Refederalist No. 1 — Legal Architecture — Political EngineeringPosted: March 27, 2012
The Constitution sets forth a legal system by which politics is to operate; but the legal system has been unable to defend the Constitutional structure from political erosion. Political strategies are needed — structural political strategies.
Lincoln said, “A house divided cannot stand.” He spoke of political structure. It is said, a house built without engineering will fall down, but a house built without architecture – will be torn down.
Forms, like arches, carry loads more effectively than a lot of material. That elegance does real work. It is not merely a matter of esthetics or taste to be discarded as styles change. Tacking on any-old functions and activities – modernist political engineering schemes have obscured and in cases scavenged the designed architecture of the Federal government. Additions were made because of desired outcomes, but wholly without regard to the integrity of the structure and its working elegance of form. The result is a failing federal structure – an unworkable, unaffordable, clunking mess.
The Refederalist is a project in the repair of the political architecture of the Constitution — through political engineering — as it was intended. We will describe practical and politically viable approaches to redistributing many government functions to refederalize the United States as a working federalist system according to its original plan and replace the functional progressive centralism. The premise — the Constitutional order is in good shape — it is the POLITICAL order destabilizing it that needs to be redirected. And the chief tool for the political engineering work is none other than — The Constitution, itself.
This is not a legal discussion, though it will discuss using laws and Constitutional provisions to do the political work of redistribution of government and Refederalization. The political dynamic now works essentially outside the Constitution’s formal legal structure. The politics, being concentrated outside of the Constitutional structure and operating at its top, pulls at the top, and over time, has severely tilted the structure from its federal foundations. The politics now is almost entirely de-federalized (centralized) and it is progressively dragging the Constitutional structure over with it. When the tilt reaches a critical value the Constitutional order will necessarily collapse.
The continuity of the legal Constitutional order is no longer sustained by the interplay of contending factions kept from mischief by the limiting political structure within the Constitution. Maintaining the Federal Constitutions legal order has become an act of will, preserving its elements against the inexorable toppling moment from forces of centralization. These forces can only operate on the way they do currently because the federal POLITICAL structure has been shifted from its federal foundations. While the overall superstructure still looks mainly intact — being off its axis, it is no longer able to function properly — and the strain has begun to show serious risk of collapse.
The list of failed policy solutions to this problem is exceedingly long. But policy fixes are akin to propping up the Leaning Tower of Pisa with a rocket motor strapped to the parapet — it might actually work to slow things down — until the political fuel runs out. But that kind of policy can never develop enough power to fully counter the constant political pull on the top from outside. The solution is not adding new rockets when the latest one fizzles out — but to add counterweights within the structure of the federal foundation. Then the political laws of gravity will naturally, inexorably — and GENTLY– do the job — as the Framers of this magnificent structure intended.
It will work — if we follow plan of the Constitution’s architects. They were much better at making elegant structure work politically than we are at making flashy political rockets work as substitute structure.