Will Wilkinson, again:
I think I need to put up a post announcing that anyone who seems to think that the U.S. government is not in fact limited by the Constitution will be summarily ignored. The fact that it does not set the limits you want or that the document is not interpreted in the way you think is most valid, has no bearing on whether the government is in fact limited.
This basically means the US government is “limited” only by what it has not attempted yet. It’s not a matter of “if they do not do exactly what I want they are not limited”, I’ve actually in the past acknowledged that there are things they don’t do that they COULD according to the Constitution. The problem is that, other than overwhelming public anger — which is a rare occurrence these days thanks to our tendency to remain fat & happy as long as we have our pills & reality TV — there is no reliable indicator of crossing the line. It used to be that people who wanted the government to do certain things against the Constitution would advocate amendments to it (i.e.: prohibition of alcohol). Nowadays they’ve wised up, and instead of claiming the Constitution needs to be amended, they just insinuate the power they want into it. Want to hold people without charges? Just declare them “enemy combatants”, and conveniently ignore that even if there were an argument for treating people differently — which there is NOT — it wouldn’t suggest indefinite incarceration, but summary execution, going by the logic of the types that endorse it (think about it: if these people are so dangerous that merely trying them in a fair court is too risky to Teh Security Of The Fatherland, why are they still alive?).
A true “limit” on government would be something that is unavoidable, a line that would render the entire system null & void if crossed. Populist rage is undependable for this purpose, and tends to actually lean towards irrational short term comfort rather than liberty, peace & a decentralized order. Draw a line that triggers a reset, or there is no limit beyond their capacity to ignore the piece of paper. Structure defined in the Constitution is formalism routinely perverted to excuse self-serving power grabs, provided that the ones yanking it are clever enough to figure out an argument that doesn’t sound bullshit until it’s too late.
If the limits really did their fucking job, then there’d be features of the current State that’d be rendered impossible to enforce. Instead, only the 3rd doesn’t get wiped away, because they have no reason to stick military personnel in your house. Why bother when they can instead hold up laws that encourage the militarization of your friendly neighborhood policeman (Will can read Balko for proof of this)?
This is why I advocate in the long run for no government. As for my previous statement to Will that he isn’t looking far enough Left for allies, I take that back. Anyone that would accept the limit of the US government purely on the existence of the Constitution is a prime example of the old saying about book smarts vs street smarts: while you insist it says what it says and there’s no crossing it, the people actually in control of this political system laugh & ask “WTF are you going to do about it?”.