Voting Guide for Constitutionalists
All that we learn about personal boundaries, the Constitution, and elected representatives prepares us to vote expertly to increase freedom.
October 30, 2020
We live better when in our relationships with others, we maintain good boundaries.
Good boundaries require us to not violate other people’s personal space. We must recognize what is others’ personal space, know what actions of ours would cross into that space, and have or learn self-control to not do those actions.
Good boundaries require us to defend our own personal space. We must recognize all of what is our personal space, pay attention to actions of others that would cross into our space, and learn self-defense and assertion to counter those actions .
Our expertise in these skills can improve slowly or quickly, but it does improve. Across our lives we come to increasingly know what good boundaries look like.
Knowing what good boundaries look like—feel like—is the key to voting for constitutionalists.
Good Government Boundaries
We live better when in government people’s relationships with others in governments, government people maintain good boundaries.
Boundaries are limits. Good boundaries in government people are limits on governments. Governments control law and control overwhelming force. The only way to ensure that our life, liberty, and property are secure from this overwhelming force, so we are free, is for governments to be self-limited. Governments are self-limited by having constitutions through which we the people delegate government people only limited powers, plus by having individual government people who have good boundaries.
In government people, good boundaries require that government people not grab others’ powers.
Such self-control is good but is not enough. Self-control by some of the people in our governments, even by many of those people, doesn’t at all protect we the people from all the rest of the people in our governments.
In government people, good boundaries most-critically require that government people defend their own boundaries. In truly-good, robustly-good government, government people use all available constitutional powers all the time against all other government people who take any unconstitutional actions.
The use of constitutional power to defend one’s constitutional boundaries is the behavior constitutionalists must select for when voting.
The Constitution structures the national government to operate lawfully.
A law is a rule plus the associated sanctions. The sanctions in the Constitution itself are offsetting powers. The sanctions in all other law are penalties like loss of life, some liberty, or some property.
Enforcing a law is investigating and prosecuting.
The Constitution separates government powers into sharply-defined, well-bounded scopes:
Legislators don’t exceed enumerated powers, create agencies, set agency budgets, block appointees who are capable of enforcing laws, prevent firing, or conduct oversight other than impeachment.
Executives don’t write laws, “regulate,” control interest rates, or conduct administrative judicial proceedings.
Judges don’t write laws and don’t respect past opinions.
Notice what’s not in the Constitution? The deep state, administrative departments and agencies, government-controlled companies.
Major votes are selected, positions are explained, and congresspeople’s votes are scored, in the Conservative Review Liberty Scores (archived here ; mostly back online here , with explanations of positions coming soon).
Far-less-current lifetime scores are featured in The John Birch Society Freedom Index . But each congressperson’s page lists the person’s scores in all sessions, and a person’s average score since his last election correlates fairly well with his CR Liberty Score.
State legislators’ votes are measured in the American Conservative Union State Legislative Ratings . Note that ACU ratings are not clearly grounded in support of the Constitution. As a result, ACU Federal Legislative Ratings average 21-23% higher for Republicans and 4%-7% lower for Democrats than CR Liberty Scores, and plenty of individuals’ ratings deviate even more.
Constitutionalism is having constitutional good boundaries; Progressivism is defying the Constitution’s boundaries. In The Constitution Needs a Good Party , I define a person’s Progressive Score as 100% minus his Liberty Score.
By this measure, in round numbers, every government made up from our major parties is around 1/2 Democrats who are fully Progressive and around 1/2 Republicans who are on average 1/2 Progressive, leaving us always with governments that are strong-supermajority Progressive.
Learn by Example
Knowing boundaries, fundamentals, and high scorers, we can learn more from individuals’ broader actions and explanations.
Representative Thomas Massie of Kentucky, acting alone, moved that that votes be counted for a $2.2 billion coronavirus stimulus.
Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky privately and publicly fought coronavirus stimulus bills.
Governor Kristi Noem of South Dakota didn’t lock down statewide in response to the latest coronavirus.
