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It’s Time To Live By the Compass

By: Bill Pressgrove

February 17, 2014

Ever since I started doing my own personal vetting of candidates for any political office, I look to see if they live by the clock or the compass. Those who live by the clock are always interested in just how much time they have before the next election and how much money they have accrued in their "war chests" to defeat their opponent. Those who live by the compass, don't worry about when the next election is or whether they will win, they are more concerned with the direction the country is headed.

Even though they don't agree on some things, Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul agree on one major point, the Constitution is the law of the land and must be followed. It seems to me that those who are aspiring to be either Representatives of the people or Senators, would do very well to look at the character of these individuals to see why they are so stalwart in maintaining principles that reflect a deep understanding of the intent of the Constitution.

Living by the compass, they have seen through the smoke screen of false ideology that seems to have permeated the philosophy espoused by both major political parties. I have heard so many times that the Constitution was a "living" document that it has to change to keep up with the times. This is the same kind of philosophy that doomed ancient Rome and Greece.

These individuals espouse the fact that the Constitution was written to address human nature. The Founders were well aware, and often expressed their feelings about what they were seeing in the person of King George III. They knew that, "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely." If you are a student of history, you will recognize this concept in both the secular leadership throughout history as well as ecclesiastical leadership during the times of the Inquisition and many other religious leaders, Christian and non-Christian alike.

As students of the Constitution; Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul recognize that the Founders were not all of the same religion nor were they all of the same political ideology. Many were anti-federalists in opposition to the federalists. However, all recognized that government was to be the servant and not the master. The Constitution was written in such a way as to bridle government and rein it in when it became overbearing. The Constitution loans the Federal Government enumerated powers so it could perform tasks that would be difficult for each state to perform independently. Having said that, it is important to point out some of the powers that were not delegated to the Federal Government. These three Senators have expressed concerns about these two areas of concern.

There is no provision in the Constitution to grant the Federal Government the power to regulate education. The states and local governments were to be in charge of the education. They would be in competition with each other to provide the best education for their citizens in order to attract people to their states. Once the Federal Government took over the responsibility of educating all "citizens of the United States", this competition disappeared. The Federal Government then bribed the states (with money that came from the states) to put in place programs like "No Child Left Behind" and "Common Core" which serve to indoctrinate and "entitle" students more than educate them. (An aside, it is impossible to not leave those who don't want to learn behind without slowing those who want to learn down and bore them to death.)

General Welfare as used in the Preamble didn't mean that the Federal Government was responsible to respond to every natural disaster or calamity that happens throughout the country. As a history teacher, I pointed out to the students that the Federal Government didn't step in to assist Chicago after the Great Fire in 1871. Neither did it step in to rebuild San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake and fire that left that town devastated. In both cases the residents of the cities, citizens of the state, and volunteers from around the country came together to rebuild each without federal assistance.

These three statesmen continually point out two things from the Progressive Era of President Wilson that came together to extract more power from the states and place it on the shoulders of the Federal Government. First, income tax was instituted by the 16th amendment to give the Federal Government power over each individual's purse strings, and second, the in-statement of Senators was changed from the legislative bodies of the various states to popular election by the people by the 17th amendment.

You might ask how these two "progressive" ideas have served to undo the vertical checks and balances placed in the Constitution by the Founders. In the first place, the Federal Government was to provide for its needs with impost and excise taxes. For more than a century, this method of taxing kept the Federal Government from growing out of proportion to what was necessary to accomplish its purposes. With the imposition of individual income tax by amendment, government could collect more than it needed. That gave rise to the manufacturing of "needs" to which the excess money was to be applied.

Secondly, no longer were the Senators responsible to the states they represented, but to the people of the states. On the surface this seems fine, but the Founders knew that a popular vote for both houses would hamstring states because they would not be represented in Congress, that is why there was such a debate over the composition of the Senate and how they would be selected in the Constitutional Convention. They were to represent the states, not the people, therefore they were selected by the state legislatures.

Now more than ever the political scene is one of competition to see who can promise more money from the non-existent coffers of the Federal Government than their competitor. Both Senators and Representatives use the wholesale quid pro quo use of earmarks and pork barrel projects to buy votes and remain in office. This is human nature at its worst. Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul are the exceptions to this kind of politics and live by their moral compasses instead of the political clock of the iron triangle.