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A Guide to Jury Duty

October 21st, 2014 // 2:15 pm @

“I’m going to serve on jury duty,” my daughter told me. “Any thoughts?”

A Problem and A Solution

123 300x170 A Guide to Jury DutyThis will be short. Share it with anyone who might serve on jury duty. Save it to reread whenever you get called to jury duty. It is powerful information about freedom and being a leader in our society.

First, the American framers made juries a central part of the judicial system because they didn’t trust anyone else to keep the government in check.

Think about it. Nations with no juries still have judges, lawyers, and court cases. They arrive at verdicts and mete out punishments. But they do it all with two entities: the government and the accused.

The founders wanted something different. They didn’t trust government. “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” as Lord Acton put it.

The founders had seen what the British government did with its judges and courts. They had read about judicial abuses in Rome, Greece, Israel, the German principalities, and nations down through history. They knew that in almost all judicial systems, throughout history and around the globe, an accused person had very little chance for justice.

Their solution? Juries.

Specifically, juries made up of regular citizens like the accused, who would naturally be on the side of the accused “regular” citizen if the government tried anything pushy, or at the very least not automatically choose the side of government.

They established the jury system for one reason: to keep the government in check, to keep the government from being abusive, to keep the government from having too much power.

Checks and Responsibilities

Juries, the founders felt, were the last line of defense for a person falsely accused (or rightly accused, with extenuating circumstances), or even just to keep the government from having too much power in too many ways.

If juries don’t let the government get away with too much power, the whole nation will be more free. This was the reason the framers gave us the jury system.

Second, jurors do have two roles:

  1. Keep the government in check
  2. Provide a just determination of guilt or innocence

Both of these are important, but #1 is more important than #2. Indeed, keeping the government in check is the reason the founders established the jury system.

Sadly, most modern jurors believe that their main (and only) purpose is #2, to determine guilt or innocence.

The truth is that jurors generally do #2 better than judges, if for no other reason than that they aren’t jaded by facing criminals and lies day after day. They typically have a more healthy, balanced view of people.

Jurors should of course do a good job at #2, and in many cases this won’t conflict with #1. But if it ever does, good jurors choose #1 above #2.

Why? Because it’s more important to keep the government (with its massive resources and power) from abusing power than from stopping one accused person. That one person may hurt people, badly, and deserve real justice – it’s true. But an abusive government will hurt many, many more people—and hurt them a lot worse.

Founders and Authorities

To be a good juror, keep your eye on #1. Keep the government in check. This is your first purpose. Your first duty. Clearly #2 is important, but it is secondary to #1. If possible, do both; but always do #1.

By the way, this is a key message of the great classical movie 12 Angry Men with Henry Fonda. Every prospective juror who wants to prepare for serving should watch and consider this movie. Some of the lessons:

  • Keep the government in check—with the use of your vote about innocence and guilt.
  • Think on your own—don’t be a victim of “groupthink” or peer pressure from members of the jury. Be polite, respectful, participative, and friendly—and don’t be swayed by anything except your own careful thinking. Listen, analyze, and think on our own.
  • As a juror you are using real power. You are using force. Your vote will impact the accused just like a gun with bullets would. Be careful, and wise. Use this power reverently, and with a cautious eye on keeping government power from pushing through things that aren’t truly proven.
  • Don’t see the judge or lawyers as the teachers or experts and the jurors as the students or employees. This isn’t how the founders set up the jury system, even though many people are in the habit of seeing it this way. Instead, get it right by seeing the judge, lawyers and witnesses as students or employees putting on presentations and the jurors as the experts or bosses who learn from the others but make the final decisions.
  • Remember that in our current system, victims and their families aren’t allowed to directly seek justice through fights, duals, or retaliation. You are the hand of their justice, so if a defendant is guilty, it is essential to respond in a just way.
  • Be polite and calm, even when standing up for your view.
  • Do your best to see that justice is done, and that the government is kept in check. To reiterate: If you must choose between the two, keeping the government (with its immense power and resources) in check is more important than keeping one defendant in check.
  • How to deal with the judge: Treat him with respect and obey whatever he says, except when he tells you how to think. Remember, judges are a major part of the government the founders wanted juries to protect against. If he tells you how to think, at all, use your own brain. The founders put you on the jury, not the judge.

Treat this prospect with respect. The founders gave you the jury power because they trusted you more than anyone else—including any government official or judge—to keep the government in check, seek real justice, think independently and wisely, and do the right thing.

