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Constitution

SPECIAL REPORT Part II: Who I Want for President

September 15th, 2014 // 10:34 am @

Diverging Paths

Constitution We the People 1024x371 SPECIAL REPORT Part II: Who I Want for President

The good news is that the 2016 presidential election has the power to put America back on the right track.

The bad news is that same election could make things a whole lot worse for us.

If the United States votes for eight more years of a White House philosophy that believes in more big government, 2016 will be the year we officially endorsed the decline of America.

In a recent article I suggested that Rand Paul or Mitt Romney have a real chance in the next election. I received a lot of responses to this article—more than usual.

Some of them agreed, others showed support for these or different candidates (Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Rick Perry, Paul Ryan, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, etc.), and still others suggested that the Democratic party is our best hope.

In all this, nobody addressed my main point. It went something like this:

“Wouldn’t it be nice if we elected a president who actually believed in following the letter of the Constitution? How refreshing! What a great boost that would be for freedom—in the U.S. and around the world.”

Freedom President

election 2016 canstockphoto20144380 300x204 SPECIAL REPORT Part II: Who I Want for PresidentI suggested that Rand Paul would likely be that kind of leader, and I’m convinced that Mike Huckabee, Mike Lee, and perhaps others would fit this mold.

Think about it! What a powerful concept: A president who reads the Constitution and simply follows it. Now that’s a truly great idea.

The problem is that presidents don’t do this anymore. Worse, the American people don’t even expect them to do it.

The truth is that most recent presidents would tell you they did follow the Constitution, but when they say this they’re talking about the Supreme Court’s definition of the Constitution. That’s not what I mean.

I’m referring to following the Constitution the way the American founders used the phrase: by reading what it says, and following it. Not by using Supreme Court rulings or Attorney General letters as excuses or grants of executive authority.

This is a really big deal. If we don’t read the document and just follow it,* we aren’t really benefiting from what the Constitution is all about.

And freedom will continue to decline.

Contrast Politics

For example, when President Obama announced major airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, he made sure to point out that he had the authority to order such military operations without any vote from Congress.

He called this following the Constitution, but it isn’t. The document is very clear: only Congress can vote for long-term military operations.

The president can act to stop a direct, immediate threat to the U.S. homeland, but anything beyond that requires a decision by Congress.

In contrast to Obama’s words, when Rand Paul was asked if the president needed Congressional authority for his long-term military plan, he responded that yes, this is exactly what the Constitution says.

It was refreshing to hear a top potential presidential candidate refer to the authority of the Constitution instead of the interpretations of the Court.

Sadly, Americans aren’t accustomed to hearing such words. Politicians refer to past precedents, the War Powers Act, Supreme Court decisions, earlier Congressional approvals that could be interpreted to apply in the current situation, and other policies—and all these distract from the real point.

The framers wrote the Constitution so the regular people could read and tell—with no help from experts—when their government officials were following it and when they weren’t.

False Authority and Failing Checks

It has become commonplace for the White House to simply ignore the Constitution, to intervene when and where it chooses, without regard to the document, and to claim that the Court gave it such power or that Congress allowed it such powers.

But the Constitution doesn’t give the Court or Congress the authority to grant the executive any powers. The Court can check the Oval Office, as can Congress, but neither have the Constitutional power give the Executive additional authority.

The people, not the Court, are the final experts on the Constitution. Presidents routinely pay little heed to the Constitution because the people let them get away with it.

The people keep electing candidates who openly say the role of the president is to go beyond the Constitution—especially in foreign relations, but also in domestic policy. As long as we keep voting this way, we keep losing more freedom.

Recent presidents from both parties have egregiously ignored the Constitution. And among the current potential candidates for president, it is commonplace to speak of following the Constitution and mean the modern, Beltway view of the president’s powers—ignoring the actual words in the document itself.

That’s why I’m so impressed when I hear Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee talk in a totally different way. Or Mike Lee, though he’s shown no interest in the 2016 presidency.

Again, wouldn’t it be great to elect a president who doesn’t consult Washington insiders but rather the pages of the U.S. Constitution when an issue arises.

Imagine a president who would tell Congress that we need serious military action but he won’t take it without their approving vote.

That kind of leadership is sorely missing in America, and one of the top causes of our decline.

