Political Conversations, Convention of States, And More – On Foundations Of Freedom: How do you discuss politics with family on the “other side”? What did the Founders intend the Commerce Clause to allow? What is a simple solution to much of the government’s overreach? How do we restore true federalism in our country, and why is it so important? Tune in to hear the answers to these questions and more on today’s Foundations of Freedom program!
Air Date: 07/22/2021
On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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Faith and the Culture
Abraham Lincoln said. “We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts; not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.”
Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. It’s WallBuilders Live. We’re talking about the hot topics of the day from a biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective.
You can find out more about us at wallbuilderslive.com. I’m here with David Barton, he’s America’s premier historian, and our founder here at WallBuilders, Tim Barton is a national speaker and pastor and president of WallBuilders, and I’m Rick Green, I’m a former Texas legislator and America’s constitution coach.
Thanks for joining us on this Thursday. That’s what we call Foundations of Freedom Thursday around here at WallBuilders, and it’s your chance to ask questions. So send those in to radio at email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, maybe about the Founding Fathers.
You might have a question about policy right now happening in your state or your community or at the federal level, and what the Constitution has to say about that, and what the Bible has to say about it, or what we can learn from history. So send those questions in to us.
Discussing Politics With Family
David and Tim, we got quite a few. We’ll see how fast we can get through them. The first one is from Nick in Washington State. He said “I love your podcast, it’s really encouraging in the present time.
“Half my family is Democrat and I have a hard time discussing politics with them. Do you have any tips? I really love them. And I don’t want to separate the family over stupid things like getting the vaccine. Thank you for all your help.”
Alright, guys, is a great question. I know, I know, a lot of our listeners feel exactly like Nick does. And they are wondering the same thing. So really good question.
Yeah, it is a great question. And already he’s made a great start, is don’t start with polarizing kind of issues, like the vaccine, or the seeds, or January the 6th, or is the election legitimate, I mean, stay away from that. What you want to do is get a conversation going. And you want to do that in a non-threatening manner. And a lot of ways you can do that is by bracing conservative kind of issues without making them conservative.
I mean, if you were to start, you know, let’s say you want to get into religion, say hey, I saw a piece that said all 50 states have a Good Samaritan law, and that’s a religious law. I wonder why they have that law? Is that a good deal? Get into a discussion that you can do in a neutral way and kind of move them in a kind of pro-religious direction.
Or you can go into something say I read an article recently that 19% of the kids graduating from high school, 19% can’t even read. I wonder what’s going on with education. And let’s start talking about whether education getting the right results or not.
Well, that might be even more of a step than you want to take…
Yeah, that’s right.
Because you just feel like you start talking on education, then that’s going to get polarized pretty fast, just where we are in education. But with that being said, I think dad, you’re right. There’s a lot of strategic moves you can make in that direction.
You know, even if I were looking at things trying, how can I have conversations? First of all, I want to be able to invest in relationship and I want to be able to love on them. And I want to emphasize the things that are important. And when we start talking about things that we care about, or things that are important to us, I would identify some of the values that I care about.
And so if it’s something that even if you’re a parent, right, if you’re the father, and I want my kids to be able to value hard work, and I think that even could be a big step going into education…
It is polarizing now today, for sure… Didn’t use to be.
I think education could be controversial these days. Certainly, if you start talking about education, I think quickly you lead into CRT or other things that are very polarizing. But I think the idea is absolutely correct, that you find things where you can find common ground. And ultimately, you want to invest relationship, you want to be able to love on them and encourage them.
And one of the things too, I would think one of the values that I care about, right? If you’re a parent, if you’re a father, what are the things that I want to instill in my kids? And I will talk to those value lessons and what you’re doing, you know, man, I’m really been trying to help my son learn this principle of hard work.
I’ve really been trying to help my daughter understand some of the value she has and created in God’s image. And I would talk about some of the more value principle lessons that I think are important, and what you’re doing is a parents.
And really, as you’re just loving and encouraging that person, you want to be able to love and encourage people in spite of their differences. But also, then you can talk about values where there will be shared appreciation for that value, where I think generally speaking, you’re going to find people on both sides of the aisle that are going to have a shared value and appreciation for someone or recognizing a work ethic or recognizing their identity and their value, etc.
And I think you can do that in a way that certainly is areas where you can find common ground that don’t have to be controversial, but really just being able to be fun to have those conversations.
