Friday, April 06, 2012

A president against the constitution?

I was planning to comment on the two excerpts from Pope Benedict’s Mexican and Cuban homilies, when I run into a piece of news that made me jump.

Some Mr. President must be quite desperate to belie the whole Constitution of the United States. Perhaps because he is afraid that he already did it. I read in fact that Barack Obama made a scathing remark against the possibility that a “non elected group” of people might revoke a law legitimately made and voted by a solid majority of the Congress “democratically elected”.

It looks like that he was thus expressing his worry about the possible destiny of his much debated Obamacare. Or was he warning the Supreme Court from erasing it?

However we interpret it, this remark shows how little such Mr. President understands the ground of the USA constitution as defined by the Constitution.

The only excuse for him is that the same mistake is widespread: the belief that democracy essentially consists in determining governance by way of elections. Well, elections are undoubtedly important to decide who in turn enjoys the favor of the majority, to govern and make laws. But it isn’t enough the rule of the majority to make democracy – if we want to keep to the name an acceptable meaning!

What is needed is the rule of law: a law that no majority can make or change. That’s why sovereign is the Supreme Court, the non elected Justices in charge of reviewing the laws the Congress makes. Neither it is them, however, who by their decisions make the law: above them is the Constitution, before the Constitution the Declaration of Independence, and still before this a tradition of natural law that informed it.

This takes me back to the excerpts from Pope Benedict’s homilies I wanted to comment upon.

The freedom of which Benedict spoke in Cuba is now at danger: in America, as well as in Europe, where it might be already gone.

In Europe we are playing ostrich, and hide our head under the sand, feigning that religion does not concern the public space. The sand I speak of is that of willful ignorance, not wanting to know the facts of history, which show that religion always defined the public space, so that people recognized themselves as true men by belonging to a certain kingdom. Only a King who declared that his kingdom was not of this world, made them free to recognize their same humanity beyond all borders.

By choosing to ignore that King, we tend to idolatrize the kingdom that, literally, de-fines our humanity: call it, if you like, EU, or USA – if these were to be plied to the desires of the intellectual class that made the President. For all its pretence to be utterly open to anybody, whichever his/hers religion and culture and sexual preferences, it fails to understand anybody who declares that such things do actually make a difference with regard to the recognition of a common humanity. So, we could even have laws made (against, say, “omophobia” or “islamophobia”, or deciding what is good for you) to silence people who don’t agree with the undifferentiated view of man held as normative for democracy.


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