Keepers Above the Law

One root of the problem is that most Americans today don’t really believe in limits on government. For example, just watch how the police behave in almost every cop-oriented television drama and movie.

They frequently don’t wait for a warrant, they smash in doors of homes and apartments with guns waiving and SWAT units swarming. The good cops, the best officers in these shows, are the ones who push the law to its furthest limits and even break it when they deem it “necessary.”

The more they ignore or circumvent the Constitutional guidelines and get away with it, the better cops they are. Or so they are portrayed.

I’m not saying that the Hollywood version of police actions is always accurate in real life (though the increased militarization of law enforcement is a serious, growing threat to regular citizens).

I am saying that these TV dramas and movies are a very real portrayal of how most Americans believe the cops are and should be.

This is what our culture has come to consider good police work—finding ways to sneak around or get away with just ignoring Constitutional limits, protections, and due process.

Vice as Virtue

Most Americans won’t say it in so many words, but they are used to thinking of police officers as above the law in many—if not most—situations, and of expecting the good cops to bend the “annoying” Constitutional limits and just do whatever is needed to go get the bad guys.

And if this is how they see the police, consider how much more they admire this same bravado in the President.

Of course, both parties whine when a president from the other party exerts unconstitutional influence or executive orders to expand his power. But they frequently defend their own party’s president in the same, or worse, abuses.

It’s literally endemic in our modern system. It bears repeating until we realize what a major threat this is!

Hawaii Five 0 2nd Season Cast 300x168 SPECIAL REPORT Part II: Who I Want for PresidentThe way our majority culture now sees it, the best cops and government leaders do whatever it takes, even bending or ignoring the Constitutional rules, to “do the right thing.”

Think of the most popular police dramas and movies—the main character(s) is always the “good guy” who breaks the Constitutional boundaries in service of the greater good.

NCIS, CSI, Blue Bloods, Hawaii Five-0, Law and Order, Chicago PD, Arrow, Bones, Castle, Criminal Minds, NCIS Los Angeles, Agents of SHIELD, Scandal, Covert Affairs, 24, The Blacklist, and many others, all follow this plotline.

These aren’t obscure programs; they are among the most popular in our era. One or more of them is almost always playing on American prime time, and our culture is inundated with their messages.

The Power of 2016

This is how we see government officials, and especially the government agents who carry guns or work in the Oval Office. Again, I’m not saying people openly support this view in polls; I’m saying it is now part of our gut-level cultural expectation.

A majority of Americans now think government agents can and even should routinely push and even break Constitutional limits.

Yes, some people watch cop shows or government dramas and think, “That’s terrible! How can our leaders consistently get away with just disregarding and even flouting the Constitution? They should be reprimanded and removed.” But such Americans are a small minority.

Most of the electorate considers such behavior by police and top executive officials as the norm, and as what is needed to get the job done.

When someone they personally know or identify with gets pushed around, they cry unfair. But when it’s just other people suffering at the hands of abusive government actions, most voters turn a blind eye.

Would I like something different, a president who reads the Constitution to see if he has the authority for a certain action and then realizes he doesn’t and chooses to stay within the bounds of that great document? You bet I would. The future of freedom depends on it.

The thing is, I think we actually have the power to elect such a leader in 2016. Watch what the potential candidates say. So far, Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee are excellent examples of leaders who talk a lot about following the Constitution and really stand for this approach. Regardless of political parties, that’s the kind of President we want.

                                                          

* Of course, the people have made changes to it over time, including the Amendments and the end of slavery and reduction of racism (there is more work to be done on this). Note that these changes were made by the people, not the federal government, and following them is in keeping with the people overseeing their leaders and holding them to the Constitution.

 

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odemille SPECIAL REPORT Part II: Who I Want for President Oliver DeMille is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling co-author of LeaderShift: A Call for Americans to Finally Stand Up and Lead, the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

Among many other works, he is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, The Coming Aristocracy, and FreedomShift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah

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SPECIAL REPORT: Mitt Romney Will Run and Win- Oliver DeMille

September 11th, 2014 // 10:50 am @

(A Tale of Four Candidates)

Prediction: Mitt Romney is running for president. And, if current trends continue, he’s going to win.

640px Mitt Romney by Gage Skidmore 6 SPECIAL REPORT: Mitt Romney Will Run and Win  Oliver DeMilleRand Paul and Hillary Clinton are running as well. It’s just a matter of time until all three of these future candidates announce, but in the meantime something interesting is happening to this election.