You know, we have members, extended members of our family that certainly don’t have the same political ideology. And so for example, some of these individuals I will only talk about animals or farm animals, or on some other side of the family, we talk about hunting. We will find common ground where we can have a conversation, and we can connect on some relational level about topics that are not controversial.
And once you begin investing in relationship, and once you deepen that relationship, and there’s a level of trust and conversation, and once you’re able to just love on that person, and they know you care about them, they know you love them, then it’s easier.
If something controversial comes up, that it’s not what they expect from you every time they see you, and oh my gosh, you just always say that, and you always do this. No. No. They know that you are someone that you care about them, and you love them. Hey, I’m praying for you. Hey, how’s it going? How’s the family doing? How’s the kids? How’s the wife, whatever else? You’re able to invest relationally, and you have that relational investment.
That then, if something does come up that seems to be controversial, you always can softly back out of it. Hey, you know what, it’s no big deal. You know, this is something we don’t need to worry about now, don’t talk about now.
And because there’s that level of relational investment, it’s something that won’t be as taxing on the relationship when there are those moments of friction, because you’ve spent more time having moments that are not filled with friction. And therefore, it makes it easier to smooth out that moment when there might be a little controversy about different topics or issues.
And there’s things you can bring up that will help kind of broaden their horizon as well, and I kind of hate to bring this up, because CRT right now is all about race. But if you said, hey, I saw a thing that there are 40 million active slaves in the world today, that’s not good, you know, where China’s got this many slaves or whatever. There’s issues of values that you can raise that you’re going to get agreement with them on.
But if you can start talking about issues that will bridge that gap and expand it a little bit, as Tim said, find that common ground, build the relationships, and then we’re possible, choose facts, or choose topics, or choose things that may have a little meat to it, but you think it’s meat on which you’re both going to be able to agree.
If you can find a policy somewhere that you can both agree on and talk about that, and you know they’re going to agree on it and you agree on it, bring it up, then you start being able to get in areas, and then you start having less polarization in the family for sure.
Because as Tim said, they will trust you, they learned that you love them, and you’re loving on them. And so it’s just a slow process. And I think a lot of folks don’t take the time to build that, and they just want to jump in and talk about an issue that’s really hard to talk about, and that’s really polarizing.
So great question, great thing, but just take it incrementally a little step at a time. Remember what the Bible tells us and places like Exodus 20:3, and Deuteronomy 7, that you do it little by little, here a little, there a little, line on line, precept on precept is the way that we’re told in Isaiah. So don’t expect to make all the gains at once, just plant little seeds all along the way. Be faithful to do it, and keep doing it, it’ll make a difference.
Communicating to Our Indoctrinated Kids
Yeah, and I was thinking about, you know, this, it doesn’t sound like this is Nick situation, it sounds like his is more getting together with extended family. And that sort of thing is where he’s run into this.
But a lot of parents right now, the kids are coming home from college, and they’ve been exposed to a lot of this critical race theory and a lot of the Marxism and they possibly bought into it. And so we hear a lot from families who are really struggling with this and sometimes not even able to have conversations.
And so I would add one thing, and that is to really listen and ask questions. And so if that kid comes home, and sometimes it’s a little bit indignant, and they’re rattling off how, you know, these things should happen.
And we got to save the planet, and we got to take care of the poor and you capitalist don’t do that or whatever, however they’re doing it, one thing you can always do is meet them where they are and say, you know what, I agree with the outcome. I think we should be good stewards of what we have, or I agree we need to take care of the poor. What’s the best way to do that? And then ask them questions about how should that be done.
And then as they start talking about their solution, then you can politely poke some holes in it by asking more questions. When has that been done before? How did that work out when this nation tried it? That sort of thing. And so I would highly recommend a couple of resources at wallbuilders.com. There’re books that, man, I guess guys, help me out, I think there may be 20 years old. Well, one’s a CD “Thinking Biblically, Speaking Secularly.”
And then the other one was a book you did, David, on and you may have this in another resource, help me if it’s in another place, but it was during the 2008 election, and you talk about who should take care of the poor and why the biblical command is for us to do that and not government and how government’s inefficient about it. 30% of the dollars from government get to the person in need, 60% when it’s done privately. Is that still the best resource for that? Or do we even have that still?
“Thinking Biblically, Speaking Secularly”
Yeah, we do have it. First of all, that CD you mentioned “Thinking Biblically, Speaking Secularly” is also an mp3 now. So if you have maybe a car that doesn’t have a CD player, or if you are in a situation where you won’t have it on your phone or take it with you whatever else, you can download as an mp3 from the WallBuilders website.
