Guarding Against Socialists and Socialism in America

Posted on Fri 09/07/2018 by

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By Paul S. Gardin
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Author’s note: We Americans who cherish our democratic republic and economic system of capitalism recently received a significant wake-up call in the form of 1) the primary elections of socialists Andrew Gillum in Florida and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York, and 2) the rising support for socialism among many millions of young potential voters of the Millennial generation. With this growing support for socialism, one should be concerned about the kind of candidates who could possibly win the presidency and control of Congress in future elections. The following discussion addresses the above issues and offers a strategy to hopefully ensure that America will continue as a democratic republic supported by a vibrant economy based on capitalism. The strategy requires an innovative use of the Constitution to guard against the many pitfalls and problems caused by socialism.

Exactly what is socialism? The classical definition of socialism is a social system in which the government owns and controls the means of production and distribution of goods, ranging from factories to health care, for example. Prices, distribution of goods, and products are determined by government officials. However, according to economist and social theorist Thomas Sowell, the particular “brand” of socialism championed by many on the American political Left “is more insidious: government control of the economy, while leaving ownership in private hands. That way, politicians get to call the shots but, when their bright ideas lead to disaster, they can always blame those who own businesses in the private sector.”

Capitalism, on the other hand, allows for private ownership of the means of production and distribution of goods to include the setting of prices and determining which products to produce based on consumer demand. Simply stated, capitalism is a social system of individual rights, property rights, and personal liberty, and has little, if anything, in common with socialism.

Radio talk-show host Dennis Prager asserts that most people supporting socialism believe that “evil comes from capitalism, religion, the nation-state (nationalism), corporations, and virtually every other traditional American value.” Socialists do not compare America to other nations but to an unachievable and unrealistic utopian ideal. Many advocate for open American borders, free health care for illegal immigrants, sanctuary cities for illegal aliens, free college educations for all, free health care for all, and other such socialist jlgoals. Overall, America is viewed as the problem child of the world instead of the world’s leader in a number of areas including the defense of individual liberty and freedom for all peoples.

Given the above, is there a way for the Constitution to protect the American people against the imposition of socialism or socialist-like actions by officials within the federal government to include liberal federal judges and justices on the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS)?

Under the current form of governance in the United States, SCOTUS has the final say in matters of law brought before the Court. The justices sitting on the Court rule on legal cases brought before them according to how they interpret the Constitution applying to a particular case. Some justices believe the Constitution should be literally interpreted and thus are termed “originalists.” Other justices believe the Constitution to be a “living document” to be liberally interpreted according to the feelings and situation of people claiming an injustice or other form of grievance.

There currently is no effective way to overturn an overly egregious and/or tremendously unpopular decision made by the SCOTUS justices unless they choose to overrule themselves!

Thus, if someday five “liberally oriented” SCOTUS justices decide, as they did with the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), that the Constitution permits various socialist actions to be imposed on the American people (i.e., We the People), Americans will be expected to abide by the ruling with no effective recourse on a national basis. This is an untenable situation that needs to be changed by giving a recourse opportunity to all Americans living in the 50 states. The same recourse opportunity also needs to be available to We the People in instances of socialist-like, egregious federal regulations or presidential executive orders.

It is believed that a new constitutional amendment is required to give We the People the type of recourse opportunity described above. For example, this new amendment could give an override power to state governments when a super majority of them (say 3/5 or 30 legislatures) vote to overrule any federal court decision, federal regulation, or presidential executive order, especially those that are deemed to be overly egregious and/or socialist-like in nature. In other words, the final say on especially contentious federal court rulings, regulations, and presidential executive orders would rest with We the People instead of ultimately nine unelected lawyers sitting as SCOTUS justices.

How can such a constitutional amendment be proposed in a timely manner? Article V of the Constitution lists two ways for amendments to be proposed: 1) by 2/3 vote of both the U.S. House of Representative and U.S. Senate, or 2) by a majority of state legislatures at a convention of states. Proposed amendments require ratification by at least 38 state legislatures to become part of the Constitution and law of the land. Given today’s very contentious political environment in Congress, it is highly unlikely that a majority of members in both House and Senate chambers would agree on anything like a new constitutional amendment. Thus, it is up to the nation’s state governments to propose new amendments.

Efforts to have state governments propose various constitutional amendments via a convention of states, such as term limits (a limit on total years of service) for members of Congress and a bona fide balanced budget requirement for the federal government, have been ongoing for several years. A total of 34 state legislatures must submit applications for such a convention to Congress, which is then required by Article V to call for the convention.

Currently, there are several different “grassroots” groups (called Article V groups) separately working to have state legislatures send the required 34 applications to Congress. For various reasons, none of these efforts in and of themselves have reached the threshold of 34 new state applications, and it appears highly problematic that any ever will. Estimates of time for any of these groups to reach the threshold of 34 state applications range from three to seven years, assuming many favorable factors and defeat of well-funded opposition from both extreme left- and right-wing political organizations. Added to the above time for a convention of states to be called and conducted is the time required for at least 38 state legislatures to ratify a proposed amendment. The ratification process could take anywhere from one to three years or longer.

In light of the above, a new Article V group has been formed, the American Constitution Foundation (ACF), with a strategic initiative to have a convention of states held perhaps as early as 2019. A key component of the ACF strategy is the use of more than 34 existing aggregated state legislature resolutions/applications to petition Congress to call for the convention. In other words, by requiring no new additional applications from state legislatures, the ACF strategy overcomes a major limitation of other efforts to have Congress call for a convention. Thus, ACF may have the best and most promising opportunity to closely work with state legislators to have a convention called in the near future.

In summary, it is possible for the American people, We the People, to have the final say on federal court rulings and regulations that directly affect Americans’ daily lives. Through the addition of a new amendment as described herein, the Constitution can serve as a safeguard against the imposition of socialism or socialist-like actions promulgated by federal officials and judges.

Paul S. Gardiner served as the National Veterans Coalitions Director for the Convention of States Project and lives in Hoschton, Georgia. He is a retired Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army Reserve, and a Vietnam veteran.