This post was originally posted at The New Democrat
Before I give you my take on the U.S. Constitution, I’m going to give you takes from others further Left of me and from people who are to my Right and further Right.
Today’s so-called Progressives who are really Social Democrats to be real and blunt about it see the U.S. Constitution in European democratic terms and want to and see America as their type of social democracy. Where government is more centralized with more power and more resources for the good of the people. And where most if not all things done though government are through majoritarian means with majority rule. They probably see our constitutional amendment process as undemocratic because of what it takes to repeal or amend an amendment. As well as forcing all Americans regardless of generation and the times as having to live under the same Constitution and Rule of Law.
Conservatives and Libertarians see the Constitutional in its original form. (Or that is what they say) And anything that is not specifically laid out for government to do based on the words of Constitution, they see as unconstitutional when government tries to perform those functions. Neoconservatives or the Traditional Values Coalition lets say when it comes to personal choice and freedom say that anything that is not granted specifically with the exact words laid out in it for the people, those rights don’t exist for the people. And that government can deny those actions for them. The same-sex-marriage debate is a perfect example of it.
I guess I’m somewhere in the middle on this which is where a Liberal would be between a Social Democrat on the Left and a Libertarian on the Right. All of the amendments and constitutional rights that we have as individuals with the constitutional amendments and Bill of Rights apply to all of us at any time. But when it comes to things for either the people or what can government can do I’m not what is called a strict-constructionist which is sort of a bogus term to begin with. And even people who call themselves that find ways to expand government power to meet their own political goals.
Just because same-sex-marriage doesn’t exist in the Constitution, or marijuana, or gambling and perhaps even property rights and the Right to Privacy doesn’t mean we don’t have the right to practice those things as long as we aren’t hurting innocent people with those practices. The Fourth Amendment clearly limits what government especially law enforcement can to when it comes to regulating individuals own lives. And the Fifth Amendment clearly limits what government can do to one’s property. And can’t simply decide to take it over or take it away simply because it wants to. The Equal Protection Clause clearly protect all classes of Americans equally and doesn’t grant government the right to discriminate because it doesn’t like one class of people.
I’m a Liberal Constitutionalist because I believe in the Constitution and more broadly liberal democracy. The rights that we have just from the words themselves will always be there unless they are repealed or amended through a super majority process. As it should be because we are a Constitutional Federal Republic in the form of a liberal democracy. Not a social democracy and those things are different. And just because the Constitution doesn’t specifically say an individual or government can do something, doesn’t mean they can’t. You have to look at the Constitution and see where those rights exist or not.