Also, a lot of that information is in the Founders’ Bible, and that’s going to be probably the best resource because there’s so much other good content in there that will help shape some of those conversations. So there’s a lot of stuff in the Founders’ Bible that deals as you mentioned those statistics even about caring for the poor. And who does the best job caring for the poor? And whose responsibility that is even from biblical perspective?
There’s a lot of things in the Founders’ Bible about caring for the poor, including a lot of really fun quotes and letters from Founding Fathers, their perspective on it, what they thought was the best biblical solution based on some of the things they saw around them. So the Founders’ Bible is probably the best resource for that.
Love it. Love it. Alright, good stuff. And actually, if you’re reading the Founders’ Bible, that means you’re reading the Bible, and those historical documents and stories, which means you’re probably going to automatically have a better attitude of hearing God’s word. It’s a lot harder to be snippy, and maybe fall into the flesh, like I would tend to do in some of those conversations. So if I’m in God’s word, I do a lot better. So great, suggestion, Tim, Founders’ Bible, check that out at wallbuilders.com today.
Educating the Marines
We’re going to take a break. But if I could read an email, this is a really good email from one of our listeners. It’s encouraging. With all the negative out there, I think it’s great for us to have some of that good news all the time. This email comes from Doug, and he’s in Missouri.
He said, “I wanted to let you know about a little place where my wife and I live. She’s a graduate of Lone Jack High School in Missouri from 2004, all of 43 students there. And I’m from the town next door, Lee’s Summit. We’ve been married 13 years. We just had our fifth kid. I’ve been serving this country for 17 years in the Marine Corps.
“And I currently am stationed in Okinawa, Japan. We’ve been faithful listeners to WallBuilders Live for the last 10 years or so. I’ve purchased several a David Barton’s books. He’s written about original intent and our Founding Fathers. It has greatly impacted my understanding and what I was taught in high school. And I constantly recommend him as an author to my young Marine serving today. Their illiteracy of our foundation in the Constitution is mindboggling. Keep up the great work and look forward to meeting you all one day. Doug and Jamie Copeland.”
Doug, thank you for your service. Thank you, Jamie. And thank you for recommending WallBuilders materials to those young Marines. What an important group to know truth, to know what they’re fighting for. So I love the fact that you’re doing that, Doug. God bless you. Thanks for sending that in. We’re going to take a quick break. It’s Foundations of Freedom Thursday, we’ll be back with more of your questions in a moment. You’re listening to WallBuilders Live.
Thomas Jefferson said, “The Constitution of most of our States and of the United States assert that all power is inherent in the people that they may exercise it by themselves. That is their right and duty to be at all times armed, that they are entitled to freedom of person; freedom of religion; freedom of property and freedom of press.”
Have you ever wanted to learn more about the United States Constitution, but just felt like man, the classes are boring, or it’s just that old language from 200 years ago, or I don’t know where to start? People want to know, but it gets frustrating because you don’t know where to look for truth about the constitution either.
Well, we’ve got a special program for you available now called Constitution Alive! With David Barton and Rick Green. And it’s actually a teaching done on the Constitution at Independence Hall in the very room where the constitution was framed. We take you both to Philadelphia, the cradle of liberty and Independence Hall and to the WallBuilders’ library, where David Barton brings the history to life to teach the original intent of our Founding Fathers.
We call it the Quickstart Guide to the Constitution, because in just a few hours through these videos, you will learn the citizen’s guide to America’s constitution, you’ll learn what you need to do to help save our constitutional republic. It’s fun, it’s entertaining, and it’s going to inspire you to do your part to preserve freedom for future generations. It’s called Constitution Alive! With David Barton and Rick Green. You can find out more information on our website now at wallbuilders.com.
President Calvin Coolidge said, “The more I study the Constitution, the more I realized that no other document devised by the hand of man has brought so much progress and happiness to humanity. To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race.”
We’re back here on WallBuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us on this Foundations of Freedom Thursday, taking your questions, and you can send those into email@example.com, that’s firstname.lastname@example.org. The next one comes from Sid:
“If the Commerce Clause”, that’s a clause in the Constitution in Article 1, Section 8, “If the Commerce Clause was defined as intended in the Federalist Papers, would it not eliminate 40% of federal government intrusion overnight?” And so, that one is from Sid and Vicki, guys.
A Source of Government Overreach
We cover this in depth in our Constitution class, in the Biblical Citizenship class, but just for our listeners to know, it’s a really short clause in the Constitution. And all it says is that the Congress has the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several States and with the Indian tribe.
Now, wait a minute, does that mean if something’s going between Texas and Arkansas, is that the foreign nation we’re talking about here?
Kind of, it is another state, right? If it crosses state lines, I think is what they’re saying, then they could regulate it. But man, even regulate, does that mean micromanage? Or does it mean to make regular, basically to make sure everybody’s treated the same?
Wait a minute, Rick, you’re using common sense understanding of English words, and you just can’t assume they did that back then. You really need law degrees, you need… No serious American can actually understand the Constitution the way it’s written. So you need the Supreme Court. So I don’t think regular means what regular says. I think it’s got to be something different.
I feel like there’s sarcasm dripping from your lips at the moment.
Just a little.
Understanding the Federalist Papers
Just a little. In fact, you told me one time, I remember I was humbled by this statement, because I was going, man, David, these federalist papers are hard to get through. And you said, yeah, you know, Rick, they’re written for the average upstate New York farmer. I understand why you’re having trouble with your law degree and all. So, I mean, they did mean what they said when they wrote it. And they actually explained it in the federalist papers and said, here’s what we mean by this, here’s what we mean by that. So it isn’t complicated. But we have to take the time to go look at it and study it and put it in context.
I can’t remember, I think it was Madison that said, you know, there’s no power given in the Constitution that isn’t actually given. I mean, very plain language there. The Commerce Clause does not allow them to tell you, your lightbulb is what they should be, how much water should run through your toilet, to micromanage your insurance, and all of these, how your car is made…
I mean, the federal government is doing all of these things, and they’re claiming the Commerce Clause gives them the power to do it. Sid, your instincts are 100% right. It would eliminate I don’t know what the percentage is, maybe 40% of the federal government intrusion overnight. But the Commerce Clause is this big, what they’ve created as a loophole. And it’s because they switched from making regular which means okay, if you are in Arkansas, as you mentioned, Arkansas and Texas–
David, if you’re in Arkansas, and you want to sell some goods to people in Texas, we can’t build a wall between Texas and Arkansas and say, we don’t want your competition, we don’t want you to sell into Texans, because we want only Texan selling it. That’s what they were trying to stop because they knew that free enterprise flowing across state lines would be good.
A Free-Flow of Commerce
And so they make regular in terms of regulate in terms of let’s make sure that everybody’s treated the same. And they literally called the constitutional convention over this, because some states were doing that, and they said, we got to have a free flow of commerce, we need some ability to prevent states from stopping the free flow of commerce. But now what do they do? They micromanage commerce, they want to tell you how to do everything in your life, and they use the Commerce Clause to do that because they’re distorting the Commerce Clause.
So Sid, you’re spot on, we go into it a lot more in our Constitution class, that one correction right there. Mark Levin has actually written a great constitutional amendment to basically replace the Commerce Clause with the original intent, essentially, to overrule all these horrible Supreme Court decisions since the 1930s that expanded the Commerce Clause.
And if we did that one amendment to the Constitution, it would solve so many problems from federal overreach and federal intrusion, is one reason we push for Convention of States because that’s the only way we’re going to be able to fix the Commerce Clause. Anyway, getting into the weeds too much, but I really do encourage people to read that.
Okay, so let me jump in here with some. So we have now California that has told 19 states in essence, we’re building a wall between you and us. We’re not letting any of our officials come see you because you did really terrible things. Like I think Arkansas just said, hey, we think Title Nine sports should be continued, that there should be a man sports and woman sports, that we think that men and women’s sports should be separate. And that literally, you should have women’s sports team and not just one team where you choose what you are.
And so California, I think on 19 states now has used some reason to say we’re building this governmental wall between us and you and our officials can’t come see you. We’re not going to allow any of our state money to be spent in your states. We’re keeping stuff here. Is that the kind of wall that they didn’t want built back then?
Original Intent of the Commerce Clause
That’s exactly right. And you could even go to some of the COVID crackdowns, where we were stopping people from participating with other states and shutting them down. It really violated the original intent of the Commerce Clause. So yeah, I mean, it’s amazing how much we have it doing things you shouldn’t do, and we aren’t using it for the things that it should be used for.
