Let the States Decide! Say Yes to ID for Voters

Let the States Decide! Say Yes to ID for Voters
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

Elections are important. Will the elected individual perform according to the oath of office? Or will he or she avoid constitutional restraints and hope voters won’t realize the betrayal?

Our nation’s founders strongly believed that voting in any election for a federal post should be limited. Not everyone should vote, and limitations about who will cast a ballot should be set, not by the national government but by each state. With a few exceptions, states would decide not only who would vote but also when voting day would occur. For many years, Maine’s voters cast their ballots in September, a practice later changed to conform with the rest of the country. Over the years, several amendments to the Constitution removed many other original restrictions.

Amendment XV (1913) banned denying the privilege of voting because of “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” Amendment XIX (1920) gave women the right to vote. Amendment XXIV (1964) said no eligible voter could be denied a ballot for not paying a poll tax. And Amendment XXVI (1971) lowered the voting age to 18.

These changes were properly enacted via amendments to the Constitution, not by any law or presidential executive order. In recent years, however, the federal government has broadened its dominance over the setting of voter qualifications without relying on the amendment process. Judicial power has also been used to set new rules, even cancelling voter requirements that are logical and, in this writer’s view, very much needed.

Some require would-be voters to produce photo identification before being given a ballot. Objections arose over this rather simple and sensible test because, it has been claimed, requiring a photo ID is costly for some and an inconvenience for others. As in many other instances, the charge of racism was used to foster change. It helped to convince a Texas judge and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that the Texas requirement for a photo ID must be abolished because it violated the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The Texas law and similar laws in other states seeking to protect the voting process from fraud were erased. Yet, a person has to show a photo ID to board an airplane or cash a check. Shouldn’t there be that kind of requirement for voting?

Is there any recourse to reverse this decision? The Constitution contains the answer in Article III, Section 2, Clause 2. It says Congress can limit the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court whenever it decides that the high court or lesser federal courts have gone too far. Such a little used and little known provision of the Constitution could be employed to rein in federal judges, even up to the Supreme Court level. This constitutional power possessed by Congress is an obvious extension of the desire of the Founders to create a system possessed of “checks and balances.”

Shortly after the 1787 Constitution had been written and was being considered by the states for ratification, John Marshall (who became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court from 1801 to 1835) addressed the potential for judicial abuse during the Virginia’s ratifying discussions. He explained, “Congress is empowered to make exceptions to the appellate jurisdiction, as to law and fact, of the Supreme Court. These exceptions certainly go as far as the legislature may think proper for the interest and liberty of the people.” Marshall obviously believed that Congress would, when necessary, use its constitutionally authorized power to keep the Supreme Court and any lower federal courts from overreaching.

Congress should use its Article III power to stop judicial meddling. Let the states decide via the Tenth Amendment what a would-be voter must provide before being given a ballot.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


Do Words Have Consequences?

Do Words Have Consequences?
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

In the closing days of the 2008 race for the Democratic Party nomination, then Senator Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) refused to concede when the primary season had already shown to have lost the race to Barack Obama. Undaunted by the will of the voters, she hung on – at least for a while. Asked on May 23, 2008, why she wouldn’t concede her loss to the upstart young senator from Illinois, she told an interviewer: “My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California.”

Image by Donald Trump August 19, 2015 (cropped).jpg: BU Rob13 Hillary Clinton by Gage Skidmore 2.jpg: Gage [GFDL  or CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

That she would use the word “assassinated” in the context in which she delivered it remains an amazing bit of political history. We bring it up because it has largely been deposited in a memory hole. In 2008, was she suggesting that someone might (or should?) attack candidate Obama? Was she hoping that her use of that word might stimulate some crazy to duplicate what had happened to Senator Kennedy sixteen years earlier? Mere mentioning the possibility of an assassination during a political campaign constitutes a dramatic departure from legitimate political discourse. And the reporters who heard her comment, or heard about it later, should have emblazoned it on the minds of all. But most didn’t.