It is being determined by stealth, and the major players are world events—especially in Russia, China, and the Middle East.

In the 2008 election Hillary Clinton was the unanimous frontrunner.

But she lost the nomination because she promoted a strong, aggressive foreign policy while newcomer Barack Obama promised to get America out of Iraq, Afghanistan, and even Guantanamo.

This gave candidate Obama the natural lead in a war-weary nation frustrated about the lack of WMDs in Iraq.

Clinton and McCain talked aggressively about foreign affairs, but the voters wanted to get out of world conflicts and refocus on the home front.They voted for Obama.

In a very similar way, the next presidential election is already gearing up. With the recent resurgence of threats from Putin and Russia, along with continual crises in Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Libya, Israel, Syria, Palestine, and now the constant news coverage on ISIS, Americans are increasingly seeing the need for a strong leader in the White House.

Golf and Governing

Foreign affairs are once again foremost in the American electorate’s emotion center (with worries about China still simmering just under the surface)—but the emphasis is on standing strong and facing down threats instead of getting away from them.

If the storyline shifts by 2016 and the American people once again want to get out of foreign interventions and focus more on the home front, Rand Paul will receive the kind of huge popularity boost that propelled Barack Obama to the White House in 2008.

But right now we’re witnessing something very different. Each recent move from the Obama Administration has been met with major opposition from Democrats as well as Republicans.

If the president plays golf during a crisis, Congressional leaders from both parties criticize him.

If he dresses in his power suit and fills thirty minutes of prime time television announcing a major military initiative, looking straight into the camera and talking tough, national leaders from both parties spend the next three hours and days arguing against his plans—filling the airwaves with every conceivable criticism.

Short Power, Short View

There is a general lack of trust in the president right now, no matter what he does, and it comes from both parties and also the media, even many of the media outlets that have historically been very supportive of the Obama Administration.

Moreover, the president has a low approval rating and a very high level of American voters who mistrust his leadership.

Part of this stems from the fickle nature of the American electorate. Americans overwhelmingly supported going into Afghanistan, and also Iraq. A few years later they overwhelmingly supported getting out.

Today strong majorities want to use our military against ISIS; the more we do, the more likely it is that most Americans will soon be clamoring for us to bring these same troops home.

As a nation, we seem to like the idea of using our power—we just want its use to be short and decisive.

The same thing happens with domestic programs. A majority demanded health care reform; once it passed, the criticisms began. The longer we’ve watched Obamacare roll out, the less support it has among the electorate.

This is repeated in many ways in current U.S. politics.

But there is a bigger reality at work here. The nation is tired of the direction we’re taking. In 2008 the voters blamed it on Bush and put Obama in office. Today the electorate blames it increasingly on Obama.

And with the rise of general concern about foreign threats, both Clinton and Paul will be seen as a bit soft on foreign aggressors. They’re not, but the populace still sees it this way.

Bigger Power

During all this there is one powerful, recurring thread: President Obama is frequently broadcast in the media at his worst and weakest, and Mitt Romney appears on one news program after another—constantly commenting on what we should be doing in international conflicts. His answers are refreshingly different from Obama’s, and he sounds both credible and wise.

Indeed, Romney has accomplished something he never pulled off during the campaign—he projects a consistent, confident message of American strength.

Romney looks a lot more presidential in these clips than the president in his golf clothes. Indeed, the television optics during the last few months of Russian and Middle Eastern crises constitutes a major victory for Romney.

After all, Romney told Obama during the 2012 presidential debates that Russia was a major threat—and Obama scoffed at him. Romney warned of a slowed economy that would need serious free enterprise action to get moving again. Obama sneered at this view. Romney was right; Obama wasn’t.

The electorate is now sneering in the other direction. It has largely lost faith in Obama. And when it sees Romney responding to the latest international problem, he oozes competence while Obama and Hillary evoke immediate skepticism.

If the election were held next week, Romney would win.

But we’ve got over two years until the next presidential election, and a lot will happen between now and then. Not the least of which is the 2014 midterm congressional election.

Foreign and Domestic

randpaul 300x263 SPECIAL REPORT: Mitt Romney Will Run and Win  Oliver DeMilleWith all that said, world events may well be the biggest influence on who becomes America’s next commander in chief. If foreign problems maintain their current pace, Romney will most likely be the next president.

