Libertarians talk about the constitution with a confidence that intimidates many ordinary Americans into withdrawing from public debate about America’s founding principles. Many Americans are bewildered when libertarians quote a clause in the constitution that prohibits something as essential as the CIA or Social Security. They instinctively know that these absurd claims cannot be right; but they lack the knowledge to confront libertarians about the constitutionality of our government’s activities. This article is intended to give ordinary Americans an understanding of some of the clauses that libertarians will selectively fail to mention, so that they can argue with confidence in support of the government institutions and policies that they hold dear.
The Interstate Commerce Clause
This states that the Federal government has a duty to “regulate interstate commerce”. This explicitly authorizes the Federal Government to control the activities of people and organisations operating across multiple states. This also includes people who engage in interstate activities via virtual networks, which include making phone calls and purchasing products online. If an individual or organisation is engaging in any interstate activity whatsoever, the Federal government is authorized to create laws regulating their activities.
The General Welfare Clause
This states that the Federal Government has a duty to “promote the general welfare” of its citizens. This clause allows our democratically elected congress to write legislation benefiting selected citizens and organisations. The welfare state and legislation such as the affordable healthcare act is explicitly authorized by this clause. The general welfare clause also authorizes congress to purchase products and services from selected private contractors, and in addition provide financial and legal assistance to private companies that play a key role in the American economy.
These two omissions from the libertarian constitutional repertoire demonstrate how libertarians intentionally deceive their fellow Americans and promote their childish nihilistic vision of the world. Ordinary Americans are starting to stand up for progressive principles that they believe in such as gun control and universal healthcare, despite the desperate attempts of right wing fanatics to silence any discourse. Thanks to the efforts of many constitutional scholars and our supreme court, America is rapidly progressing and becoming a truly liberal constitutional democracy.