Your choices will have real impact on real people. As stated above: You are using real power as a juror. Don’t let this power corrupt. Use it with honor. Be proud of how you used it—for the rest of your life. As a juror, you are using force. Use it well.

*******************

odemille A Guide to Jury Duty 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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How to Fix the Middle East

October 14th, 2014 // 8:22 am @

What’s Been Missed

danger sign How to Fix the Middle EastAmerican wars abroad are causing more problems than they solve, for one very important reason: U.S. experts who help establish new constitutions and laws in nations like Iraq and Afghanistan don’t apply the principles of the U.S. Constitution to the level that they could.

They try, but they seem to not really understand the Constitution and how it works.

As long as Washington keeps doing this, our foreign interventions—whether limited to airstrikes or focused on full-blown ground wars—are a monumental waste of time and resources.

They leave the target nations worse off and more volatile than before we intervened.

Based on the cost of these wars, and its impact on our economy and our politics, this may be the single most important issue in current U.S. society. Most people don’t realize what a big deal this is.

Whether you support or dislike the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in the aftermath of 9/11, the United States certainly had a chance to positively influence the entire region.

A Fatal Misunderstanding

Experts debated whether it was possible to bring more democracy to the Middle East, and Washington tried to make things better.

But we failed miserably, leaving a power vacuum and strengthening dangerous anti-freedom forces in Iran, Syria, Palestine, ISIS, Northern Africa, and the whole region.

The reason for this failure is still almost entirely misunderstood: American experts try to copy elements of the Constitution and European parliamentary structures when setting up postwar governments in occupied nations, but they apparently don’t deeply know how Constitutional principles work—or don’t want to use them.

This is akin to copying Madison’s work, but doing it in a way that Madison would never have done. Specifically, the Constitutional system worked because the framers operated on a basic set of freedom principles.

One of these is that the key to long-term freedom is to identify the main power centers in a nation. This is vital if we want to see real change in the Middle East.

Once the power centers of a nation are clearly understood, each of them needs to be given a certain kind of power by the Constitution and laws.

Specifically, such power must give the group a real say in the direction of the nation, formatted so that all major power groups are represented and have the ability to check and balance each other.

The Important Separations

In most nations the best format is to divide the natural powers of government (legislative, executive, and judicial) as three of the great power centers, and then to give a legislative house to each of the major societal powers.

800px United States Capitol west front edit2 300x155 How to Fix the Middle EastFor example, in aristocratic Britain the two strongest natural power centers were the upper class with all its wealth and influence, and the lower classes with their huge numbers and power of labor.

This led to the House of Lords and the House of Commons, a system that gave the two biggest powers in the nation a real say in government, but simultaneously kept them both checked and balanced.

In the United States, with a less aristocratic and more commercial focus, the three major power centers were the individual states, the rich class, and the working middle class.

The founding fathers wisely structured the Constitution in a way that all three of these groups had great power but with checks and balances on each. The Senate naturally represented the wealthy class, the House was elected by the working middle class, and the states were given huge powers—even more than the federal government.

This is the Constitutional format, and it is very effective. When the major natural powers in a nation are all given a real place in the government, and all operate under checks and balances, it brings out the best in each power group and the whole nation can flourish.

The U.S. applied this principle after World War II in the two major occupied areas—Germany and Japan. In Germany, with an aristocratic model similar to Britain, the experts created an upper house to represent the aristos and a lower house to represent the common people.

A Working System

Japan presented a different model, because it was historically a monarchy run by just a few ruling families—much more like an oligarchy than a European aristocracy.

U.S. experts wisely set up Japan’s government in a way that the monarchy was disbanded but the same top ruling families were allowed to retain their power through the banking system and its close interconnection with the government.

This shifted their focus from military empire to economic growth—creating the modern Japanese economic “miracle.” Of course, this isn’t miraculous to anyone who understands Constitutional principles.

A few years later the U.S. followed a similar “Asian” approach by applying Constitutional systems in South Korea.

In all these cases, “democracy” worked—even in formerly totalitarian nations—because the American experts knew how to create constitutions that brought together all the major powers in a nation and make them part of the leadership (while at the same time ensuring that they were balanced and checked).

This would work in the Middle East as well, if only we used it.

New Goals

During the Cold War, however, Washington’s approach changed. The focus turned to gaining allies against the threat of communism, and experts put their attention to international treaties, international law, and international organizations rather than good, old-fashioned freedom principles applied at every level in a nation. Schools followed this shift, and true Constitutional expertise went into decline.

After 9/11, as the U.S. fought and gained incredible influence over Iraq and Afghanistan, a new generation of experts—trained in the new way—tried to create constitutional models in these nations based on a shallow understanding of how freedom works.

In both cases, U.S. experts basically tried to copy U.S. and European institutions. They rightly gave power to legislative, executive and judicial branches of government, but they missed the opportunity to actually bring Constitutional freedoms to these nations.

Specifically, they acted as if the major power centers in Iraq and Afghanistan are the same as the U.S. (the rich versus the working class) or Europe (the aristocracy versus the commons). But they aren’t.

The major power centers in Iraq are Shia and Sunni, and they have been at war for centuries.

Thus, setting up a government with separate branches and constitutional checks and balances but leaving the two major natural power centers in the nation out of the government guarantees that their conflicts will have to be settled by violence—not constitutionally by elections, debates, check and balances, courts, or negotiations.

The U.S. experts acted as if the work of the American framers should be copied for everyone, not emulated in the way Madison of Jefferson would have structured an Iraqi system.

This is a fundamental misunderstanding of the Constitution. We seem to have lost any real Constitutional expertise—at least in Washington.

Constitutional Law is now mostly a matter of memorizing cases, legal history, and the interplay between three branches of government, rather than really understanding the principles of freedom that the founding fathers taught.

A Real Fix

A Jefferson-Madison approach to Iraq would create a 3-branch government (legislative, executive, judicial) with three houses in the legislature: a House of Sunni, House of Shia, and a house popularly elected by small local districts across the whole nation.The third house would naturally represent the lower classes and also empower the Kurds and other minorities.

If U.S. experts had done this in 2005 (or 1992), Al Quada would have had no influence in Iraq and ISIS would have almost no followers today—at least not in Iraq and most likely not in Syria. Iraq would be a powerful, wealthy democratic republic in the heart of the Middle East.

It would of course have its share of problems, but the challenges would be more like those faced by early democratic epochs experienced in Canada, France, Japan (after 1946), South Korea (after 1950) and Australia.

Some might argue that this is impossible, because the Sunni/Shia conflict is inherently violent, but history shows a different story: Middle East conflicts are no more violence-prone than feudal Japan, the bloody European Catholic/Protestant wars, or the cruel Roman, Mongol, or Aztec empires.

These all spread violence for many centuries, and the violence only ended when these cultures adopted better constitutions.

 Bleak Forecast

Jefferson-Madison principles would take a very different route in Afghanistan by putting a small emphasis on the national constitution and focusing on helping tribal regions and cities create strong self-governing structures.

Only outsiders see Afghanistan as a nation; the Afghani people don’t consider themselves part of Afghanistan but part of their local tribal or regional culture.

Constitution We the People 300x108 How to Fix the Middle EastAfghanistan needs several dozen constitutions—for each real national area. And each needs to identify the main power centers in the area and make them part of the government (with adequate checks, as always). Nothing else will work.

Madison and Jefferson would never have made such obvious mistakes in Iraq or Afghanistan. Even the U.S. experts of 1945 would have taken a very different, more constitutional approach. But today’s experts are apparently more expert on internationalism than freedom.

They seek to create constitutions that fit Washington’s international agendas rather than actually help Iraq and Afghanistan create free and prosperous systems that work.

This is a major problem because the result will be increased conflicts and wars in the Middle East. In the decades ahead, we seem destined to shed a lot more American blood in the region—without fixing much of anything.

Note that both parties are to blame: Republicans have attempted to nation build but have done it shallowly and poorly as described above, ensuring worse problems in the very regions they’ve tried to help, and Democrats have decried “nation building” but continued bombing and increased drone strikes without any clear strategy or plan for improved self-governing constitutional structures. This accomplishes nothing good.

What We Need

America’s loss of Constitutional understanding is a growing disaster, not just in the U.S. but around the world. We need to change. The U.S. must either stop bombing and leave nations to their own wisdom and struggles, or we need to actually apply real principles of freedom.

NEEDED 300x198 How to Fix the Middle EastBut to apply such principles, we first need to understand them. Being ruled by many thousands of U.S. federal and state government officials who either haven’t read the Federalist Papers or don’t understand them (or don’t like them) is causing major American decline.

