[Restoring the Constitution 21 Dec 10]  The Constitution is born  The purpose of government  What is Progressivism?  Constitution: A living document?  Twentieth century Constitution offenders  How did Wilson violate the Constitution?  Progressives are Republicans, too!  What makes someone an offender or defender of the Constitution? 

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The Constitution is born

DAVID BARTON, WALLBUILDERS, FOUNDER & PRES.: George Washington got a bunch of them together and said we need to look at redoing the Articles of Confederation, which led to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 where they did get together and redo the articles. Federation, they looked at it and said let's scrap it and start again. And that's where it became the Constitution.

When you look at the Founders' idea for the nation, it was that the people would be in charge through a representative federal government. And out of the forms of government, the Founding Fathers went through and said, democracy is worse than anything. It's worse than anarchy. Democracy is worse than a monarchy. And we know what they thought of monarchies.

I mean, democracy was on the bottom of the rung because it allowed human emotion to get through. People make decisions when they're angry or when they're happy or when they don't have all the facts.

So, in a representative republican form of government, everything slows down. We complain about the pace of to government, but that's really good because now you have to debate. You have to get two sides in there. You have to look at all the aspects. You have hearings on it get all the information. It's a slow process but it keeps the feelings and emotions out.

But they wanted the people to have the power. The Constitution forbids America from becoming a democracy. And the federal government means that we share the powers in a vertical direction.

The purpose of government

BARTON: Thomas Jefferson, in his first inaugural address, he went through the presidency and said, the purpose of federal government is five- fold things. And in his inaugural address, he listed the five things that the government was supposed to do.

He said, number one, is to acknowledge and adore God. It's interesting -- Jefferson said that but they all believe if you don't start with the acknowledgement of God, you don't understand inalienable rights.

Second thing is for the government to exercise frugality -- frugality in spending and power and authority. Be a frugal government.

He said, third, is to restrain the infliction of injury. Government exists to keep bad guys under control. It's not to regulate the good guys. It's to keep bad guys from hurting somebody.

He said, the fourth thing the government is supposed to do is to encourage entrepreneurship and free enterprise, is to be business friendly and -- because that's where the prosperity comes from, that's where jobs come from.

He said, the fifth thing government should do is to protect property and the earnings of citizens. They consider the money you earn is your property and they couldn't take your money away any more than they could take your house or your property or anything else away.

And he said that's the five-fold purpose of government. Government exists for those five reasons. We've shifted so much away from what they envision, which was a small, limited government with five primary responsibilities where we the people were in charge of all three branches. That's what they wanted for America.

And if we read and study the Constitution and get back to that plan, that's what caused America to be the most prosperous, stable nation in history of the world.

What is Progressivism?

R.J. PESTRITTO, "AMERICAN PROGRESSIVISM" AUTHOR: Well, Glenn, to me, progressivism is all about moving beyond the Constitution, getting beyond the bedrock principles of the American founding. The progressives detested the ideas behind the Declaration of Independence because they enshrined the idea of individual God-given rights and the end of government. They detested the Constitution, because the Constitution put limits on the national government, which were designed to uphold those rights.

COLLEEN SHEEHAN, AUTHOR, "JAMES MADISON": One of the biggest problems today is this idea of the, quote, "Living Constitution."

BECK: Yes, yes, yes.

SHEEHAN: But that doesn't mean that the Constitution is still alive in our minds and hearts. What it means is the Constitution means anything the judges on the Supreme Court want it to mean, which is -- which absolutely undermines the whole idea of popular sovereignty and free government. The reason the critical intent of the Constitution is critically important is because the people have spoken.

BECK: Progressives really are the bane of the Constitution's existence. They view the Constitution as living, breathing document that evolves. Well, OK, sounds like an interesting idea, but is that what our Founders had in mind?

Constitution: A living document? Yes, but --

BARTON: You know, a lot of folks today, progressives -- progressives and social evolutionists look at and say, well, the Constitution is flawed. It didn't take so many things into consideration. It needs to reflect a living document, living breathing, we the people.

