Friday, February 09, 2018

What Is a "Constitutional Crisis"?

What is a “Constitutional Crisis”?

Generically speaking, a "constitution" consists of all of the formal and informal rules under which the government functions. In the United States this includes the literal written Constitution. It also includes the informal rules whereby the written Constitution is put into effect.

A constitution requires the voluntary choice of individuals to abide by its rules and principles. Clearly, if everybody were to ignore the Constitution, then it would simply be a piece of paper with no force or authority. It only has force and authority to the degree that people generally grant it force and authority.

A constitutional crisis occurs when some individual or group puts their own interests above the Constitution (denying it force or authority), and those whose interest in that constitution lack the means or the will to force their compliance. In other words, a constitutional crisis exists where there is a problem that the constitution cannot solve or where the people lack the will and the power to enforce a solution.

A rule does not have to be explicitly broken to undermine the Constitution. It is enough that one acts so as to make the constitution impotent in some regard.

Though President Donald Trump says, “America first,” in fact it has always been “Trump first” In fact, it is “Trump first, last, and only.” There is no evidence of him putting anything above himself, except perhaps his children. Even in this latter case, Trump’s interest seems to be in the Trump dynasty and not in his children as persons.

The Constitution means nothing to him. He does not even know what it says.

So, we have a President who lacks an interest in conforming his behavior to the Constitution.

This becomes a constitutional crisis when the Constitution gets in the way of what Trump does value and others lack the power and will to protect the constitution.

To defend the Constitution, power and will must reside in the same body.

If those with the power lack the will - if, indeed, they are a party to the President’s disregard for the Constitution because they see that following him gives them (unconstitutional) power as well, then the Constitution will not be enforced.

If those with the will lack the power then, quite obviously by definition, they cannot mount an effective defense of the Constitution.

We have good evidence that David Nunes (California, District 22) has allied himself with Trump against the Constitution. His decision to push through a “memo” filled with misrepresentations and half-truths to undermine an investigation that aims at protecting and defending the Constitution shows that he does not see defending and protecting the Constitution to be a priority.

While Nunes may have mouthed the words promising to protect and defend the Constitution, in his heart he seeks instead to protect and defend Trump (or, more likely, to protect and promote Nunes, where he expects adequate compensation from Trump for his decision to side with Trump rather than the Constitution).

It is also the case that the vote to release the memo was among party lines, meaning that accomplices to this action include Peter King (New York - 2nd District), Frank LoBiondo (New Jersey - 2nd District), Thomas Rooney (Florida, 17th District), Chris Stewart (Utah, 2nd District), Michael Conaway (Texas, 11th District), Eric Crawford (Arizona, 1st District), Trey Gowdy (South Carolina, 4th District), Will Hurd (Texas, 23rd District), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Florida, 27th District), Elise Stefanik (New York, 21st District), Michael Turner (Ohio, 10th District), and Brad Wenstrup (Ohio, 2nd District).

While, for these other committee members, it takes some courage to go against the crowd and be a lone dissenter, when it comes to being a Representative and standing up for the Constitution over political expedience, courage of this type is to be expected. Consequently, there is no justification for leniency on this account.

Will Hurd (Texas, 23rd District) wrote an opinion piece for the Washington Post, "Why I voted to release the Nunes memo" where he attempted to justify his actions on the grounds of a "duty to inform the American public".

However, a duty to inform is a duty to supply true and accurate information on which others can make informed decisions. One does not fulfill such a duty by manipulating people with misleading half-truths whose purpose is to undermine an investigation that aims to protect and defend the Constitution. The FBI released a statement expressing "grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy." This is a long-winded way of saying, "lying by omission."

So, we have an immoral act (lying by omission) for the sake of defending Trump rather than the Constitution. Consequently, Hurd has placed himself in second place behind Nunes among the committee members going to extra effort to precipitate a constitutional crisis.

Meanwhile, we are still searching for people with the will and the power to defend the Constitution.

There is an election coming up. In the United States, power ultimately rests in the hands of the people as voters. So, as a last resort, we must see, in 2018, whether those with the power to defend the Constitution have the will to do so.

No comments: