Every once in a while I run into those who’ve given up on the constitutional system in America. They argue that the whole thing suffers from fatal flaws, and they will often quote Spooner to make their case.
“But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain – that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case it is unfit to exist.
”I understand the frustration, but I think those who make this argument miss an important point. They almost act as if the Constitution should enforce itself, or self-execute. They seem to think that because waving the document in front of rouge federal officials fails to compel them to stop usurping power, we should simply abandon the constitutional system altogether. But a contract doesn’t enforce itself. Some power must stand behind the ink and parchment to ensure compliance with its terms.
Even some who revere the Constitution make a similar mistake in thinking. They expect the federal government to restrain itself. They look to federal courts, staffed with federal employees, to limit federal power. Or they think if they can just get the “right people” inside the system, the “good guys” will keep everything in check. When these strategies fail, they protest and march. And when the federal officials ignore them and still refuse to respect the limits of their power, they throw up their hands in desperation.
Thinking an agent empowered by a contract will restrain himself doesn’t make much more sense than thinking that ink and paper will stop a rampaging bureaucrat. These folks create the classic “fox guarding the hen house scenario” and then can’t seem to fathom why the hens keep disappearing.
A power outside of the system itself must exist to hold it in check.
In the American constitutional system, the people of the states hold that power.