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Constraining Obama

Does the president wish he weren’t so constrained by the system the Founders put in place so very long ago?

by
Jean Kaufman

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April 6, 2013 - 12:16 am
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Speaking to the Denver Police Academy on April 3, President Obama made some controversial remarks as part of his post-Newtown push for more gun control.

Most of the speech was ho-hum. It was the following that caught the right’s attention:

You hear some of these quotes: “I need a gun to protect myself from the government.” “We can’t do background checks because the government is going to come take my guns away.” Well, the government is us. These officials are elected by you. They are elected by you. I am elected by you. I am constrained, as they are constrained, by a system that our Founders put in place. It’s a government of and by and for the people.

At first glance these remarks may not seem so very terrible. After all, the Founders did try to put in place a government structure that would constrain elected officials from exercising untrammeled power. And those elected officials are indeed answerable not only to the Bill of Rights (including the Second Amendment) and the Constitution, but also to the will of the people as expressed through elections. And certainly, the idea that the Constitution acts as a constraint on the power of government officials did not originate with Obama; there are law review articles devoted to exploring the concept.

So what’s the problem? Just this: shouldn’t Obama have added something about what a wonderful thing those constraints are, how necessary and appropriate and important and even crucial, and how he himself is appreciative of them? Wouldn’t many previous presidents (with the probable exceptions of Wilson and FDR) have done something like that? And wouldn’t many of those presidents (Reagan in particular) have almost certainly included something to the effect that, although it was the Founders who put those structures in place, and it is the people whose votes preserve them, the entire edifice rests on the solid bedrock known as “natural rights”?

“Natural” vs. “legal” rights are concepts explored here:

Natural and legal rights are two types of rights theoretically distinct according to philosophers and political scientists. Natural rights are rights not contingent upon the laws, customs, or beliefs of any particular culture or government, and therefore universal and inalienable. In contrast, legal rights are those bestowed onto a person by a given legal system.

In its familiar and oft-quoted second paragraph, the Declaration of Independence makes a stirring statement of natural rights:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Although the Constitution is a legal document and therefore codifies and enumerates rights in a legal way, it attempts to ensure that those natural (rather than merely legal) rights will be protected–that is, to secure those already-existent natural rights that are inalienable and God-given. And note the definition of that all-important word “inalienable,” which means “incapable of being alienated, surrendered, or transferred.” In other words, inherent and permanent.

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Top Rated Comments   
Obama has no idea what those 2000+ pages actually say. Nor does anyone else, particularly Kathleen Sebelius' and her army of ignorant minions writing volumes of arcane rules night and day to "implement" Obamacare.

(And all you wanted to do was go to the doctor when you got sick, a simple enough request.)

Like everything with the Left, the thing in front of you, the specifics, are never the point.

The point is growing government and control.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (36)
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There are several problems with the idea that you cannot respect individual rights if you don't believe in God.

For one thing, in practical terms, it goes against the First Amendment in trying to establish religion as the basis for government.

For another things, rights are actual while God is fantastic.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
How nice of the prez to point out that there are actual constraints that exist to limit the power of congress and the office of POTUS. Too bad he doesn't subscribe to those constraints.

"Does the president wish he weren’t so constrained by the system the Founders put in place so very long ago?"

Rhetorical question - and probably shouldn't have been asked. Of course he wishes he weren't shackled. The constitution has kept him at a slow stroll instead of a dead run to convert this country into his own personal fiefdom. Lets hope the constitution and time (end of his term in office) outpace his efforts. I'm not encouraged.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Wonderful article, in my opinion. I would love to see a book that details the minutia of Obama's assault on the the Constitution, the family, Judeo-Christian worship and practice, citizen defense, law and order, private property, and privacy. (It may be out there, put I haven't seen it.)

But more to the point, DOES ANYONE out there think that Obama wouldn't jump at being a dictator if he had half a chance?

Or that he ins't working on a plan in case a window of opportunity opens up? Or is creating one?

I still don't know how to relate the creepy "last election" remark he made to Medvedev (or whoever it was): Who -- what mindset -- refers to his next election, his upcoming election, his one more election, as his last election. It implies that he is thinking well beyond it, as if his elections may be ending, but his tenure isn't.

And of course, the country is on the path to financial collapse, and muslims (particularly the muslim Brotherhood) are his BFFs and have figures (or soldiers of allah?) in the highest levels of his administration.

And then there are the 2 billion rounds of hollow-point.

But I must be just a crazy conspiracy theorist.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
From his actions so far, it seems obvious to me that he hates these constraints because when he is constrained he appoints czars (under what authority/), uses executive powers and uses his drones in the regulatory agencies to do as he wishes. Now, immigration reform is being conducted in secret. Why is secrecy necessary if you are not up to some skullduggery. Neither is he constrained by the truth as is seen in Fast and Furious and Benghazi. As far as elected officials are concerned in the face of the massive voter fraud (covered up by Holder) I no longer believe we have the ability to remove some of these clowns.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Does the president wish he weren’t so constrained by the system the Founders put in place so very long ago?"