County Commissioner Steve McLaughlin of Rensselaer County, New York, refused to allow COVID-positive patients into nursing homes as was ordered by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
These people didn’t just act on using constitutional powers to oppose deprivations of life, liberty, and property; for these people it also meant pollical survival to solidly explain why. We can seek such stories, listen, and learn.
Swing Votes Rule
If legislative voting is along party lines, then a bill only passes if in each house the bill is acceptable to the person in the party who’s the very-last person who’s willing to vote with the party’s majority.
In the House, the Democratic swing vote’s Liberty Score is 18% but the Republican’s is just 6%. In the Senate, the Democratic plus Independent swing vote’s Liberty Score is 23% and the Republican’s is 22%.
In both houses, the Republican swing votes are more Progressive than the Democratic plus Independent swing votes. This means that to pass bills if legislators vote along strict party lines, Republicans’ bills must be more Progressive than Democrats’ plus Independents’ bills.
The alternative, voting that’s bipartisan, is always more Progressive. A slightly-less-Progressive Democrat or Independent gets overruled by a more-Progressive Republican, or even more Progressives join to pass Progressive bills.
Primaries Are Game Over
Republican party leaders, the party organization, and cronies maintain power by stopping constitutionalists in primaries and by stopping constitutionalists in general elections.
So constitutionalists must run against both Republicans and Democrats.
Against these odds, the Republican Party still has elected representatives evenly distributed across nearly the entire spectrum of Liberty Scores from constitutionalist down to Progressive.
This can be seen by reading down the table of senators’ Liberty Scores. This can also be seen by viewing the bar graph of directly-related Progressive Scores In The Constitution Needs a Good Party, which, for every Republican, also names names.
The fact that constitutionalists jump over the hurdles of both Progressive parties as frequently as Republican Progressives get pushed across the finish line by Progressive Republican Party rules and crony funding is strong evidence that constitutionalists are more popular with voters, and on a level playing field would win majorities.
The Republican Party doesn’t advance constitutionalism. The Republican Progressive swing votes actually make policy worse than the Democratic swing votes. In the event that Democrats win seats and enact more-Progressive legislation faster, like Obamacare, this provokes more pushback, like the Tea-Party-driven elections of 2010, 2014, and 2016.
Given these facts, it’s best to not try to game an election’s outcome by voting for Republican Progressives ever, for any office. Instead, to just support the most-constitutionalist candidate in every election, in every race, in every government—local, state, and national—and let the chips fall where they may.
Interestingly, this election the Libertarian Party presidential candidate, Jo Jorgensen, is a constitutionalist who connects well on the issues that matter to voters.
Constitutionalist voters know that a constitutionalist executive doesn’t need legislative majorities to limit government; executives who follow the Constitution are delegated very-strong constitutional powers to limit governments with their actions. Executive vetoes, executive command of armed forces, executive interpretation of the Constitution and refusal to execute unconstitutional statutes and orders—each such action would immediately place on our governments the strong limits that have been painfully lacking throughout the past Progressives’ century. Each such action also would quickly make constitutionalism even stronger in even more voters.
Elsewhere across the general-election ballots, for now we don’t have a constitutionalist party. For the time being, the battleground is always the Republican primaries.
Constitutionalists need to discern which candidates have good boundaries, and need to get out the primary votes to get these candidates onto general-election ballots in greater strength.
Knowledge of personal boundaries is particularly potent. It builds across the lifespan. Most everything you learned in kindergarten came easy. Many things you learned about boundaries you learned through hard knocks, including painful relationship breakups. Not a bit of all this learning goes wasted.
Our minds do an amazing job of unconsciously inferring patterns. This is true for each of us.
Voting by constitutionalists is expert activity. Fortunately, most of the expertise we need is already right at hand from our life experiences, once we know what that needed expertise is.
Good government comes from good boundaries.
James Anthony is the author of The Constitution Needs a Good Party: Good Government Comes from Good Boundaries and rConstitution Papers: Offsetting Powers Secure Our Rights. Mr. Anthony is a chemical engineer with a master’s in mechanical engineering.