In These Times, We Need Our Constitution More Than Ever

In These Times, We Need Our Constitution More Than Ever

By Dr. Thomas Patterson |

These are fraught days for Americans. History is said to be cyclical but there is widespread concern that we are in inexorable decline.

Our leadership role in the world which seemed secure three decades ago is under serious threat. Polls show that confidence and love of country are in decline, especially among the young. Traditional American values like freedom of speech, free-market economics and responsible fiscal policy are openly attacked.

Meanwhile, e pluribus unum is facing replacement by a culture obsessed with racial identity. MLK’s dream of a society where skin color doesn’t determine our judgments of each other is now itself deemed racist.

America, though, is the longest running liberal democracy in history for a reason: our Constitution. Our great freedom document connects us to our roots, the sources of our strength. It can direct us away from hyperpartisanship toward mutual respect and agreement on shared principles – if we respect its authority.

But the Constitution has been repeatedly ignored and abused in our recent history. Many argue it is an 18th-century construct unsuited to governance in the 21st-century. Others claim it should be seen as a “living” document that means whatever someone says it means without regard to its actual content.

Since the Constitution prescribes limits on governmental powers, it particularly vexes Big Government types wishing to centralize power and enlarge their span of control. For example, a century ago President Woodrow Wilson was an early leader of the Progressive movement, which held that modern government should be guided by administrative agency experts.

Wilson thus opposed the separation of powers doctrine. He cautioned against “the error of trying to do too much by vote“, given the ignorance of the common man.

His legacy of disdain for the Constitution is reflected in today’s administrative state, in which unelected bureaucrats make binding rules (laws), direct the enforcement of those rules and adjudicate violations.

FDR later also regarded the Constitution as a problematic document requiring workarounds for him to be successful in establishing the social welfare programs and regulations thought necessary to rescue America from the Great Depression. He was so frustrated by the Supreme Court striking down his unconstitutional power grabs that he infamously tried to expand the court to15 members.

Roosevelt was temporarily rebuffed but eventually was able to secure so much of his agenda that the role of government in Americans’ everyday lives changed dramatically. Safeguards to liberty like enumerated powers and federalism suffered permanent damage.

Recent presidents have taken the constitutionally curious position that they should be permitted to exceed their normal powers when Congress won’t act as they prescribe. Barack Obama, a former constitutional law professor, correctly stated many times that he wasn’t authorized to suspend DACA deportations through executive order. There were “laws on the books“ and “I am not king“, he pointed out.

But he eventually caved, unilaterally granting work permits and legal status to first millions of illegal immigrants who entered as minors, then later to adults (later struck down). The legal fate of DACA is still pending, despite its continuing unconstitutional status.

Joe Biden used the same logic when confronted with the need for extension of the eviction moratorium passed as an emergency pandemic measure by the Trump administration.  Biden acknowledged that the Supreme Court had already ruled that an extension would require congressional approval. But to appease his party’s lefties, he did it anyway, expressly ignoring the Constitution.

Donald Trump was also loathe to let the constitution interfere with what he wanted to do anyway. His most egregious transgression was pressuring Vice President Pence to reject the electoral ballots lawfully submitted by the states in the 2020 presidential election.

Pence, clearly lacking the constitutional authority to do so, refused. Fortunately, unlike previous miscreants, Trump was so thoroughly rebuked that no precedent for similar actions was created.

Part of the reason America is in trouble is because we are not protective of our Constitution, not outraged when it is abused. Judicial nominees, charged with upholding the Constitution, are vetted instead based on their political agenda.

We demean our constitution at our considerable risk. It is our bulwark against the corruption and chaos that plague impoverished nations around the world.

Dr. Thomas Patterson, former Chairman of the Goldwater Institute, is a retired emergency physician. He served as an Arizona State senator for 10 years in the 1990s, and as Majority Leader from 93-96. He is the author of Arizona’s original charter schools bill.

Ignoring Educational Failure Is A Recipe For Disaster

Ignoring Educational Failure Is A Recipe For Disaster

By Dr. Thomas Patterson |

Oregon Governor Kate Brown doesn’t have a reputation as a deep thinker, but her recent attempt to do something “noble” for minority students was especially pathetic. She signed a bill that states “a student may not be required to show proficiency in Essential Learning Skills as a condition of receiving a high school diploma“ for the next three years.

She and her folks were mighty proud.  An aide wrote that suspending the graduation requirement to read, write or do math will benefit “Oregon’s Black, Latino, Latina, Latinx, Indigenous, Asia, Pacific Islander, Tribal and students of color.”  The benefit is assured because “leaders from these communities have advocated time and again for equitable graduation standards…”

But he couldn’t be more wrong. The only sensible meaning of a diploma is as verification of specific academic accomplishment. It has nothing to do with race. The alternative, no matter its label, is simply an attendance certificate.

When a student begins to fall behind, educators have a choice. They can address the failure head-on. Tutoring, different teachers, repeating grades, whatever it takes.

Or they can pretend to see nothing and advance the students through the grade levels even though they are failing to learn. Obviously, this is the path of least resistance. Students aren’t shamed, parents aren’t alarmed, teachers aren’t annoyed by the enhanced accountability. Moreover, this  results in maximum “equity,” since all students receive the same diploma.

But you can’t fool Mother Reality. We can pretend that all holders of a high school diploma are legitimate graduates.  But colleges know. Employers know. And eventually the students themselves find out the consequences when their lifetime earning level is limited by their meager abilities, which can’t be improved by a meaningless piece of paper.

This isn’t about Oregon. As the nation’s public schools continue to fail to educate the students who need it most, the go-to solution has been to change the standards rather than to beef up  instruction.

Statements once accepted as common wisdom like “you can get ahead if you work hard“ and words like “merit“ are now often regarded as racist and thus forbidden. It’s hard for many of us to fathom how deeply and quickly this recipe for failure has become embedded in our culture.

Over half of US colleges have affectively eliminated the ACT and SAT admissions examinations.  They were deemed racist on no other basis than that some, but not all, minority students underperformed on them. The possibility that the test could serve as a useful sentinel, a prod to improve educational quality for the underperformers was never considered.

The unspoken assumption is that certain racial minorities are inherently unable to keep up academically and expecting them to do so is unfair. What George W. Bush called “the soft bigotry of low expectations“ is actually a particularly destructive form of racial bias.

This is the bigotry born of the union between black victimhood and white guilt that, as described by the scholar Shelby Steele, has stymied black social and economic progress for over half a century, in a nation of remarkable racial harmony. Most Americans are rooting for Blacks to succeed, but nothing ever happens.

We have been hijacked by a mindset that decrees the only permissible cause for the lack of progress is racism, not actual racial hatred, but “systemic“ racism, a much more subtle and pervasive racism not visible to the naked eye. Suggesting that factors like lack of effort may be involved is deemed “blaming the victim.”

We know how to foster success. Many charter schools, for example, have demonstrated that disadvantaged students are fully able to learn and achieve at high levels.

But the massive teachers’ unions are unmoved. Instead of academic improvement, they are devoting their efforts to teaching children that America is fundamentally shameful, that all whites are incorrigibly racist and that it is bigoted to even strive for colorblindness.

But enough is enough. We simply can’t keep turning out generations of uneducated, propagandized Americans.

Here are two things you can take to the bank. America will never close the income gap until we close the education gap. And no nation has survived that was despised by its own citizens.

Dr. Thomas Patterson, former Chairman of the Goldwater Institute, is a retired emergency physician. He served as an Arizona State senator for 10 years in the 1990s, and as Majority Leader from 93-96. He is the author of Arizona’s original charter schools bill.

Dogma Masquerading As Science Undermines Public Trust

Dogma Masquerading As Science Undermines Public Trust

By Dr. Tom Patterson |

“I believe in science, Donald Trump doesn’t. It’s that simple, folks,” Joe Biden tweeted during the 2020 election campaign.

