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Barack, Don't Ask Me - Show Me

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This is where it all ends. All the rules in the Democratic Party and the way business is done in Washington need to change. Barack Obama has promised us that he will do just that. He proved it, in part, by putting his money where his mouth is when he took control as the de facto leader of the party, and laid down the law that the DNC would do the same thing he has done with his campaign, prompting Howard Dean to immediately fall in line and announce:

"Senator Obama has promised to change the way things are done in Washington and this step is a sure sign of his commitment. The American people's priorities will set the agenda in an Obama Administration, not the special interests."

Steny Hoyer proved by his capitulation on FISA that seniority in the House of Representatives should not be the most important deciding factor in the leadership of the party. Obama needs to make that clear in his stump speeches, and he needs to start doing it immediately. He stayed silent during this ridiculous debacle in the House, and the first thing he should do is make sure that the majority leader in the Senate, Harry Reed, knows his place. His place is within the confines of the Constitution, and on that point, there is no "compromise."

As leader of the party, Obama now needs to take control of this matter in the same way he did with the DNC. And he needs to make it known that if Democratic lawmakers think they can step outside the lines of the Constitution, that they aren't worthy to serve the American People. 

Obama will win this election easily, no matter what he does. He will win it in the biggest landslide in American history if he makes this the defining issue of his campaign. And if he works during his presidency to right all the wrongs that every common person in the nation KNOWS are wrong, he will be one of the best-loved leaders the world has ever known. Obama should know by now that people don't love him for the man he is. They love him for the hope he inspires, because people see the potential for greatness in him. All of his support is completely based on the confidence that he will work for something greater than himself, and to keep that confidence - and that support - he must act in the way that best serves the People. This bill clearly does not do that.

Even more than that hope, Barack Obama has made it clear (so clear it's in bolded letters on his web site):

"I'M ASKING YOU TO BELIEVE. Not just in my ability to bring about real change in Washington ... I'm asking you to believe in yours."

Well, dammit -- MAKE ME BELIEVE!

Don't just ASK me.

I was ASKED to believe Iraq had nuclear weapons that they planned to use against us. I was ASKED to believe that Saddam was best buddies with al-Qaeda. I was ASKED to believe that we'd be in and out in six months, tops. I was ASKED to believe that the reconstruction of Iraq would be paid for with Iraqi oil dollars.

I am fed up with being ASKED.

This time, you gotta SHOW me.

What I know is that no person on this earth who has taught Constitutional Law could ever vote for the bill passed by the House today. Not if they are remotely intellectually honest. You don't even have to be morally honest to know that.

Having different opinions on proposed legislation is perfectly reasonable, as long as it is a reasonable opinion. Hoyer's opinion is unreasonable on its face, because any opinion that does not adhere to the basic principles of our Constitution is, by definition, unreasonable - unless the opinion is strong enough that the legislator holding that opinion is willing to amend the Constitution. If Steny Hoyer, or Jay Rockefeller, or Harry Reed think that the FISA "compromise" as passed by the House is really what our country needs, they should do the proper thing and propose a Constitutional amendment. Otherwise, there is no conceivable way to justify voting yes for the unconstitutional provisions included in the bill.

Let me say that again. No lawmaker, Republican or Democrat, can reasonably vote in the affirmative for the bill that the House just passed in its current form. It blatantly violates the Constitution, and they are obligated by their oath to vote no. If they believe the changes contained in the bill need to be made, I can respect that. I don't agree, but I respect their opinion. But their opinion doesn't mean squat when voting on legislation that so clearly does not comply with the Constitution they swore to protect and defend. That is why the Founders provided a way to modify or amend our founding charter. But in order to make such radical changes, they included checks and balances in the document itself that set a higher standard than passing mere statutes.

It is the very reason that the unconstitutional provisions in the Military Commissions Act were just struck down by the Supreme Court. You can't change the Constitution by passing a statute.

Amendments to the Constitution must be passed by 2/3 vote in each house, and be ratified by 3/4 of the states. Presidents cannot veto Constitutional amendments. There is a reason amendments are so hard to make: the Founders made the Constitution to be "idiot-proof." They wanted it to work for the good of the People, even if they were governed by idiots. It seems that in George W. Bush, and a perfect storm of ultra-partisan Republicans and ultra-spineless Democrats, the Founders have finally found the idiot to match wits with.

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JC Garrett is a freelance writer and Constitutional scholar from the piney-woods of East Texas. Mr. Garrett owns and operates an independent recording studio, plays several instruments, writes, sings, and produces music. His stories have (more...)
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