The post below was written in 2016. I had just read a book that, amazingly, still rests on my shelf, called Everything You Know About the Constitution is Wrong, by a man calling himself Edward James Snowden. I normally do not recommend what others should read or watch or think. It is up to you.
Last night comments were appearing on the nature of our Constitution, and I remembered this book. It had impacted me. There are many threads within the book that Snowden writes well about, but the one that caught my eye most when I read it was the 14th Amendment, passed in 1868. It is long and wordy, and I will reprint here only the pertinent parts of the first clause:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Honestly, that sounds like overstating the obvious along with virtue signalling. The country had just emerged from a bloody Civil War, blacks were emancipated, so the ground was ripe to make major substantial changes in our laws. Prior to this amendment, non-black people were citizens of the various states, and none (except slaves) could be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law. Blacks were no longer slaves. Why restate? It appears as though the purpose was to make everyone a subject of the Federal Government rather than any state.
The answer given by Snowden is that it was an enormous power grab, and that thereafter the states would be subordinate to the Federal Government. It’s been so long that way now that we naturally think that the Supreme Court can rule on any issue, legislate, appoint a president, and overturn any law written at any level. None of that was the case before 1868. States were sovereign, boundaries existed, and the Supreme Court existed to protect the citizenry from legislative overreach. It could strike down laws at the federal level in whole, but not partially, and if a law passed muster, it could step back and do nothing.
I made a comment to this effect last night, and in response this morning received a comment from Darin linking us to this essay by Legalman making the same points, only longer and better. We have come so far, so much of our history has been wiped out or rewritten. Just know that the way we live, the things we know, are not the way were meant to live or be given to know.
Below is my original post on this subject.
Again, I am diverted, and trust me, my list of false leaders is enough material to write for the coming decade. Bernie Sanders is perhaps the least offensive of a large cast of characters.
A certain commenter, when backed into a corner and on his way toward the exit, will usually hit me with “Well, what’s your solution, Toke?” The answer is not to his liking, that when a patient has a cancer removed, he does not ask the doctor to replace it with another cancer just to feel whole. A system as corrupt as ours is beyond repair; power is so centralized and people are so fragmented by the power of TV that there’s no hope of “fixing” anything,
But there is a way out. I finished the book “Everything You Know About the Constitution is Wrong” by Edward James Snowden yesterday. Again, this Snowden is not to be confused with the fake whistle blower supposedly hiding out in Russia. He is some other guy. I have had a hard time running this guy down, but I have heard him interviewed (which is why I ordered the book), so I know he is real. The “about the author” page in the book is misdirection. He does not want to be known.
But the guy is a good writer, and has real depth, which is why I took my time, reading only a few pages at a time. His message is that our Constitution is a dead letter, and is since passage of the 14th Amendment internally contradictory.
For instance, while the 14th was ostensibly put in place to protect newly-freed slaves, of the 150 or so cases that came before the Supreme Court in the ensuing quarter century that invoked the 14th, only five or so involved freed slaves. The rest had to do with the business class trying to establish personhood for corporations, which they accomplished in 1886 via Santa Cara versus Southern Pacific Railway, (read down in link to Section 4.1) and by means of subterfuge.
The rest is history, hidden of course.
Snowden makes it clear that tyranny is always present and asserts itself like a magnet. The original Constitution was carefully crafted to prevent tyranny, but the authors knew the difficulties. After an exhaustive Civil War, where the original ideas of the Constitution had to be trashed to preserve the union, the door was opened, and within a generation the Constitution was dead. Today we have no left, no right, only corporate imperialism, and a country where elected officials are mere puppets to hidden power.
But there is a way out, and oddly enough, that way is incorporated in the original document – we have in place remnants of the original structure in the form of state governments. Of course these days they perform perfunctory duties like issuance of drivers licenses and management of fake elections. But in the original document, states are empowered to meet to amend or even replace the Constitution.
If 3/4 of our states agree on a new document, it is done, and done without permission or oversight of the Federal Government. It is possible, and immensely challenging. It would be a battle to the death with the oligarchs, but a battle worth fighting, as what we have now is a half-sunken ship.
We need escape to a new vessel