Even by Biden standards, that was a deceitful remark. Not only did his opponent spearhead the unexpectedly efficient development of the Covid vaccine, which has been the cornerstone of pandemic suppression ever since, but the Biden administration has already done the most damage of any in memory by politicizing “the Science“, thus weakening its credibility.

Real science isn’t some facts approved by experts but a philosophical framework for acquiring and evaluating knowledge that originated in the Enlightenment. Science emphasizes reason, observation and methodical analysis rather than loyalty to teachings of authorities.

But “the science“ is also an institution, the mainstream scientific establishment. It has value as a keeper of standards and liaison to the masses.

Like all humans, scientists can become absorbed in self-interest and groupthink. Real science has recently been threatened by a return to dogma science, the veneration of experts and the belief that if a consensus of scientists believe something, that makes it true.

Science history shows the tragic consequences when dissent is disallowed. Galileo in the 16th century was censured and tormented for defying the teaching of Ptolemy that the sun was the center of the universe. Millions of humans suffered needlessly for millennia because medical practice was based on the ancient teachings of Galen, while new observations and innovation were prohibited.

In spite of all the technical achievements and enhanced prestige of science, the struggle between open inquiry versus dogma-as-science is still with us. For those with trouble distinguishing the two, here’s a tip. Real science welcomes dissent, considering it essential to the advancement of knowledge. Dogma science resents noncompliance and tries to eliminate it.

Yet scientific conformity, the enemy of progress, is once again achieving widespread approval. We’re told that 97% of all climate scientists believe in global warming, which is code for: human activity is hurtling us toward a climate catastrophe which can only be avoided by radical changes in human behavior and consumption.

Although the scientific community has closed ranks around this view, many points remain debatable. Some unafraid scientists question the reliability of the models and/or the accuracy of underlying data. Others also question the feasibility of decarbonization when the world’s major polluters show zero interest in compliance and citizens’ movements worldwide already resist even modest sacrifices to avoid the threatened calamity.

But the alarmists arguing the necessity of a dystopian world of deprivation and oppression aren’t brooking any second thoughts. Those who have them are branded “deniers“, morally equivalent to Holocaust deniers. They are silenced and fired and scorned.

Non-standard opinions are branded as “misinformation“ and banished. When over 95% of federal climate research funding goes to committed climate alarmists, working scientists get the message.

Much of the dysfunction is recent. British science writer Matt Ridley remembers how “20 or 30 years ago, you could study how the ice ages happened and discuss competing theories“ without fear of reprisal. No longer.

The science of coronavirus disease too has become so politically charged that rational discussion is no longer possible. Remember that not long ago, Biden and Harris, our two top “science followers“, vowed to refuse the Covid vaccination if Trump was involved.

Those who disagree with the government/consensus line on early-stage medical management, the value of lockdowns, the necessity of school closures or the need for masks are abruptly canceled. The scientific community was so anxious to make us believe that there was no possibility the virus could have originated in a Chinese lab that the notion was designated as “misinformation” until dogged investigation revealed otherwise. Oops.

Today, social media, in collaboration with the government, perform the work that was once the mission of the Inquisition: identifying heretics and punishing them. The common man is in a quandary. With so many people in white coats lending their credibility to the political domain, how can you know the truth?

There are real world consequences to this intellectual chicanery. The distrust engendered has contributed to public skepticism over needed technologies like genetically modified food, nuclear power and – yes – vaccines.

Galileo could have warned us.

Dr. Thomas Patterson, former Chairman of the Goldwater Institute, is a retired emergency physician. He served as an Arizona State senator for 10 years in the 1990s, and as Majority Leader from 93-96. He is the author of Arizona’s original charter schools bill.

Democrats May Wish For Voter Suppression To Exist To Support Their Agenda

Democrats May Wish For Voter Suppression To Exist To Support Their Agenda

By Dr. Tom Patterson |

In the recent Georgia debacle, the state’s CEOs successfully pushed MLB to punish the legislature by moving the All-Star game from Atlanta to Denver, after allegedly vote-suppressing legislation was passed. Senator Tim Scott asked six of the sanctimonious bullies what provisions they found offensive and why. None had a single answer.

Likewise, President Biden’s speech on “Republican anti-voting laws“ featured plenty of hyperbole. The reforms are “odious” “vicious,“ “unconscionable“ and “21st-century Jim Crow.“ But he failed to provide any examples for his wild accusations of anti-voting effect other than claiming they would legalize the intimidation of voters and the tossing of legal ballots.

In fairness, Biden should have his social media privileges suspended for spreading “misinformation.” Those are provable lies.

The racist voter suppression effort we keep hearing about from the left-wing echo chamber has occurred during a remarkable surge in voting nationally. According to the Census Buteau, nationwide turnout in 2020 was over 68%, the highest in 28 years, with minority voters making a particularly strong showing.

“Non-whites“ comprised a record high 29.0% of all votes cast, up from 20.8% in 2004. In Arizona, the “non-white” turn out surged 17% over 2016.

Yet Democrats insist that voter suppression is so extensive that our democracy is threatened. Photo ID requirements are exhibit A in the argument that Republicans are intentionally driving down minority turnout.

The ACLU claims “identification laws are part of an ongoing strategy to roll back decades of progress in voting rights“. A Washington Post columnist opined that “requiring ID at the polls pushes people into the absentee system, where there are plenty of real dangers.“  (Roger that last observation!)

But Americans are skeptical. They know photo ID is required for flying, drinking, entering certain buildings, picking up tickets and other normal activities. Many blacks feel it is condescending to claim that minority citizens are less able than others to obtain ID. And for those eligible voters who truly lack photo ID, why not provide a free – oh, wait, we already do that.

Evidence strongly suggests that strict ID requirements do not depress minority voting. Long-term studies at the Universities of Delaware, Nebraska and Missouri as well as Harvard all confirmed that “fears that strict ID requirements would disenfranchise disadvantaged populations have not materialized.”

North Carolina, Missouri and Iowa all saw increases in black voter turnout after passing photo ID laws, including a stunning 21% increase in Iowa.  Maybe voters appreciate knowing their vote is taken seriously and won’t be canceled by fraud.

Undeterred, congressional Democrats this spring passed HR1, which bans all photo ID requirements, on a party-line vote. The bill federalizes election law.  It is a fraudster’s dream.

It would force states to legalize ballot trafficking (a.k.a. “ballot harvesting“), to accept ballots up to 10 days after election day, to allow felons to vote, to accept ballots cast in the wrong precinct, and would bar officials from cleaning up voter rolls or reviewing voter eligibility.

By far the top priority for Pelosi and company is bulk mail voting, through which they have obtained mysteriously positive outcomes the past two elections. This practice, in which millions of ballots are mailed out to voters whether or not they were requested, is also mandated in the bill.

The effect is to remove all safeguards of voter identification and chain of custody. Elections are moved behind closed doors, beyond any supervision or security measures. When combined with ballot harvesting, political “street muscle” prevails.  What could go wrong?

Americans aren’t buying the remedies for fake voter suppression. A recent Rasmussen poll found 70% of voters support photo ID, including 69% of blacks. Another survey found 87% opposed to ballot harvesting, 71% against accepting ballots after election day and 63% listing election integrity as a top issue.

The fact is that voting has never been easier. Our voting system is one of the most accessible in the free world. Democrats don’t produce cases of actual interference with voting rights to support their frenzied claims because they are vanishingly rare.

Democrats may wish for voter suppression to exist to support their agenda, but that doesn’t make it so.

Dr. Thomas Patterson, former Chairman of the Goldwater Institute, is a retired emergency physician. He served as an Arizona State senator for 10 years in the 1990s, and as Majority Leader from 93-96. He is the author of Arizona’s original charter schools bill.

