When Winning Is Really Losing

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NOTE: The following is Michael Boldin’s “Tenther Rant” from episode 15 of Tenther Radio. Listen to the audio version at this link.

Recently, a long-time commenter on the TenthAmendmentCenter.com website had this to say:

“Being a purist is generally another way of saying being a loser in a large Federation.”

This was in regards to the Presidential candidacy and foreign policy views of Ron Paul. The idea being that since Paul’s foreign policy ideas were, according to our commenter, far out of the current mainstream of Republican voters, that Paul needed to shift his positions to ensure the potential for being a winner.

When I respond here, I’m certainly not limiting my viewpoints to the candidacy of Ron Paul, to viewpoints on foreign policy, or anything else for that matter. Instead, I think this applies to everything politically.

Haven’t We Had Enough “Winners” In This Country?

For more than a century, we’ve had winners on the left, and winners on the right. And not a single one of them — not one — has followed the Constitution as they were supposed to, and as we at the Tenth Amendment Center demand — every issue, every time, no exceptions and no excuses.

The 10th Amendment was the exclamation point on the Constitution — reinforcing the fact that “We the People” of the several States created the Federal government. Not the other way around. And, we created that government to be our agent for certain, enumerated purposes… and nothing more.

James Madison — you might have heard his name associated with the moniker “Father of the Constitution” — put it this way:

“The powers delegated by the Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.”

Few and defined?

Well, depending on how you count it, there are approximately 30 powers that have been delegated to the Federal government in the Constitution, most of which reside in Article I, Section 8.

Thirty powers. That’s all.

But, if you were somehow able to read through all of the U.S. Code and the Code of Federal Regulations, you would have to go through tens of thousands of pages of Federal laws and regulations. And it’s not like Presidents have been waging epic battles with Congress over the years, vetoing bill after bill and having those vetoes overridden. Instead, almost nothing gets vetoed. Even Ronald Reagan, the President that many Constitutionalists idolize as their champion, only vetoed 39 times in an eight-year period.

Five vetoes per year? Nah, no thanks. To me, that’s as good as zero.

At this point, what should a President do to stand up for the Constitution? If we want to err on the side of the Constitution, let’s keep it simple.

A Constitutional President should pretty much veto everything!

Take A Hike!

That’s what a Constitutional President would say to Congress on almost everything they pass.

And hopefully, this brings me back to my initial point — that it’s not OK to be a kinda-Constitutionalist. Or a mostly-Constitutionalist. Or what we almost always have, a partisan-Constitutionalist.

Whether they’re from the left or the right, conservative or liberal — or anywhere in between — all politicians claim to support and follow the Constitution. And every now and then, most of them say something right. But, it’s very little and there’s almost no consistency.

From both sides we’ve seen opposition to violations of your liberties on some issues, but not on others. We’ve seen opposition to some undeclared, unConstitutional wars, but not on others. We’ve seen support for limiting government actions in some areas, but not in others. And sadly, the support and opposition often changes based on which political party is holding power at a given time.

But that’s best left for another conversation.

The fact of the matter, though, is this — both sides have allowed, turned a blind eye to, and even actively promoted massive Constitutional violations for far too long.

Year in and year out, politicians tell us that there’s some kind of emergency, real or pretended, and they need to have new powers to prevent all kinds of horrors and death.

Corporate bailouts, Social Security, Environmental Regulations, the USA Patriot Act, the Department of Energy, Wars in Vietnam, Iraq and elsewhere, the Department of Education, massive military spending, the Department of Energy, foreign aid, the War on Drugs, FEMA, the FDA and too much more to list — have all been sold to us on fear. And all of them are unConstitutional.

When you allow politicians to bend the rules of the Constitution or break them outright — even if it’s for a good reason, or to hopefully stop some outcome YOU are afraid of — and you let them do it year in and year out for decades — sooner or later you’ll end up with politicians who feel that the rules, the Constitution that is, don’t apply at all.

And if we’re not already there today, we’re pretty damn close.

That’s why I vehemently reject our commenter’s opposition to being a purist. Oppose the ideas, maybe. Disagree with the principles, sure. But oppose a position because it might not be a winner? Never.

That’s why our motto here at the Tenth Amendment Center is so simple. The Constitution. Every issue, every time. No exceptions, no excuses.

I’m hoping that you, like me, are sick and tired of people who advocate winning above all else. “Winning” is what’s gotten us where we are today, and “winning” has really been losing for all of us.

Like my parents used to tell my brother and me when we fought as children — “you’re both wrong” — it’s time for people who love liberty to do the same to Democrats and Republicans alike.

Both sides have been wrong for far too long. And every day we tolerate it for the sake of winning, we add one more link to the chains of our own shackles.

–Michael Boldin

Michael Boldin

is the founder and executive director of the Tenth Amendment Center. Michael has a full schedule working as senior editor of the Center's website, writes a regular column, fields media interviews, and travels the country (when invited, of course) to speak to crowds about sticking to the Constitution — every issue, every time, no exceptions, no excuses.[send him email]

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