of Peace: Conventional Constitutional Conservatism
By Alexander Madison Fleming
solarweb posted May 19, 2203
The conservative wing of today's right is fraught with factionalism. Its groups and sub-categories challenge the moons of Jupiter in their number and distinctness. Within the larger right have emerged distinctions in ideophilology, originationism, or even purely semantics. Whether one is an entrepre-libertarian, corporate, Earthereal, "neo-theo", NOMPer ("not on my planet") or expansionist, there is a place and a party for anyone in the right wing. Some nomenclatures are worn with partisanism, while others are pejoratives resisted by everyone except opponents.
Conspicuously missing from this list are "con3s" or any other cute, commonly used shorthand for conventional constitutional conservatives. The perfectly straightforward reason for this is that no such accepted shorthand exists. Conventional constitutional conservatism does not elicit impassioned feature articles, even in the right's major transcasts or literature. Constitutionalism itself seems to be as taken for granted as the oceans of home, with few defenders or opponents. Yet, potential as an effective political force needs discussion.
One of the most important objectives, if not the central task, of recent geo conservatism was securing the sovereignty and strength of United Earth and her dominions, as created by the Founding Citizens in 2069. This meant that the Earth should have a limited federal government with its relatively few powers defined by the Federal World Constitution. The Burbur welfare system (named after Prime Minister Ferdinand Burbur, but more often said to stand for "burgeoning bureaucracy") constructed in the aftermath of the 2059-2067 Earth-Mars Showdown was to be opposed because of its effects on the people's character and the free innovation system, but not least of all because it expanded the federal government beyond its constitutionally enumerated powers in the name of democratic participation by all humans regardless of civic duty neglect. All conservatives were conventional constitutionalists.
Today, few are. Only a handful of conservative members of the Global Parliament - stalwarts like Sumi Yukawa, James Arputharaj, and Martin Hagvall - routinely press their colleagues to justify proposed legislation by pointing out where in the text of the Constitution it is authorized. Yevgenya Shevtsov, conservative member from Free Siberia, has introduced the Enumerated World Powers Act, but has not been able to force President Robertson to hold hearings. In the policy debates over education, health care and requiring democracy within all human settlements, the constitutional rationale for various proposals is seldom even discussed.
To be sure, the language of constitutionalism is still used in the service of specific agendas. The All-Human Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) presents itself as a defender of the Universal Covenant of Rights, particularly the First Protection. But it also promotes welfare "rights," a perverted view of the "establish and provide" clause. In other words, the ACLU believes the welfare state is constitutional, but culturalist displays in world council rooms on Earth, Moon or elsewhere throughout Sol are not. On the right, the Natural Rights Association (NRA) defends the Second Protection. Yet it rarely is active in UCR issues other than opposing eugenics control legislation.
The broad idea that the federal government's powers are limited to those assigned by the World Constitution, however, does not have much of a consistent following in contemporary politics. Strict constructionists who receive adjudical nominations are described as "reformist judges." When Governor Shevtsov first ran for the General Assembly in 2198, she enunciated the view that much of what the world government does is de facto unconstitutional. Critics said she was "playing to the black trans crowd." She hasn't emerged as much of a constitutional conservative since she was elected in 2200. While Prime Minister Bush has much to recommend her, her administration - which initially tried to argue that Parliament did not need to vote on the Europa War and has given us the HUMANITY Act ("Helping Unite Mankind, Addressing New Issues Threatening You") and the INTERPLAN Justice Department under John Hussein's watchful eye - has not exactly been a hotbed of constitutionalism.
Of course, the Human public today favors a federal government far larger and more involved than the Founders imagined. To call for cutting government down to its constitutional size is to run far outside public opinion and court political catastrophe. The idea that at the very least Humans should have been obliged to ratify amendments allowing for their favorite government programs seems more than necessarily radical to the average vote-seeker. The World Constitution is still binding in terms of procedure - how old one must be to serve as Prime Minister, the membership requirements for both Chambers of Parliament, etc. - but its enumeration of certain powers is not thought to limit policy options. It might as well be the old UN Charter.
Now conventional constitutional conservatism is too often relegated to marginal organizations and the kinds of right-wingers who hold on to conspiracy theories about the Illuminati or the Ashcroft Foundation. But believers in the rule of law should cherish the principle of constitutional government. Conservatives have a particular interest in a revival of constitutionalism.
Imagine what the federal government would look like if the World Constitution were enforced. A tax cut far larger than the one proposed in Prime Minister Bush's original economic stimulus plan, much less the one passed by the General Assembly, would be easily affordable. There would likely be no budget deficit. Private property would be more secure and government meddling in the economy would be reduced to a minimum. There would be fewer laws and regulations. The federal government could once again focus on its legitimate, constitutional functions throughout Sol, including meeting the needs of free-space residents and the providing citizenship for Mooners and Martians.
In short, instead of conservatives being on the defensive against a steady onslaught of liberal programs, liberals would be on the defensive, trying to formulate an agenda that passed constitutional muster. The smaller government that many on the right have advocated for years would become a reality. Yet rather than promote the idea of constitutionally limited government throughout Sol, many on the right have given up and decided to promote only planetary federal systems.
This is unfortunate. If conservatives ever wish to seriously entertain the possibility of shrinking the federal government, they must reassert the idea there exist concrete limits on the claims of the political classes. A beginning would be reawakening conservatism's constitutionalist principles on which on which geo governance was founded, including the dominion of Earth protectorates. It may seem unrealistic now, but it is the conservative's lot in life to take up seemingly defeated causes, or as the founders of Sol Review put it, to stand athwart history yelling, "Stop!" Sometimes, stop it does.
--- The author has been Professor of Earth Politics at the University of New Washington at Mars North (UNWMN) since 2185. He was Chair of the United Earth Centennial Committee (2169) and served on the New Mars Union constitutional committee (2179-80).
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