I cannot say exactly why, but I still enjoy reading about the challenges facing constitutional governance in America. What profit could there be in becoming more informed about the vast, negative changes that have taken place since World War II? Better by far to simply keep one’s head in the sand, and wave the flag like most Americans while the original dreams of the Constitution fade into darkness.
What, in any case, could one man do?
Maybe it’s encouraging to read well considered articles written by very smart people who are willing to study these problems. One such article, very brief and to-the-point, is:
By Garry Wills
New York Review of Books
Vol. 56, Number 15, October 8, 2009
Mr. Wills is very concerned about the growth of executive power in America, especially the huge security apparatus that has grown up around it. We should all be concerned about it. This has been accomplished under the guise of the “theory of the unified executive,” and no recent Supreme Court has had the talent or the inclination to do anything about it.
Even Mr. Wills is very dubious of the chances of limiting this concentration of power in the office of the presidency, much less of unwinding the damage that has been done already. After all, this is permanent war! World War II; the Cold War; the War on Terror; whatever comes next. Perhaps, he wonders, the Constitution has become as “quaint” and “obsolete” as the Geneva Conventions as described and (not) observed by the Bush II administration and, unfortunately, the Obama administration as well. (Quoth, David Addington, and signed off on by Alberto Gonzalez.)
Mr. Wills and I agree, however, that efforts should be made to return to the rule of the Constitution as it existed for 150 years, a sweet dream that should not so lightly be given up. We love our Constitution, we Americans, that’s what I teach my law students here in the developing-world. It’s a sacred thing, I believe, and worth fighting for.
Winning the battle? Mr. Wills finishes the article on a distinctly pessimistic note, quoting Cyrano: “one doesn’t fight in the hope of winning.” (mais on ne se bat pas dans l’espoir du succes).