What can one say about a person who has taught Constitutional Law for 40 years and has learned nothing?
Our obsession with the Constitution has saddled us with a dysfunctional political system, kept us from debating the merits of divisive issues and inflamed our public discourse. Instead of arguing about what is to be done, we argue about what James Madison might have wanted done 225 years ago.
He makes believe that if we just liberated ourselves from the Constitution, we could get the work done. If we had no standards, no limits on the Government, no actual governmental structure, we would be able to get things done. Why is it that tyrants everywhere seem to conflate “the good of the people” with “government getting things done?”
That’s not a claim, Mr. Seidman. That’s a personal guarantee. Your unswerving loyalty to the Constitution does not protect me. It protects you. Because as long as you are sticking to the rules that we’ve agreed upon, I have to stick to those rules as well. The moment you decide to ditch the Constitution and start making up the rules as you go along, the rest of us will feel free to make up a few rules of our own. I can assure you that you won’t like them.
When might makes right, as surely it will when we have no Constitution to describe the limits of our government, I will take great pains to be among the mighty. Best for all concerned that we keep muddling along under the Constitution, alert for would be tyrants on either side who wish to exceed that document’s authority. It’s much safer that way.
Update: Someone says it better.
Would that some would heed these words.