If not, we may be faced with a very interesting situation, where a Hawkish Democrat (Hillary Clinton) faces a more non-interventionist Republican (Rand Paul).

While I personally agree with the less interventionist view and would love to see a President Rand Paul lead a White House that actually believes in following the U.S. Constitution, I think world events make this unlikely. Sad.

Ultimately, there is a lot more to this than mere politics. America’s power in international affairs won’t be as important to the future of the nation as whether or not the next president rekindles freedom in our economy.

This is what Romney or Paul offers. Hillary Clinton, or Elizabeth Warren if Hillary falters, will likely keep acting like Washington is the center of our business and economic success. This is the battle: freedom versus bigger government.

This is the great American decision of 2016.

The importance of this choice is almost impossible to overstate!

Ironically, this vital decision will probably be made by foreign aggressors, by what they do or don’t do, and how their actions influence the American electorate in the months and years just ahead.

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odemille SPECIAL REPORT: Mitt Romney Will Run and Win  Oliver DeMille Oliver DeMille is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling co-author of LeaderShift: A Call for Americans to Finally Stand Up and Lead, the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

Among many other works, he is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, The Coming Aristocracy, and FreedomShift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah

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The “BIG” Problem by Oliver DeMille

July 30th, 2014 // 7:53 pm @

The Wrong Size

The BIG problem no exceptions 996x1024 The BIG Problem by Oliver DeMille

The “BIG” problem isn’t just hugely important, it’s also the incredible set of challenges that are created when any institution, organization, or endeavor is just plain too big. This problem is predictable, and therefore solvable, but only if the right people are keeping an eye on the right things.

Specifically, our modern government is too big. Period. Until this problem is remedied, we will continue to see crisis after crisis after crisis, each followed by infighting, gridlock, dysfunction, and major mistakes from Washington and both parties. As long as the government tries to do too much on too big a scale, it will continue to do many things poorly.

In fact, our government reached this turning point (too big to be efficient) in the late 1960s. As Micklethwait and Woolridge put it: “By the 1970s, the U.S. government seemed to be spoiling everything it touched…” (Foreign Affairs, vol. 93, no. 4, p. 126) And the size and scope of its endeavors have more than quadrupled since.

The Two Crises

This has created two overarching crises that never seem to dissipate. In fact, they’ll continue to fester and grow as long as the government grows. First, a government too big to be effective or efficient tends to infectiously weaken the effectiveness and efficiency of everything it touches—and at the same time it habitually tries to touch more and more. This dull, inevitable march to control more parts of life and the economy (and inadvertently make them all less effective) has killed every great world power in history.

Its occurrence in the United States is now the defining characteristic of our century—for the whole globe.

Second, the bigger the government gets once reaching this point of inefficiency, the less it fulfills its primary mission. For the framers, the role of what they called the “general government” (meaning the federal government, what we now usually call the “national government” or even, tellingly, “the government”), was national security and the protection of freedom.

The framers saw no other role for Washington. It’s raison de etre was to protect inalienable rights and defend the nation. Nothing else. In fact, the Constitution was designed specifically to ensure that it did nothing else. Worried that they hadn’t quite made this certain, the founding generation then added the Bill of Rights to make absolutely sure that the federal government only did these two things.

Then, just in case they hadn’t made it clear enough, they added the Ninth Amendment to the Bill of Rights. But even then they worried that they hadn’t done enough to limit the federal government. So they added the Tenth Amendment as well: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”

“We want the federal government to protect inalienable rights and maintain national security, and do nothing else!” they tried to say (the Constitution). Then, “And we mean it (the Bill of Rights). We really mean it (the Ninth Amendment). Seriously, we truly, totally, emphatically, mean it! (the Tenth Amendment).”

Richard A. Epstein wrote: “…the two central concerns of constitutional law” are “institutional structure and individual rights.” (Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, vol. 37, no. 3, p. 705) The purpose of institutional structure is to secure individual rights, not vice versa.

The People or the Government?

But when the focus of government becomes too big, well beyond the Constitutional powers of protecting rights and maintaining the national defense, the individual rights of the people become a resource to be bargained, traded or sacrificed in the name of institutional structure. “Think not what you can do for your country, but what your country can do with or without your consent for itself,” becomes the operating principle.

The people, the individuals, are forgotten in this new arrangement. They become a cypher, expendable, unimportant. Not citizens but voters. Not a nation of, by, and for the people, but now people for, by, and of the nation (meaning whatever Washington says). In other words, an aristocracy, where elites run the nation and control the people who live in it.

This isn’t the founding model of Americanism at all. It’s the opposite. It’s top-down government, not Jefferson’s bottom-up democracy. As such, it is fundamentally authoritarian, not a self-governing republic. This has created two natural results: national decline as the world’s sole superpower, and the decline of individual freedoms.

Both declines will continue as long as the “BIG” problem (the government is too big) persists.

The Cause

But what can be done, realistically? The federal government can be held to its Constitutional boundaries. It can be limited to national defense and the protection of the inalienable rights of its citizens. This is why the government was created in the first place, and when it tries to do anything else beyond these two roles it is both unconstitutional and also destructive to freedom, prosperity, and happiness.

The people still have the power to remedy this, in every election, if they’ll choose to vote wisely.

Note that nearly all nations in both the free and the authoritarian world are facing the “BIG” Problem. Following America’s lead, or in some cases simply striking out on their own, modern governments are drastically expanding—not sticking to their wise or constitutional limits. For example, the debt of governments around the world “…reached $50.6 trillion in 2013, compared with just $22 trillion in 2003.” (Ibid. p. 130)

At this rate, the fall of individual freedoms to the “BIG” Problem is all but ensured.

This trajectory isn’t surprising in the authoritarian nations, where elites openly rule the masses. But in the free nations, it is a relatively new development, one that began in the United States with the advent of the GI Bill after World War II. Before this time, education generally emphasized the classics and the great skills of deep reading (e.g. The Federalist), writing and thinking.

The BIG problem Period 1024x858 The BIG Problem by Oliver DeMille

When the government began massively funding higher education, schools changed their emphasis to job and career training, and subsequent generations of Americans stopped learning to read. Of course, they gained literacy, but as a nation we lost our high level of what I’ve called Leadership Education and what E.D. Hirsch called Cultural Literacy—a deep understanding of the same things our leaders read and think about.

In fact, before 1945, the primary focus of American education was for each child, youth and citizen to read the same books and think about the same ideas and questions as their Presidents, Senators, Judges, and leading CEOs.

Allan Bloom called this momentous shift away from cultural literacy “the closing of the American mind,” and he warned that unless we reversed this trend democracy was doomed. We didn’t reverse it, and as a result, as mentioned above, “By the 1970s, the U.S. government seemed to be spoiling everything it touched…” (Op Cit)

In the 2010s, the dearth of leadership education is a wholesale national crisis. Very few people know how to really read the fine print of government any more. In such situations, rule by elites is the only historical norm.

If we are merely voters rather than engaged citizens, we vote poorly. We are swayed by media, photogenicism, and campaign popularity contests. We ignore the fact that candidates lie, or more accurately that once in office they routinely fail to live up to their campaign promises.

We become a nation of children, led around by our elite handlers, rather than a nation of adults who closely scan government actions and keep our politicians and their policies on a tight leash.

Again, the fundamental problem is that we aren’t in the habit of reading or thinking like leaders. For example, consider the following commentary from a contemporary source:

“Freedom of speech” in “freedom of speech, or of the press” means the freedom of all to speak; this suggests that “freedom…of the press” in the same phrase means the freedom of all to use the press. Reading “freedom” to mean “freedom of every person to engage in an activity” when “freedom” relates to “speech,” but reading the same word in the same place as meaning “the freedom of some particular group of people” when it relates to “the press” is not how users of the English language use these kinds of closely connected clauses…” (Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, vol. 37, no. 3, p. 733)

Most moderns don’t enjoy reading such paragraphs. They wonder what it is about, why it matters, and why they should read it at all. They have to dig to ascertain it’s meaning, and even then they feel a bit unsure. They consider it the kind of reading to be done by experts, not every citizen. Yet this is the argument a Supreme Court Justice used to make the case that everyone has the right to share their opinions openly—against some who argued that the only ones with this right are actually professional reporters and journalists.

