Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Who Loves the Constitution?

Reason's Jacob Sullum on the 2008 Republican platform's treatment of the Constitution: Like the Democrats, the Republicans only respect the Constitution when it's convenient. Some examples:

[T]he GOP platform does not question the legitimacy of the federal government's enormous entitlement programs, saying only that they should be "reformed" and "modernized." Regarding Social Security, McCain does not go even as far as George W. Bush, who proposed letting Americans shift some of their payroll taxes to private accounts. By contrast, the current platform calls for "personal investment accounts which are distinct from and supplemental to" the existing system of intergenerational income redistribution.

Far from shrinking the federal government, the Republicans want to enlarge it, providing "aid to those hurt by the housing crisis," solving "the energy crisis" (undeterred by the Carteresque connotations of that phrase), "expanding access to higher education," seeking "a major expansion of support" for certain kinds of stem cell research, even "returning Americans to the moon as a step toward a mission to Mars." The platform does not explain how these initiatives qualify as "legitimate constitutional functions."

The Republicans are committed to "continuing the fight against illegal drugs," even though that fight, unlike alcohol prohibition, was never authorized by a constitutional amendment. They want to impose national bans on gay marriage, human cloning, assisted suicide, and online gambling, even while declaring that "Congress must respect the limits imposed by the Tenth Amendment," which reserves to the states or the people "the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution." Despite their eagerness to trample individual freedom in all these areas, Republicans claim "the other party wants more government control over people's lives," but "Republicans do not."


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