The Biden Administration Spenders

The Biden Administration Spenders

By Dr. Tom Patterson |

The Biden/Harris administration is ignoring established budget tradition in their determination to spend yet more money.

Since the Reagan era, each federal budget has included a list of achievable spending cuts. The final Obama/Biden budget boasted of their averaging 140 cuts, saving $22 billion, yearly.  Then-VP Biden  headed up these cost cutting efforts as he did the spending reductions in the 2011 Budget Control Act.

Obama praised Biden‘s leadership in the Campaign to Cut Waste, calling him “the right man to lead it because nobody messes with Sheriff Joe.”

So Biden was justified in campaigning on his record of cost-cutting, which he did (although overall spending never fell during his tenure). But, as we have seen on almost every front, the rhetoric of candidate Biden meant nothing.

His initial budget was the first in 40 years to not include a section on savings. Instead, he withdrew President Trump’s final 73 rescissions, which would have saved taxpayers $24.4 billion, including several, such as the Commission on Fine Arts and the Presidio Trust, that had been included in earlier Obama/Biden reductions.  His address to Congress in April in lieu of the SOTU contained no mention of waste reduction, nor has any other communication so far.

The contrast is striking. In 2011, President Obama proposed a $4 trillion deficit reduction over 12 years. We now know he fell far short of the mark, yet 10 years later, President Biden proposed a $14.5 trillion increase in deficits over 10 years.  Success seems quite probable this time.

What’s going on here? Biden’s inference that there is no waste available in federal spending is laughable. State and local governments are awash in newfound largess. Unemployed beneficiaries have received so much compensation that millions have understandably quit their jobs.

Americans in no financial stress, nursing home residents and dead people by the millions have received COVID stimulus checks. Meanwhile, the Department of Education, an inconsequential agency that has overseen the decline of American education at all levels despite a massive funding surge, was given a $67 billion boost.

The tsunami of spending is relentless. Our national debt has now reached $28 trillion, including a 30 percent increase from spending on the Covid shutdowns alone. Federal spending this fiscal year is about $8 trillion, fully half of which will be put on the tab.

Biden’s next budget is $6 trillion, plus $6 trillion or so of additional spending on anticipated campaign promises. If  Biden’s budget plan is adopted, the projected national debt would be $44,800,000,000 by 2031. Moreover, the current value of obligations to finance legal entitlement programs is $132 trillion more.

We are clearly on an unsustainable course. Easy money and goosing the economy with government spending can only take us so far. Eventually, our luck will run out when interest rates return to normal, creditors run out of confidence, inflation and lack of productivity gains take their toll or all of the above.

Technology may help some to delay the deterioration of our standard of living. But our descendants will be far worse off and America will be permanently damaged from our foolish selfishness.

Yet there is a preternatural calmness in Washington circles over the consequences of pushing massive debt out to future generations. When the ruling Left discusses their multi-trillion dollar spending proposals, they typically don’t bother to address the revenue problem. The fact that they are politically popular (and Biden’s “free” spending proposals are) is rationale enough in Dem World.

The spenders act as if spending itself is a social good. Deeply in debt, they spend for unnecessary frills like taxpayer-supplied benefits for illegal immigrants and middle class social programs.

They profess to believe that money will always be available so long as government can figuratively print more, but that is patently ludicrous. More likely, they just don’t care.

These are people who fervently believe in the power of Big Government to make life better, the overwhelming evidence to the contrary notwithstanding. The more money that is spent on anything, the larger their constituent base grows. As in the border crisis, the chance to maintain power drives policy.

Literally nothing else matters.

Dr. Thomas Patterson, former Chairman of the Goldwater Institute, is a retired emergency physician. He served as an Arizona State senator for 10 years in the 1990s, and as Majority Leader from 93-96. He is the author of Arizona’s original charter schools bill.