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The State of our Union

The Goddess of Freedom looks helplessly at the state of the American union from her perch atop the Capitol dome.
National Archives

Last week, President Barack Obama performed the annual show known as the State of the Union Address. Modern presidents have turned this constitutional requirement for the president to make a report to congress on the state of the union “from time to time,” into an annual theatrical performance. They promise the moon and stars, urge congress to implement their solutions for every concern of every American, and proceed to accomplish little or nothing. What this latest address demonstrates -- and as usual goes unnoticed by journalists -- is that America has ceased to exist as a constitutional federal republic.

To be fair, Barack Obama is hardly the first president to ignore the constitution; it has been a dead letter since Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt openly attacked it in the 20th century. Beginning in the 1930’s, a complicit Supreme Court has given legal cover for the usurpation of virtually all powers our constitution reserves to our state governments and to the people.

The federal courts, with all their thousands of pages of legal gymnastics and tortured justifications of the government’s naked seizure of power notwithstanding, the constitution contains no provisions for virtually anything the president discussed. The entire tenor of the speech -- as well as the daily rhetoric of the majority of Republicans and Democrats -- is inconsistent with the governance of a free people.

The Declaration of Independence clearly states that governments are instituted among men to secure their rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Free people do not create governments to “invest” in education, energy, healthcare, and job training. Government does not create jobs and does not “fix” an inequality of income. Free people find their own sources of energy and sell it on the free market to their fellow citizens in a system of voluntary exchange; they seek their own education; they make their own free choices about their healthcare with doctors of their own choosing; they arrange for their own job training, through the same system of free exchange, in classrooms or through apprenticeships. No government in history has ever created a single job without taking the money to pay for it from some other citizen’s pocket. Inequality of incomes is inevitable in a free society, but is exacerbated by government meddling -- see the 2008 fiscal crisis and the billions of taxpayer money given to failed banks and investment houses -- and by incestuous and corrupt collusion between Wall Street banks and the Federal Reserve that have conspired to drain the value of our money into their coffers. Add to that a federal income tax that ensures no citizen can ever earn their way to wealth -- taking ever-larger portions of their wages as he or she struggles to increase their earnings and provide for their children.

The president did make reference to two matters that are the constitutional responsibility of the federal government; calling for patent reform and an improved immigration policy (Article 1, Section 8). Among the issues referenced in the speech over which the federal government has no constitutional authority were; rebuilding roads, job training, creating high tech manufacturing hubs, paying the unemployed, giving loans to small businesses, funding scientific research, building fuel stations for natural gas-powered cars, setting fuel mileage standards for privately-owned vehicles, delivering student loans, setting educational standards and curricula, providing Internet access, starting Pre-K programs, curtailing the rights of citizens to keep and bear arms, setting minimum wages, and providing retirement pensions and healthcare.

Most disheartening of all was the president’s anecdote demonstrating that Americans have embraced the dismantling of our federal republic and an all-powerful central government; the letter he received from Misty DeMars. Misty is a purportedly hard working citizen who lost her job and lived, along with her husband, on unemployment payments for an extended period of time. She wrote to the president to ask for more money after the payments were finally cut off, including the non sequitur, “I am not dependent on the government.” The president told the assembled congress that he receives letters like Misty’s every day.

This is the face of the new American; forever turning to their political masters for handouts and solutions to all their problems. Just like Rebecca Johnston, who told us in the 2008 Obama campaign commercial, “I think everybody’s the same, that they’d like to see an end in sight to all the worry and the chaos of everyday living,” and Henrietta Hughes, who asked Obama to give her a house at a Florida town hall meeting, and Obama supporter Peggy Joseph who gushed at a campaign rally, “I won’t have to worry about putting gas in my car! I won’t have to worry about paying my mortgage! You know, if I help him, he’s gonna help me!” And who could forget the Ponytail Guy from the 1992 presidential town hall debate who asked the candidates, “I ask the three of you, how can we, as symbolically the children of the future president, expect the two of you, the three of you to meet our needs, the needs in housing and in crime and you name it?”

A majority of Americans have accepted that government is their savior, the font of prosperity, and the rightful arbiter of fairness. They do not recoil in horror at the state of our union, which has degenerated from a federal republic of free citizens, to a centralized command and control empire that dictates every aspect of their private lives; from their children’s education, to their healthcare, employment, food, medicine, retirement, and even the amount of water that can be permitted to flow through their showerhead. Two out of every three Americans will use some sort of government assistance program in their adult lives, roughly half pay no income tax, while others have more than a third of their wages confiscated for redistribution to those whom their rulers deem more worthy.
Unless and until our constitutional republic is restored, the American union will continue its decline into bankruptcy, scarcity, and the suffocating embrace of collectivist tyranny.

Todd is a former U.S. Navy intelligence specialist attached to the Defense Intelligence Agency, and author of the new book, A Republic, if you can keep it; a chronicle of the American counterrevolution.