And unless something changes, it’s going to get worse—for freedom-loving people in America as well as the Middle East. Nothing is getting fixed in the Middle East, and it won’t get fixed until actual freedom is applied.

To top off this challenge, as we become weaker and weaker in this current era of American decline, China and Russia are waiting in the wings.

The solution is simple, however. We need a new group of dedicated people who pay the price to truly understand the principles of the Constitution—and know how to apply them to any people and nation genuinely seeking freedom.

 

(More on this topic is contained in the upcoming book by Oliver DeMille, entitled The U.S. Constitution and the 196 Principles of Freedom: How to Write Constitutions in the 21st Century. It will be available for Christmas 2014.)

 

*******************

odemille How to Fix the Middle East 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 Part III: Republican, I Guess…

October 2nd, 2014 // 1:00 pm @

From the desk of John Q. Public….

Dear Next President,

RepublicanElephant SPECIAL REPORT Part III: Republican, I Guess...Taking the White House is a tall order, and twice you’ve failed to win the day. But this time can be different.

It will have to be different. Political operatives like to believe that the electorate is rational. “Blue states, red states, electoral votes, do the math.” But this is a foreign language to most voters.

The pundits are sure: “Swing voters in the swing states, especially Hispanics, women, and independents. The metrics tell the story.”

No they don’t. The voters aren’t following this. “It’s the machine, the people and organization on the ground,” the experts assure us. Actually, it isn’t.

Here’s what happened in the last two presidential elections. Conservatives and Republicans, as well as Right-leaning independents, really only had one choice. It was “Republican, I guess…”

That’s the problem.You tried to win. You tried to play the game. You hired the best and the brightest and listened to your advisors. But the operatives were wrong. Twice.

They told you how to win, when the American people don’t want a winning candidate.

The Key Word

The American voters want something very different. They want to feel a certain way. They want to be inspired. They want to look at you on their screen, with the sound off (or even on), and feel something special.

They don’t want to feel like you’re another candidate who wants to win. This doesn’t connect. You have to not want to win. You have to want something a lot more important. Something big. Something the whole nation needs.

The voters know you’re a great administrator. You balanced budgets. You upgraded education. You’ve led in your career field. You have character.

And yet, the voters just don’t care. Knowing all these things, they voted for the other side. Twice in a row.

You gave us, at least in the TV optics, more Bob Dole or John Kerry. Not on policy, of course. But the feeling was the same. Tall. Trim. Dark suit. Distinguished. Accomplished.

This approach doesn’t make enemies, but most Americans don’t vote for it. Yes, they want trustworthy and capable. You’ve got that. But they want something more.

They want “cool.” They want exciting. They want genuine. They want authentic. They want you to clearly and boldly stand for something great. They want sparks to fly when you address them!

Those on your side already agree with you, and those against you have already made their plans. But a bunch of voters, more than enough to change the election, are waiting to see who makes them feel something great about their vote. That word “great” is the key.

Still Freedom

In the last two campaigns the biggest vision most people got from Republicans was “Not Obama.” If the next Republican presidential campaign is just “Not Hillary,” we’ll see the same results.

Whoever is telling you how to play to win needs to be off the team. You can seize this moment. Don’t play to win. Don’t be a candidate. Americans don’t like candidates.

They like leaders. Take this opportunity to be a teacher. A persuader. A symbol of a future America that is more. Better. Great. Stand for something that moves us. Make us care.

This will shock the voters, and they’ll perk up and take another look. Reagan won because he promised to bring freedom back to America, and to stand boldly for freedom around the world.

Freedom is still the quintessential American idea, much more than policy and talking points.

That’s what was missing in 2008 and 2012. “Republican, I guess…” is the professional politician’s path. “How can we win? Okay, experts, let’s do it that way.”

Wrong approach.

What about doing it your way? If it feels like the professionals are running things and the candidate is, well, a candidate, you’ve already lost.

It has to feel like you are doing it your way, because you are a great leader and your nation needs what you have to offer.

And it will feel that way when it is that way.

Lead us in a powerful direction, like you couldn’t care less whether or not you win but you’d give anything to get America back on the path to freedom!

That’s moving.

“Care Less” to Impress

The path is hard. Those who haven’t walked it can’t possibly hope to understand. They criticize and armchair quarterback. The one bloodied in the arena has to weigh the options and make tough decisions.

But Republicans now have two strikes.

Trying to win isn’t working.

Time to lead. Forget winning.