Hoping that no one remembers her 2008 use of such an inflammatory word, Mrs. Clinton has chosen to imply that Donald Trump’s recent comment about her selection of possible candidates for the Supreme Court invited violence, the very tactic she had employed in 2008.

What did Trump say that Clinton seized upon? He stated during a rally: “If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is. I don’t know.” Asked later what he meant, Trump explained, “The media is desperate to distract [voters] from Clinton’s Second Amendment stance. I said that pro-Second Amendment citizens must organize and get out the vote to save our Constitution.”

But Mrs. Clinton speedily accused Trump of what she should have been accused of in 2008. She pontificated, “Words matter, my friends. And if you are running to be president, or you are president of the United States, words can have tremendous consequences.” Correct! Which is precisely why the media should have excoriated her in 2008, and why her recent attack on Trump for something that had no mention of the kind of possibly deadly suggestion contained in the word “assassinated” is mountainous hypocrisy. In 2008, she not only wasn’t held accountable for possibly inciting a monstrous crime, she repeated her remarks a few weeks later.

Only days after her first use of the word “assassinated,” Richard Stengel, the managing editor of TIME, interviewed Hillary. Having had no repercussions from her first use of the explosive word, she repeated it: “I think people have short memories. Primary contests used to last a lot longer. We all remember the great tragedy of Bobby Kennedy being assassinated in June in Los Angeles.” Was that another attempt to plant the idea of assassination in the minds of some potential killer? It certainly seems so. Did the main stream media hold her accountable? With rare exceptions, its supposedly hard-nosed reporters and commentators ignored her second outrageous use of the term.

All during their rise to prominence, the two Clintons have benefited from a standard that few have ever enjoyed. Others have to submit to strict rules and temperate conduct while Hillary and Bill are given a pass. Hillary obviously knows that explosive words can lead to explosive actions, which is why she attacked Trump’s statement. If she were held to the standard she has set for Donald Trump, she would long ago have become a political has-been.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


Who Are Trump Supporters?

Who Are Trump Supporters?
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

New Yorker Magazine is hardly a bastion of right-wing politics. Instead, it can usually be found promoting causes championed by liberals, left-wingers, and elitists. Its veteran political writer went to several Trump rallies to find out for himself what motivates anyone to support the New York City mogul.

Image by Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America (Donald Trump supporters) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons)

Before reading the New Yorker article, I received a report claiming that it provided more than two dozen reasons why some people like Donald Trump and want him for president. But then I read the article and found it to be anything but a pro-Trump piece. It does mention a few reasons why some Americans stand firmly in the Trump camp. But a politically on-the-fence American who reads it would likely be driven away from supporting Trump. He might end up voting for Trump’s opponent or decide not to vote at all.

The report I received – not the article itself– stated that Trump supporters “have had it with” an array of anti-Establishment politicians and policies. There’s nothing sensationally new about that. Its list of reasons is impressive, and they smack of accuracy. It says “Trumpies” are rebelling against anyone named Bush or Clinton, and against political correctness, illegal immigration, welfare waste and fraud, ObamaCare, Federal Reserve money-printing schemes, Barack Obama’s golf, Holiday – not Christmas – trees, global warming nonsense, gun confiscation threats, cop killers, stagnant wages, boys in the girls bathrooms, and more. My own survey assures me that all of that is a correct reading of any Trump supporter.

However, George Saunders who wrote the lengthy piece in New Yorker can hardly be described as an admirer of either Trump or the many Trump supporters he encountered and interviewed as he traveled across the country. On the other hand, the writer of the report (no name was provided) went far overboard in attributing any sort of pro-Trumpism to what Saunders provided.

With more than two months still remaining before Americans vote for the next president, plenty can happen to sway the yet undecided, maybe even move some from one camp to the other. We hope all will base their decision on facts, not on hit pieces or wild characterizations of any candidate.

The two articles mentioned above did agree in one main point. It is that most Americans are tired of promises not being kept by Democrats or Republicans, of changes in the nation’s culture and moral standards, of being given half-truths and lies when honesty remains the best policy, and of sensing that the country is being changed – not for the better but for the betterment of an arrogant well-entrenched few.