Is water wet?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Water is like the Constitution to Obama.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Where are the constraints in Obamacare? A few thousand pages were voted on by people who hadn't read them and in part were bribed for their votes. We now have a 7-foot stack of regulations that no one can or will attempt to read, including Obama. Tell me how he was constrained.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Obama has no idea what those 2000+ pages actually say. Nor does anyone else, particularly Kathleen Sebelius' and her army of ignorant minions writing volumes of arcane rules night and day to "implement" Obamacare.

(And all you wanted to do was go to the doctor when you got sick, a simple enough request.)

Like everything with the Left, the thing in front of you, the specifics, are never the point.

The point is growing government and control.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Exactly. And the job of the dumb republicans (RINO faction) is to 'conserve' the growth. Government will never get smaller until We The People march on Washington with pitchforks and guns and demand changes. At this point only a fool would imagine that one vote can effect the changes necessary.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The discussion of "natural" law and rights always leaves me ambivalent. Historically, the people have only had the rights they demanded and protected, whether through violence or the vote.
That remains true now. If the majority continue to vote for representation that provides handouts with one hand and restricts our rights with the other hand, those rights will be at risk or will be lost, whether we consider them "endowed by our Creator" or not.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Read discussions about "first principles" at heritage.org/issues.
Also, the March 2013 issue of "Imprimis" discusses "first principles" as related to the 2nd Amendment.
From that issue:
...."Each member who consents to become a member of civil society thus enjoys the equal protection of his own rights, while at the same time incurring the obligation to protect the rights of his fellow citizens......."
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The idea of natural rights is three-fold:

1. They're rights that are intrinsic to an individual such that they impose no obligation on any other individual for you to have them.

2. You have those rights whether or not any other person or agency of the people tries to take them from you. In that sense, you would be absolutely justified to defend those rights and try to secure them from any such person or agency of the people.

3. You hold these rights through an agency beyond the power of any other person or agency of the people which is why you have the powers in #2. For those of us who are religious, we believe this agency is our Creator. What God has given is not for any man to take away. For those who are not religious, this is a much stickier wicket, and this is always the sticking point for me when it comes to voting for an avowed atheist. I have yet to find one who can give me a good answer for why my unalienable rights shall be held inviolable by the government and that atheist candidate as a part of said government. When I find one who can do that, I will certainly consider voting for that person the same as any other candidate.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Where do Natural Rights "come from"? Not necessarily God, though one could argue for that -- no, they are inherent in the design of the Universe and in the design of Life itself. If you accept the notion that God created the universe and life, then they derive from God, but that possible precursor does not negate the antecedent.

Go look up the "Iterated Prisoner's Dilemma". There ARE inherent rules in the system, and Game Theory is one of the ways to identify them which is not dependent on any Faith or Creed.

Natural Rights are those inherent rules.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
We are also, constitutionally, a nation constrained by mans laws and order! The constitution recognizes religion or no religion and the practice therof, separately, equally and apart from the government institution. That said, there are parts of religion that our laws do not condone. We don't condone taking a wife at puberty. We don't condone whipping, stoning and sacrificial life taking, etc., and most states don't condone snake worship. We don't allow fraud to be commited by a church organization. All freedoms regardless of where ones deems they come from, have their limitations in civilized societies.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Historically, the people have only had the rights they demanded and protected."

I disagree. The rights adhere to "the people" whether or not some moron or dictator in the instant is attempting to diminish or demolish those "rights".

The meaning of "inalienable" is that you're free regardless of how some jerk is trying to control and trammel you in the moment.

Your human liberty is an absolute.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The belief that those rights were endowed by the Creator bolstered the Founders in their effort to kick ol' King George's butt back across the pond.

Would you be the same MT Geoff who commented frequently on Don Surber's now defunct blog? If so, hail and well met!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The fact that obama wishes those restraints weren't in place isn't what worries me so much, it was obvious from the start who he is. What worries me is that people reelected him knowing (or too stupid to understand) that is how he "rolls".
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Does the president wish he weren’t so constrained by the system the Founders put in place so very long ago?"

Every president has that wish. The difference with Obama is that when he is constrained, he becomes petulant and butt-hurt about it as though it is some kind of personal injustice . The average politician recognizes the give-and-take of the poltical life; Obama feels he is above all that.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Every president has that wish."

A fairly broad assumption there. Compare and contrast Barack Obama with Calvin Coolidge, speaking on the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

(my favorite paragraph is 6th from the end..."About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful..." especially germane to our times when we have so many (alleged) reporters, politicians & even a Supreme Court justice (or 2 or 3) who find our founding documents to be antiquated, not suited to the times.)

http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/index.asp?document=41
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Or George Washington, who set the standard for the 2-term limit.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"And does Obama wish he weren’t so constrained by that system those Founders put in place so very long ago?"

Absolutely.

("I am not king" and he's not the "president of China," he sighs.)

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Yes he did sigh wistfully, thinking about the absolute power of Chinese dictators to just "do stuff" with no consideration of messy legislative process or the will of the people.

The real Obama sometimes comes through (maybe an un-telepromptered moment) and then he quickly tries to cover his tracks..."of course, our system doesn't work like that"
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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