Tell America what it needs to hear, and let the chips fall. “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.” We need a rebirth of freedom, and we’ll vote for the man or woman who we believe will take us there.

That’s incredibly moving. It’s what voters yearn for. And running against Senator Clinton, who already looks and feels presidential, it’s the only chance. If the voters are tentative, it’s because you are.

Take an unequivocal stand for freedom. And don’t back down. Don’t try to win the primaries, just try to bring freedom back to the center of all American dialogue. Make it about freedom!

Own it. Fire the air traffic controllers. During the primaries, burn the boats. Stand for what really matters. Don’t impress anyone. Just take a stand and lead. That’s the true way to win support.

Also, forget the other candidates. Ignore them.

Show America why you are the one to support—because your vision for the nation is so moving. Teach them your vision, connect with them by being boldly true to yourself. Ignore polls. Ignore trying to impress.

Nothing impresses like not caring if you impress.

Have real confidence, the genuine confidence of knowing that your principles are true and that the nation desperately needs to apply them.

The economy is in dire straits, and eight more years of current policies will be a disaster.

In fact, truly free economic policies haven’t been Washington’s focus for almost three decades, regardless of which party was in the White House. Foreign policy is in the same messed up boat. This upcoming election is vital.

What America Needs

But we don’t need another politician. We need a leader. We don’t need another candidate. We need a voice for freedom, one that gets the nation to collectively sit back and listen.

You can be that voice.

But only if you’re a voice for something a lot greater than elections, winning, education, energy reform, etc. These things are part of it, of course, but only a true voice for freedom can speak the genuinely American dialect.

People are of tired of politicians.

They want someone to lead a rebirth of freedom and help make America great again.

This is the voter’s heart. It is also the way to put the United States back on the right path.

Oh, and by the way, this letter is addressed to whoever decides to take up the torch for real change, for an America rededicated to the main thing that made this country great—real freedom and the people who work and sacrifice to make it great.

Senator Paul, Governor Romney, Congressman Ryan, Senator Rubio, Governor Christie, Governor Perry, Senator Lee, Governor Huckabee, or someone else—whoever the next great leader is—this is the blueprint.

We have to feel like you really care about the right vision and direction for the nation, and that your vision is big enough and bold enough to truly make us care as well. Freedom is the message that will win.

And that means you’ve got to ignore the experts and transcend the politician, the candidate, the one who wants to impress, and you’ve got to show us that it’s not about you.

It’s about something a lot bigger.

Having a Vision

When you show us that it’s genuinely about our future, and give us something that really, finally, resonates, we’ll be with you—not just on election day, but for the years ahead.

One thing is for certain, Senator Clinton’s campaign won’t make the mistake of trying to impress everyone or just tear down her opponents.

They’ll be out in force promoting big ideas for the years ahead. Not just any ideas, mind you. They’ll be advancing Mrs. Clinton’s ideas, in a big way.

There will be lots of mudslinging—there always is—and answering the critics. But ultimately the American people will elect the individual who ignites their passion and interest.

The “cool” leader will win, the one with the most epic and resonate vision for our future.

Senator Clinton is hugely popular, with a strong list of accomplishments, but she isn’t invulnerable.

She can be gaffe prone, and her vision of further social reform will look weak when compared to someone with a great vision of American rebirth in the economy, leadership, and freedom.

A vision that captures our passion will sway the election. Nothing else will.

How to Win It

If the Republican candidates play small ball, even in the primaries (and no matter what the experts tell them), they’re going to lose. Your only chance is to aim for the fences.

It’s got to be about a decisive, moving vision of a truly greater America.

And it’s got to be centered on a future where freedom once again becomes the watchword for every American, and every government policy and program.

We yearn for this, from coast to coast, and only this is going to hit the home-run that is needed to get our nation back on track.

That a refocus on freedom can sweep a different president into the White House is incidental. It’s about recapturing the idea of freedom and the conviction that America’s role is to stand for it in a truly great way.

This is who we really are. It is who we truly want to be. Nothing else comes close.

Whenever we stray from this, America goes into a period of decline. When we get it back, we flourish. Freedom really is our lifeblood. Our essence. It is Americanism at the core.

It is time to get it back, and we’ll vote for a leader who effectively makes this our generation’s opportunity to shine. We’re all hoping that 2016 is the time.

Don’t play politics. Don’t try to win. Instead, lead a true rebirth of freedom!

*******************

odemille SPECIAL REPORT Part III: Republican, I Guess... 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 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.

*******************

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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