But another lesson reinforced from reading the magazine article and the ensuing report convinces me that checking the original is far and away the wiser course. Relying on someone’s view of something may take you far from what it really said.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


The Hidden Establishment

The Hidden Establishment
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

With an election for the president looming, Americans from coast to coast will be asking each other to state their choice of candidate. Are you a Republican, Democrat, or Independent? Are you a conservative, liberal, or moderate? Do you like candidate A or candidate B, even candidate C or D? Most will happily give an answer hoping to sway the one asking to their stance.

But there’s something new in American politics this year. It goes beyond the choice of party, political flavor, even candidate. The new choice is: Are you anti-establishment or are you willing to continue supporting the establishment’s favorites?

Even though most Americans would have a difficult time explaining precisely what the term “establishment” connotes, they have sense of what it means. Suggest that it’s the “old boy network that has been running things for decades” and you’ll likely get an approving nod. Use the words “political elitists” and you’ll readily get a positive response.

But is there a definition of the Establishment? A careful selection of a few words that practically all can accept? Has anyone publicly offered a concise explanation of what the increasingly hated term stands for?

The answer is yes, there is a definition. It actually appeared in a newspaper column by the late Edith Kermit Roosevelt, the granddaughter of our nation’s 26th president (1901-1909).  In her December 23, 1961 syndicated column, she used the word “clique” as a synonym for the Establishment and then went on to say:

The word “Establishment” is a general term for the power elite in international finance, business, the professions and government, largely from the northeast, who wield most of the power regardless of who is in the White House. Most people are unaware of this “legitimate Mafia.” Yet the power of the Establishment makes itself felt from the professor who seeks a foundation grant, to the candidate for a cabinet post or State Department job. It affects the nation’s policies in almost every area….

What is the Establishment’s viewpoint? Through the [past four] administrations, its ideology is constant.  That the best way to fight Communism is by a One World Socialist state governed by “experts” like themselves. The result has been policies which favor the growth of the superstate….

Substitute “all our enemies, domestic and international” where she mentioned “Communism” 50-plus years ago and you have what many more Americans are beginning to realize. Some would even prefer to leave the word “Communism” in her statement because there is a sense that our country is being made over into a communist-style state. These Americans may be enrolled as Democrat, Republican, or Independent. They may have considered themselves liberal or conservative. But increasingly, vast numbers are fed up with the people who have been in charge, especially those who solemnly promised change and didn’t deliver. They want someone other than entrenched party politicians, Wall Street manipulators, media elites, and left-wing academics. They want an outsider who might really change the way things have been going for decades.

In recent years, there have been cries claiming “not a dime’s worth of difference” between Democrats and Republicans. Leading GOP figures have been tagged as a RINO (Republican In Name Only). And some who claim to be conservatives have been labeled Neoconservatives, pushing for more government, even more war.

Will the reigning Establishment be supplanted? Not easily. But the kind of change sought by those who recognize its control is sorely needed. Old labels have become somewhat meaningless. New awareness that opposes the Establishment by name is a very healthy development.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


Houston Council Dinner DVDs Available

Council-Dinner-Houston DVDsNow available, a new DVD set of the talks held in Houston at our Council Dinner. Price is $15 for the set of two, and talks include:

DVD 1
John F. McManus – “The North American Union: A Step Toward World Government” – 23 min.

Dr. J. Michael Ritze – “Nullifying ObamaCare: What States Need to do to Protect Health Care” – 41 min.

Arthur R. Thompson – “What Aren’t You Being Told About ObamaCare” – 37 min.
DVD total = 101 min.

DVD 2
Debra Medina – “The Case for Private Property” – 39 min.

Dr. Duke Pesta – “The Trials and Tribulations of Teaching the Truth” – 29 mins.

Judge Sterling Lacy – “One Man’s Journey From Preacher to Political Leader” – 47 mins.
DVD total = 105 min.

(2012, 206 total min., DVD)