I mean, who cares what they wanted 200 years ago? It's got to be a living, breathing document that reflects what we the people want.

You know, they've just made the Founding Father's point. That's what the Constitution is. A living, breathing document, but the point that is different from the Founding Fathers and progressives is, who is in charge of the evolution of the Constitution?

The Constitution says that we know things will change and times will change and people will want different things. That's why we're giving you Article V of the Constitution that allows the people to evolve the Constitution. You have to have two-third of the House and two-third of the Senate agree to an amendment and three-fourths of the state have to ratify it.

So, any change made in the Constitution, we the people made it. We're the ones that want it and we're the ones that ratified it. We the people said, you know, there's no term limits on president of the Constitution, but we want term limits on president.

The Constitution did not abolish slavery, but we did in the 13th, 14th, 15th Amendment.

See, we evolved the Constitution 27 times and it's always because we the people wanted to make a change.

The problem with progressives is they want themselves to evolve the Constitution and tell the people what the values should be. Most of the things that people that are progressives want the courts to do are totally out of line with the people.

There are amendments that have come through that haven't necessarily been the best for the country, and the 17th and 16th amendment are two of those. As a matter of fact, there's a great little poster out that says "1913, The Worst Year Ever." And you look and you go, well, that's when we got 16th Amendment with progressive income tax authorization; that's when we get the 17th Amendment which abolished the election of senators by the state; that's when we got Woodrow Wilson inaugurated president.

BECK: How many people before we called you to say, hey, you want to come to the show, how many people here could say, oh, yes, the 17th Amendment, I know what that is?

Two or three. You don't count, because you're doing Constitutional things. Nobody.

How many really know what it is now, the 17th Amendment?


This is amazing. Like all bad things, it started in 1913 -- Woodrow Wilson yet again. He supported this. Immediately now when I see Woodrow Wilson, I immediately know bad thing.

You can be quite certain that something is not going to have a good outcome if Woodrow Wilson was involved. Before 1913, U.S. senators were appointed by the state legislature. Madison said that the House of Representatives would always be national institution because the people would be directly elected by the people, but the Senate, the Senate, he said, will derive its power from the state.

Here is the idea: you have -- you have the senators be representatives of the state interest, kind of like a lobbyist for the state. You'd think progressives would like that. The 17th Amendment changed that and instituted a direct popular election of United States senators.

Two senators -- right there. Two Senates -- the United States Senate shall be comprised of two senators from each state elected by the people. OK?

Why did they do this? Well, they wanted to take the direct representation out. They wanted to make sure that the states didn't have the direct representation.

Let me you an example of 17th Amendment coming into play right now, today. Obama's health care bill would have never seen the light of day. A lot of things that they do in Washington would never seen the light of day.

Why? Because it wouldn't be in the interest of your state.

BECK: We know that Wilson was one of the worst defenders of the Constitution in the 20th century. But he's had company. Judge Andrew Napolitano has his thoughts.

Twentieth century Constitution offenders

JUDGE ANDREW NAPOLITANO, HOST, "FREEDOM WATCH" ON FBN: The 20th century is a disaster for the Constitution, in large measure because of the way it began with Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, the way it moved up through FDR. The three of them together demonstrating public and privately utter contempt for natural laws, and the concept that individuals have natural rights that the government can't interfere with, and the concept that the Constitution was written to keep the government off the people's backs. Teddy Roosevelt, his cousin Franklin Roosevelt and their mentor Woodrow Wilson basically ushered in periods of government in which the government took the position that it could write any law, regulate any behavior, tax any event, and seek any goal whether authorized or permitted by the Constitution or not.

How did Wilson violate the Constitution?

NAPOLITANO: Wilson entered -- brought an era to the federal government in which the federal government would have a personal relationship with individuals, nowhere authorized in the Constitution, and would basically tell them how to live, what water they could drink and what food they could -- they could consume, even what words they could utter during wartime. Wilson's Justice Department actually prosecuted a man in New Jersey for playing Beethoven's music in public and another man in Ohio for reading the Constitution, particularly the Bill of Rights, on the public street corner, fearing that that would cause people to criticize the government.

FDR ushered in an era of central economic planning, much along the lines of his colleague at the time running the Soviet Union whom he referred to as "Uncle Joe" -- of course, one of the most murderous thugs in history, Joe Stalin. FDR admired Joe Stalin. FDR admired Benito Mussolini, who is the fascist dictator of Italy at the time. And the two of them, Stalin and Mussolini, had a tremendous amount of government control over the economy which FDR envied.

He understood very little of economics himself, but he had a lot of government folks who did around him, persuaded him that there would be more prosperity and more equality in the country if the economy could be centrally planned from Washington, D.C. This attitude defies the Constitution because there's no authority in the Constitution for the Congress to take money from one person and give to another.

We are suffering from the big government seeds that they planted. We're suffering from them today.

BECK: I'd also like to point out here that not all progressive presidents of the 20th century were Democrats. As you know, Teddy Roosevelt was a Republican. Teddy Roosevelt was the beginning of the progressive party. He started it.

And who else? Herbert Hoover. And the Hoover family always gets angry at me when I say this, but Hoover was a self-described progressive who believed in regulation and actually started the first New Deal.

Progressives are Republicans, too!

NAPOLITANO: Herbert Hoover has this historic reputation as a champion of the free market whose way had to be corrected by FDR. He was a progressive in Woodrow Wilson/Theodore Roosevelt vein. He attempted central planning of the economy which was picked up by FDR. It was he who imposed or the Republicans under him ruined this tariffs which made it impossible to import goods at reasonable fair market values, which caused retaliation from other countries, which made it impossible to export goods at a fair market value.

I don't know how this happened but one of my goals is to correct this historical misreading of Herbert Hoover. He was as bad as Theodore Roosevelt and he laid the groundwork for Franklin Roosevelt, and he was a Republican in name only.

BECK: So, what constitutes an offender of the Constitution? And does it take to become a defender?

What makes someone an offender or defender of the Constitution?

BARTON: Someone who is a defender of the Constitution is someone who understands complete philosophy of the Constitution. And to be a defender of the Constitution doesn't mean you just want limited government. It also means you want to protect individual rights just as much as you want to limit government.

So, you have Ronald Reagan who -- and today we would call him both a social and an economic conservative. In other words, he wants deregulation, he wants the federal government smaller, he wants it doing less, he wants business as being encouraged, he wants prosperity. It comes from free enterprise. That's all good.

He wants less regulation. He wants less intrusion. But on the side, he understood the inalienable rights.

If you look at someone like Eisenhower -- Eisenhower, I mean, he desegregated Washington, D.C., but he understood the Southern mentality of the kind of racism there, but he went and took the federal government and made sure that 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments were going to be upheld in Arkansas, and in Tennessee and in Texas after the desegregation case in 1954 where the Supreme Court actually got right decision through the wrong logic, but they upheld the 13th, 14th, 15th Amendments.

Here, you got Eisenhower saying, I don't care what my personal views are. This is a constitutional issue. And I'm going to do it with constitutional means. So, people can criticize him for taking in the National Guard and federalizing it, but he was still upholding the 13th, 14th, 15th Amendments.

And that's really how you have to judge between the defender and an offender of the Constitution is whether they use constitutional means to try to solve the problems or whether they got these brilliant ideas and went around the Constitution to try to solve the problems. And that nearly always characterize the difference between the good guys and the bad guys on constitutional issues.

NAPOLITANO: Amongst those of us who study the Constitution for a living, you could find violations of it, significant violations of it in virtually every single presidency, starting with George Washington and up to President Obama.

The strongest defenders from the Constitution from those of us who study it for a living typically are only two: Thomas Jefferson and Grover Cleveland. Jefferson, of course, plainly argued that many of the things that the federalists had done, like the Alien and Sedition Acts, he simply would have nothing to do with.

Grover Cleveland, on the other hand, vetoed many, many pieces of legislation, more vetoes because of the absence of authority for the legislative act of the Constitution, than any other president of the history -- an unsung hero for constitutional law.