This is a huge deal, with massive consequences to our freedom. Yet almost the only people who read such paragraphs are experts. In the founder’s time, the regular citizens read such ideas and discussed them at length. In our day, we don’t.

Then, when we go to the ballot box, we vote very differently than the founders or any other people who actually closely study and understand the fine print. No nation keeps its freedoms when the regular people don’t read, think, and spend time analyzing the same things as their political officials. Every nation that leaves political details to the experts loses its freedom to a professional expert governing class. There are no exceptions in history.

Yet today we are two nations: the masses, who focus on their careers (from kindergarten through retirement) and entertainments, and the elites who read the fine print and understand it—and use the education of their children to pass on these same skills and interests. This is aristocracy, pure and simple. Freedom and democracy cannot last in such a climate.

One more example, though there are thousands that could be used:

“…today we have about 5,000 federal criminal statutes on the books, most added in the last few decades [since the shift of the 1970s]. And the spigot keeps pouring, with hundreds of new statutory crimes inked every few years. Neither does that begin to count the thousands of additional regulatory crimes buried in the federal register. There are so many crimes cowled in the numbing fine print of those pages that scholars actually debate their number.” (Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, vol. 37, no. 3, p. 747.)

This is the “BIG” Problem in a nutshell. If people don’t know the law, how can they obey the law? If government becomes so big that only the experts know the law, we are living in an aristocracy. But when government becomes so big that even the experts don’t know the law, the nation itself is in danger. Everything the government touches weakens, and the government tries to touch everything. This is today’s America.

The Solution

The answer is to teach the current generation of youth how to read. Really read, in the Allan Bloom, culturally literate, Leadership Education way of reading. Such reading empowers the regular people to think about the same ideas the experts, government officials, and top leaders are thinking about. This creates a nation that is capable of a democratic republic, and of freedom.

No other education allows a citizenry to remain free.

This starts by teaching young people (and adults, where needed) to read the classics. Then to read the scholarly journals and other deep writings of experts and government officials. Without this skill, and this habit, freedom is always lost.

Ironically, most people reject this solution because it takes too long, and can compete with their kids’ career training. This is exactly the short-term viewpoint that is trained into the masses by conveyor-belt schooling. The elites, in contrast, make this a major priority. They ensure that their youth have a leadership education above all else. They know this is the key to their future power. Elite private schools train leadership through the classics.

People who don’t read the classics, the scholarly journals and writings, and important government documents, are part of the masses. Those who do are part of the ruling elites. The goal is to get the majority of citizens reading these things. Only then are the people the rulers, and only then is a nation free.

The “BIG” Problem can only be solved the LITTLE Solution: you reading the classics, journals and other deep writings, and government documents—a little each day. If you don’t do this, you will witness less freedom and the major decline of your nation, and even less freedom for your children and grandchildren.

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odemille The BIG Problem by Oliver DeMille Oliver DeMille is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling co-author of LeaderShift: A Call for Americans to Finally Stand Up and Lead, the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

Among many other works, he is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, The Coming Aristocracy, and FreedomShift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah

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Friends of Foes? (Obama’s Liberal Detractors Grow) by Oliver DeMille

June 30th, 2014 // 6:57 am @

President Versus

Modern citizens tend to see what happens in Washington as mainly partisan, timesup 746x1024 Friends of Foes? (Obamas Liberal Detractors Grow) by Oliver DeMilleand certainly party disputes are a major part of our governance. But they aren’t the only conflict in play.

In fact, James Madison pointed out in Federalist 10 that freedom is protected when factions, parties, government branches, and even levels of government are pitted against each other.

When Democrats in the White House find themselves arguing with Democrats in the Congress, for example, or when House Republicans face off against conservative governors and other state- and local-level Republican officials, the normal power of partisan politics can be reduced.

Everyone tends to benefit when this happens, because it creates an additional check on any part of government seeking too much power.

If anything, it is unfortunate that this doesn’t occur more often.

Right now the Democratic Party is dealing with just such an internal battle. It takes the form of the President versus Congressional candidates who are running for office this year and need to break from the White House in order to get enough votes. Also the President versus Hillary Clinton and other potential Democratic presidential candidates who are trying to build their own following.

It also includes the President versus various Democratic Washington insiders who feel that his more controversial policies are hurting the Party. And the President versus past members of his administration, current members who keep “leaking” inside scoops to the media, and the usually liberal media that is now pressing the President more aggressively than at any point since his election in 2008.

