Just recently I have been confronted with an avalanche of criticism for attempting to point out that many social media based opinions are simply not based upon fact. The worst? When trying to enlighten others that the Constitution actually allows governmental powers beyond what they have been told from their favorite pundits (and bobble-head nodding friends). Seems many believe that if it isn't specified in the Constitution, then the States and the People have the exclusive authority to act under the Tenth Amendment. When I try to point out that we have Supreme Court decisions dating back over 210 years expanding the government's authority, I am attacked, not by one or two, but by several. My favorite? "Bitch, have you even READ THE CONSTITUTION?" Just yesterday someone accused me of wanting to "Make America like China and Russia" (whatever that means?)!
When did America become a country filled with folks that only accept notions they believe in, even if it can be shown their ideas are without basis in fact? When did we become a nation so filled with emotion and hate towards anyone that tries to discern facts from rhetoric and talking points? When did we collectively decide that knowledge is no longer power, but collective ignorance is?
Of course most Americans do not act this way, but with the advent of social media, a powerful medium now exists for anyone to proclaim their opinion as fact, regardless whether it is actually based upon nonsense. Honestly, I am getting worn down by being labeled "condescending" and "arrogant" while trying to adjust opinions about the Constitution expressed by those so clearly misinformed. It appears opinion trumps facts - every time! Yet when it comes to States Rights, the Supreme Court for over 210 years, has expanded the authority of the Federal Government under Article I.
"The Necessary and Proper Clause is as follows: The Congress shall have Power ... To
make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the
foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government
of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof."
In other words, the Constitution has been interpreted, virtually since its inception to include enumerated, implied and implicit powers to both Congress and the President. Moreover, under what has become known as Custom and Usage, authorities under precedent and tradition are also recognized (Executive Actions that began with George Washington and have been used continuously by presidents). When this is raised, the response is predictable. "You're a moron!" "You're the problem with this country, you and all them liberals - go live somewhere else!" I've also been told "I bet you live on welfare and sleep on the streets!" Not hardly. Yet, Custom and Usage also has allowed the formation and control of our system through political parties. Seems many that call me every name in the book can't quite put their fingers on where their beloved political party gets so much authority when it comes to ballots, selection of candidates and control of our political institutions. The power certainly did not come from the Constitution (they are not mentioned anywhere in the document). When I point out that it has evolved through Custom and Usage I am laughed at. Except, it's not funny when so many are wrong and refuse to consider that their source of knowledge from social media is inherently flawed (and so easily manipulated by folks with suspicious agendas).
Yes folks, we have work to do. Opinions are like body parts, everyone has them. But when do we turn to those that actually know about the area others so freely opine about? I always enjoy bantering with my fellow political scientists. We may not agree on everything when it comes to ideologically oriented policy, but we all know and agree on issues relating to Federalism and how it shaped our Constitution. One thing is for sure. When it comes to politics - step carefully. You might step into the social media cesspool of the uninformed pushing their opinions under the guise of facts. And when those folks become the majority - our great nation will be in serious peril. And for this, I blame our media and our alleged leaders!
As President John F. Kennedy once wrote; "The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all." I guess its time we join forces to demand honest clarity when it comes to the authorities created and expanded under our Constitution. If we don't, we may risk everything we hold so dear about our great nation.
Have a great week!
* I will be traveling the next few weeks. Check back for updates as they will be posted if internet access is available. Be well!