for all sorts of radical changes by whichever side gained control of the Convention. Unless we get to a point where a majority in Congress puts the good of the country over their own personal self-interest, they will never legislate to diminish their own power.
Interesting that you use the word “agnostic” in terms of social issues. I’d only considered it in terms of religious views. Personally, I find the area of abortion a personal one and one that gets legislated strictly on behalf of religious moral views. I may not agree with the concept of abortion personally and, if there is truly separation of church and state then why are religious morals driving this issue? Seems the separation isn’t working as intended.
Agnostic may have been the wrong word. Perhaps “indifferent” would be more descriptive. There has never been a constitutional separation of church and state. The concept originated in a personal letter from Jefferson to, IIRC, a Baptist minister, and has evolved over nearly 2 centuries to mean that everyone has a right to not be exposed to anything religious (except, strangely enough, anything Muslim) in the public arena. I’m not a particularly religious person, at least not in terms of belonging to an organized religion — haven’t attended church regularly in over 30 years, but I’m not offended by public displays of faith, regardless of whose faith it is. The primary dynamic that brought people to this country in the 17th and 18th centuries was religious freedom.
And for gay marriage, just what is the basis for the furor? Who cares? Who would be harmed if this “right” were granted? Why does the right have to be granted at all? Why is the government meddling in the personal lives of its citizens? Again, I blame the religious extremists for continuing to pursue this vendetta. If love is universal and blind, who are these people to denigrate love between people of the same sex when love between a man and a woman is fraught with problems and such a high divorce rate? Heterosexual couples are in no position to speak about what is right for others at all.
We’ve had numerous discussions on the blog about homosexual marriage. Personally, I’ve resolved myself to the fact it will eventually become as universally accepted as inter-racial marriage has. I don’t view the two the same, but many people do, particularly people in their 40’s or younger. Much of that has to do, IMO, with how the issue has been advanced in our educational system, as well as how the media, particularly the entertainment media, has worked hand in hand with the activist component of the homosexual community to ram the homosexual agenda down everyone’s throats at an ever-increasing pace.
The term “gay marriage” has more, I believe, to do with acceptance of the gay lifestyle as normal than it has to do with marriage per se. Interestingly, most Conservatives I know (myself included) support civil unions for homosexuals that allow for all the legal advantages of normal married heterosexual couples. What we object to is the hijacking of a many thousands-of-years-old term that denotes the best way to raise succeeding generations, something that, absent outside help, married couples of the same sex are biologically incapable of accomplishing. Once the definition has been changed, what’s to prevent it from continuing to evolve to accommodate all sorts of variations — 3 men, 2 men and one woman, father and daughter, mother and son, and so on? All sorts of abnormal relationships could be made normal by simply continuing to re-define the word marriage.
In the end, this is an issue that will be resolved, IMO, not by convincing those opposed to it to change their minds, but by the attrition of those who oppose it. If it stops with the marriage of two people of the same sex, it may well become a permanent component of our society at large. If it continues to evolve into marriage between anything and anyone, then I suspect it will eventually go the way of prohibition: a noble experiment with unforeseen and drastic unintended consequences. Bottom line; I look at it just as I look at most controversial issues: how does it benefit civilization as a whole? And I don’t think a convincing argument can be made that there is any significant benefit to the advancement of civilization.
Final note: I don’t know if there will be a part 4. It kind of depends on his next response.