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(Continued from “It’s a wonderful life,” U.S. political edition, Part I; see “It’s a Wonderful Life,” American Political Edition (Parts I-V) for all five parts combined and revised)

“First,” the angel said, “let’s look at what your country and world would have been like had you not further amended the Constitution after the Bill of Rights.”

“Slavery would not have been legally abolished by the 13th Amendment, nor Congress empowered to enforce its prohibition.

“The 14th Amendment’s transformation of the legal framework of the country would never have occurred. The Dred Scott Decision, which held that no African American, whether free or slave, was an American citizen, would have remained the law of the land. The states’ exemption from the Bill of Rights, which was originally meant to limit only the federal government’s intrusion on state and individual rights, would have persisted, and the protections of the Constitution would have continued not to apply to or restrain state and local governments in any way. African American slaves would have continued to be counted, legally, as 3/5 of a human being.

“The 15th Amendment’s legal guarantee, not to be effectively enforced for a century more, that all citizens, regardless of race, have the right to vote, would not have come into existence.

“The 17th Amendment’s increase in direct democracy, by shifting elections for U.S. Senators from the state legislatures to the people of the state, would not have happened.

“Women might still be denied the vote in some states.

“The increased tardiness and unevenness with which the United States would have dealt with these morally enervating issues would have reduced the human capital of the nation, delaying its fuller liberation and development longer. It would have been a less innovative country, and a less inspiring one to other nations. Resentments would have grown even stronger, divisions even deeper, the problems bred by these defects even more inextricably embedded into the fabric of your society. Those who later depended on the United States as a beacon of liberty would see only a quagmire of exploitation and oppression, either lagging even farther behind the finally pacified continent across the Atlantic it continually claimed superiority to, or, by not being a strong enough nation to lead, leaving that continent to a downward spiral from which it couldn’t escape, impoverishing the world along with it.

“The world would have been a very different place indeed had the United States not become what it became. And while there are those in the world who think that would have been a good thing, sometimes with considerable justification, it most certainly wouldn’t have been a good thing for America, nor, all things considered, for global peace and prosperity.”

“Oh, Angel,” the suicidal faction groaned condescendingly. “First of all, most of us don’t object to Constitutional Amendments, but rather to other increased exercises of federal power without recourse to such amendments. And second of all, many of these things would have come to pass by the choice of individual states, without the federal government imposing them on the states.”

“Slavery wasn’t going anywhere, anytime in the foreseeable future, without the legal and military coercion of the federal government,” replied the angel. “The gradual incorporation of the Bill of Rights into the Fourteenth Amendment by successive Supreme Court decisions, which continued into very recent times in our familiar reality (because state and local governments were not universally committed to protecting those rights), would not have occurred, and those states would remain free to disregard those protections. We see even today how fragile they are, at the hands of those who claim most respect for them, in the repetition of the refrain that according due process to those suspected of terrorism reduces the rule of law, a chant that is phenomenally ignorant of what the term ‘rule of law’ means in a Constitutional republic (hint: ignoring it out of convenience, in order to increase conviction rates, is the opposite of what it means).

“As for your other concerns, about increased exercises of federal power not granted by Constitutional amendments, follow me….”

(Continued in “Wonderful Life,” Part III)

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