Freedom is protected 2 945x1024 Friends of Foes? (Obamas Liberal Detractors Grow) by Oliver DeMille

Fighting Allies

In short, it seems to be the President versus a lot, if not most, of his own Party—not just in Washington but in many states and locales as well.

George Will noted that the President has faced strong opposition among his own party in a number of major crises during the past year. Such conflicts include sharp criticism about the failures of the Obamacare website, the Snowden revelations about government spying on its own people, the IRS scandal, the White House “negotiating with terrorists” and swapping prisoners with the Taliban, the President’s seeming weakness in dealing with Putin and the Ukraine, the controversial EPA rules, Democratic opposition to Presidential appointments (e.g. Larry Summers), Democratic resistance to the President’s attempts to use force in Syria, etc.

All in all, the President’s own party is rendering his policy agenda and even his responses to national crises very difficult. Oh, and no surprise, the Republicans are doing their part to oppose him as well. But it is the division in his own party that is really creating a problem for him—the word popping up now in the press is “incompetence” or “a lack of presidential competence.”

Most national Democratic leaders are quick to verbally support the President in conversations with Republicans, but among their constituents and on Capitol Hill they are increasingly going their own way. Even when it directly conflicts with the Administration.

As the elections heat up for 2014 and in preparation for the big one in 2016, many Democrats are finding that Obamacare and perceived problems with the Obama Administration are hurting them among voters. They are naturally distancing themselves from the Oval Office, and this trend is spreading.

Lasting Wisdom

amazing constitution 773x1024 Friends of Foes? (Obamas Liberal Detractors Grow) by Oliver DeMilleMadison wanted a divided government (3 branches competing against each other, as well as the state and federal levels closely watching the excesses of the other), and the constitutional system is at least partially still working in this way. To have Democrats checking Democrats and Republicans checking each other brings an extra smile to many independents. If a Republican were in the White House, a major international crisis could bring the GOP together in support of the President, but it doesn’t seem likely that anything similar will help President Obama. In fact, international affairs seem to be the focal point of the Democratic divisions.

The most powerful “Tea Party” work seems to be occurring among a growing number of Democrats who are committed to checking what they consider to be excesses of the current Administration.

The Constitution never ceases to amaze! Even as Washington grows to massive levels and most Americans agree that the government is deeply broken, the framers’ wisdom still manages to keep even the most powerful office in the world from exerting truly unchecked influence. This must be frustrating to those in power. Bravo Madison, Dickinson, Franklin and all your colleagues. Bravo!

Of course, if the framers were here today, they’d no doubt point out that this will only last so long. If we don’t become the kind of citizen-leaders they were, we will lose the rest of our freedoms—sooner rather than later.

(If you haven’t read Oliver DeMille’s new book, We Hold These Truths To Be Self-Evident, this is a great place to start! This may be one of the most important books so far in the 21st Century. It is truly a Must Read!)

 

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odemille Friends of Foes? (Obamas Liberal Detractors Grow) by Oliver DeMille Oliver DeMille is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling co-author of LeaderShift: A Call for Americans to Finally Stand Up and Lead, the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

Among many other works, he is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, The Coming Aristocracy, and FreedomShift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah

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Where Do You Stand on a Constitutional Convention?

June 3rd, 2014 // 11:18 am @

An Invitation to Join the Current Debate

Please participate in a conversation with us. Here goes:

Background

I received the two emails within a week of each other, and they really made me think.

First of all, they made me happy. I’m so glad there are two people out there so passionate and studious about a topic that most Americans don’t ever think about.

That’s great.

bilde Where Do You Stand on a Constitutional Convention?

Image Credit: IndyStar.com

The fact that there are two such people actually making contact means there are certainly a lot more engaged with the issue, and actually these were only 2 of dozens of notes I’ve received on the same topic. Wonderful.

We need this kind of citizen participation in order for our freedom to work and last.

The Debate

Second, well…just consider these two notes:

“Oliver, why do you support a Constitutional Convention that will send delegates from each state to rewrite our Constitution? Don’t you know that the participants will be almost entirely today’s politicians and attorneys, and possibly a few famous Establishment Academicians from the Ivy League or Berkeley thrown in, and that they’ll reject everything in the Constitution, get rid of the three branches and the checks and balances and who knows what else? Anyone who supports this just doesn’t understand freedom.”

