Since 2009, voters have been trying to get constitutional limited governments. Instead, Progressives’ spending has created Great Inflation II.
But now the disappearance of the 2022 red wave has empowered a minority of Republicans to use their constitutional powers to improve the new House. And a solution is finally emerging for our fundamental problem, that the Constitution’s rules aren’t self-enforcing.
It doesn’t violate the Constitution to have political parties.
But it does violate the Constitution when legislators, executive officers, or judicial officers don’t honor their oaths of office. Honoring their oaths of office would require each to individually interpret the constitutionality of his every potential action, and take only the actions that he individually interprets to be constitutional. Such honor has been rare in politics.
Constitution-defying actions like these failures to honor oaths have been facilitated by all parties so far over the years. The parties themselves have facilitated such Constitution-defiance. When perpetrators don’t face charges, expect more of the same to follow.
The Constitution’s sanctions have never been used adequately. At the start, there was a strong tradition of relying on enough elected representatives to restrain themselves. Plus, all parties have lacked structural safeguards.
To make individuals’ rights secure under a system of governments plus parties, the Constitution’s structural safeguards for the governments must be complemented by analogous structural safeguards in at least one major party: enumerated party powers, separated party powers, and offsetting party powers.
The good major party we need isn’t organized yet, but already has many voters and growing numbers of politicians. Now these politicians are beginning to use their offsetting constitutional powers.
In the House speaker race, the constitutionalists drew a red line and didn’t flinch under pressure.
Months earlier, the constitutionalists had advanced many changes in the House rules. These changes would end business-as-usual omnibus spending and restore the minority constitutionalists’ ability to introduce compelling legislation and force on-the-record votes. Members could either support improvements or face furious voters over bloated giveaways to special interests.
By repeatedly voting against McCarthy, the constitutionalists won these improvements that in the absence of this resolute action would have taken 60 years to be won, if ever.
The way this played out had much in common with a personal relationship in which one partner has good boundaries.
A partner with good boundaries just takes care of herself and lets her partner take care of himself. If he respects her personal choices, he will have a good relationship. If he treats her badly, he won’t get the good things he wants.
As a candidate for speaker, Kevin McCarthy tried treating constitutionalists badly. They held their line, and McCarthy, needing a good relationship with them to get elected, had no choice but to treat them better and negotiate with them. He did, and he got his position while they got their concessions.
McCarthy and his bloc can learn from this and do the same in their relationship with Democrats. Republicans as a whole need good boundaries.
Republicans can never get what their voters want if they Republicans cave to Democrats on constitutional issues. Republican Progressives cave by design as each budget deadline approaches, to gain spending increases that reward cronies. Just like Democrats, Republican Progressives calculatedly play up people’s fears that they’ll lose Social Security checks, or they’ll lose jobs when the government will default on its debts from its past spending. This justifies the bloated spending bills.
Voters have the final say. If Republicans who had been Progressives would start following the Constitution’s boundaries by repealing unconstitutional spending and summarily impeaching officials who defy the Constitution, then voters would reward them and add to their numbers. If, instead, Republican Progressives continue defying the Constitution’s boundaries, then voters will replace them with new people who follow the Constitution’s boundaries. Democrats might even start treating them better because they will need to compromise to get their agendas through.
Looking beyond voters to all investors, producers, and customers, the behavior change in politicians that we just witnessed in the House speaker race can be the leading edge of an ongoing behavior change that ultimately ends Progressive governments’ spending binge, helping end Great Inflation II.
Such a change has worked before. During the Great Depression, hyperactive governments created great uncertainty about whether investors would be able to earn returns and keep them. But during World War II, governments’ profound opposition to business greatly eased. As a result, after World War II, the people were able to finally break free of the governments’ Great Depression.
Constitutionalists’ recent actions could be the start of eliminating today’s property-rights regime uncertainty and bloated spending, helping end or at least curb Great Inflation II.
Not bad for a few months’ preliminaries and a few days’ work.
James Anthony is the author of The Constitution Needs a Good Party and rConstitution Papers, publishes rConstitution.us, and has written in Daily Caller, The Federalist, American Thinker, American Greatness, Mises Institute, and Foundation for Economic Education. Mr. Anthony is an experienced chemical engineer with a master’s in mechanical engineering.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller.