This is just the opening salvo in what I hope to be a friendly and cordial debate among liberty enthusiasts regarding what role “constitutionalism” has to play in the future of the movement to fight statism and restore the protection of individual rights.

A recurring theme I’ve encountered is the schism between pro-Constitution libertarians and those libertarians who view the Constitution as a big-government parchment which paved the way for the federal leviathan that torments us today. A fact in the favor of the latter position is the enormous federal monstrosity which tramples individual rights on a daily basis.

Strategically, I always argue that the Constitution is the key to bringing together libertarians, traditional conservatives and anti-Globalists to fight our common enemy, statism. And to throw the Constitution to the curb is to ignore the lessons of the Ron Paul Revolution. [More on that in future posts.]

But these are the kind of debates I enjoy – ones with serious advocates of liberty whom I respect and admire! My libertarian mentor James Ostrowski and many other giants in the loosely knit freedom movement (Sheldon Richman, editor of The Freeman for instance) argue that: (1) the Constitution was a giant leap torward BIG GOVERNMENT and (2) that it has failed to restrain government in any meaningful way.

I have to concede (1) and admit that yes, the U.S. Constitution was definitely a more centralized form of government than the Articles of Confederation BUT I argue point (2) is way off base.

Not only did the Constitution prevent the advent of big government much sooner, it also held off its advances for decades to come after the ratification. Certain lbertarians seem to have tunnel vision when it comes to the areas in which the anti-Empire, anti-Torture U.S. Constitution not only preserved the land of opportunity but also prevented imperialist foreign powers from causing more war (more to come on this point as well).

As for the Constitution “failing” to preserve liberty and protect individual rights? My thought is that blaming the Constitution for the failure of Americans (namely politicians) to uphold it is akin to blaming a gun for a murder. We all know how libertarians view such a position in regards to a gun so why should they adopt it when it comes to our Founding Document?

Saying that the Constitution has failed to prevent big government and therefore should be scrapped is akin to saying that laissez faire, free market economics have not prevented socialism/fascism and should be scrapped. Much more to come in the debate but, Tenthers, please chime in with your viewpoints as well.

Craig Grant
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