I had to respond that I have never supported a Constitutional Convention, in fact I have written against it on various occasions. Some readers got confused when I quoted a couple of well-known supporters of a Convention, thinking I agreed with them.

Actually, those who read my full article could see that I quoted them to show that they were up to no good—because these particular supporters of a Convention want to use it to reject the Constitution and go to a Parliamentary system. Bad idea for freedom.

I have to point out, however, that some people who support a Convention do so for all the right reasons. Still, if a Convention happens, its actions will all depend on who gets sent as delegates.

The second note was very different, though similar in tone:

“Oliver, how can you not support a Constitutional Convention? I know you think it will be hijacked by today’s lawyers and politicians and used to throw away the Constitution and replace it with something much worse, but how is that any different from what’s happening anyway? If we don’t hold a Convention, we’ll continue to see the politicians and special interest groups just circumvent the Constitution, and the President, Congress and Court just ignore it when it’s inconvenient.

“This problem is getting worse, and most people really think that we’re under the Constitution. But we’re not. It’s ignored or circumvented every day, and this trend is only growing. At least with a Convention the loss of our freedoms will be out in the open. People will know what’s happening. And there is a chance, a slim one I grant you, but a chance, that the people and states will send good delegates who really do something to refocus on the principles of the original Constitution and help restore our freedoms.

“Without a Convention, there is absolutely no chance of this at all. Why don’t you support at least a chance for freedom? Without a Convention, Washington will just continue to destroy the Constitution piece by piece until our freedoms are entirely gone. A Convention gives us a slim chance for freedom, while no Convention gives us no chance.”

I’ve heard this argument before. In fact, I heard it from one of my mentors, W. Cleon Skousen, who said almost exactly the same words. When he said this back in the 1990s, I argued that the Constitution was still mostly intact, and we should give the natural tension between branches of government the time it needed to correct the problems.

He countered that it was headed in the wrong direction and would soon become unsalvagable without either a Convention or some major world crisis that forced a Convention—or something like it. Most of his predictions have certainly come true, the Constitution is much less followed or valued than it was just twenty years ago when he and I enjoyed in a number of deep discussions on this topic.

For example, the Spring 2014 edition of the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy has no less than 8 full articles on how the federal government is right now further ignoring or circumventing the Constitution and drastically encroaching on state’s rights!

Would such states now feel the need to send good, freedom-supporting delegates to a Constitutional Convention just to get their rights back?

Should those of us who have opposed a Convention change our minds before all of Cleon’s predictions happen?

Or will a Convention just speed up the loss of our freedoms and give us less time to do something else—outside a Convention—that really could work? After our long and deep discussions, Cleon and I agreed on how we thought this point would go.

More later on what we decided…

What Do You Think?

So, what do you think of these two arguments? More importantly, where do you stand?

Will a Constitutional Convention help us?

Do you think it gives us a slim chance for a restoration of freedom?

Do you think anything else realistically gives us a better chance?

I have a strong opinion on this, but before I share more about it I want to see what you think. Seriously, what do you think can turn our nation in the direction of freedom (and end our current direction of decreasing freedom and inevitable decline)?

Is a Convention the answer?

What, if any, other truly realistic policy answers are there? Specifically?

I’m excited to see how many people care enough to answer, and what great ideas you have.

How to Share Your Vote

Please don’t just rehash the two views above. If you think a Convention is a bad idea, for the reasons above, just write: “My vote is against a Convention.” If you think a Convention is needed for the reasons above, just write, “I’m for a Convention.”

But if you have any third ideas beyond a Convention that can really fix America, or different reasons for or against a Convention, please share them.

[Be civil and polite in this; I’ll just delete any name-calling or uncivil responses or words toward anyone or any view joining this discussion. Every view deserves to be heard.]

This topic is too important to turn impolite.

This is a very important discussion, and I’ll tally the responses and share some that really add to the topic, along with my own ideas on what needs to happen—in a future article.

I look forward to reading your thoughts!

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odemille Where Do You Stand on a Constitutional Convention? Oliver DeMille is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling co-author of LeaderShift: A Call for Americans to Finally Stand Up and Lead, the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

Among many other works, he is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, The Coming Aristocracy, and FreedomShift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

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