And remember, guys, we talked about this in the course and our listeners need to know, this is all based on judicial interpretation, the court deciding what it means and changing what it means. We never gave them permission to do that. They’re basically having an ongoing constitutional convention over there at the US Supreme Court, where five out of nine justices can absolutely change the Constitution. And we’ve been letting that go on for way, way too long.
Common sense, like you just said, David, that’s what we need to bring back to the equation. And that’s what a Convention of States would do for us. But we’ve got to make these corrections. Because if you look at the amount of money they’re spending at the federal level, and how much money they’re costing us in terms of efficiency by micromanaging virtually every small business in the country and our individual lives, if we could change that one thing, boy, we would see some really positive outcomes from that. Really good question, Sid.
And again, go to the class, go to wallbuilders.com. You can get either Constitution Alive or Biblical Citizenship, either one of those classes, we’ll dive into that for you. Next question is actually kind of leads right into that, it’s also a Convention of States question, which, for listeners that may be new, when we say that phrase “Convention of States,” that’s an exact phrase out of Article 5 in the constitution that says that we want to allow for a, “Convention of States for proposing amendments, it just cuts the federal government out of the equation and allow states to both propose and ratify those amendments rather than Congress proposing them. So here’s our question.
This one is from Charles. And he said, “If we do have a Convention of States, can we eliminate the 16th Amendment and the 17th, allowing states to elect the senate once again?” So 16th Amendment, guys, that’s the income tax being allowed to be progressive. And then 17th took away the state legislature choosing US senators, and allowed for popular vote, you know, a general vote in each state for those senators, which took away the buffer of states being able to keep the federal government in check. So what do you think? Will those two be good ones to get rid of at a Convention of States?
Eliminating the 16th & 17th Amendments
Well, I would go at it pragmatically first. Because the question is, if we have a Convention of States, can we eliminate the 16th and 17th Amendment? To eliminate anything requires a constitutional amendment be proposed, and that the amendment then be ratified by three- fourths of the states in the United States.
So the first question I would ask is, do you think you can get the citizens and three-fourths of the states in the United States to say that we should not be electing senators anymore? And I think the answer to that is absolutely not. They’re going to say, wait a minute, we want the right to choose our senators. We don’t want the legislature to choose them. And I think they will see that as an instruction…
Now, do I think it’s better if we had it the other way? Well, possibly. But I think if we even taught civics the way we’re supposed to and said, look, here’s the way it works, the house represents the people and the senate represents the states. And there’s a big difference. The House that represents the Ninth Amendment in the Bill of Rights, the Senate represents the Tenth Amendment in the Bill of Rights. So the senate doesn’t look at an issue and say, what do the people want? The Senate looks at issue and says what’s best for the states.
This thing the federal government’s doing, is that one of the 17 powers the Constitution allows the federal government with everything else being for the states? If it isn’t, then as a senator of Wyoming or California or Texas or whatever, I’m going to vote to defend the right of my state to deal with these issues. If we understood what the purpose of the Senate was, I don’t think it’s the 17th Amendment that made that change.
Because, again, as long as you understand this bicameral federalism kind of stuff, and you know that the Senate is not just a super House of Representatives, there’s no reason that you have to change the 17th Amendment to tell your senators stand up for the state of Texas or Arkansas or Alabama, or New York or whatever, stand up for our state. It’s the House that stands up for the people. So that’s one.
Let’s say we had a Convention of States, and they came up with a proposal to repeal the 17th Amendment, I think the overwhelming polling and reaction be no way, we’re not going to let the legislature choose our senators. We want to choose our senators so that they’re accountable to us, not understanding that it’s a different purpose. It’s not like choosing the House of Representatives member. I think you’d have the same issue if you went to the 16th Amendment…
Education Is Key
Which David real quick before you go to 16th, so on the 17th, you’re right, without the civic literacy of understanding why it’s good for our particular form of federalism to do it that way, their response is real simple, exactly what you said. I don’t want the politicians in my state capitol choosing my US Senator, whereas it takes us in the class, it takes us what, 20 minutes to explain exactly what you just described about federalism and why those US senators are supposed to be stopping the growth of the federal government stepping on the state’s toes. It’s virtually an impossible practicality maybe.
Until we get millions and millions and millions of people to go through the constitution glass and get that education or we get the public schools to start teaching again those basic civics, then maybe we have a chance of that one being ratified by 38 states. But yeah, you’re right, from a practical perspective, not likely. And then you were going to talk about the 16th Amendment, practical perspective on that.
Yeah, the 16th Amendment on federal income tax, it’s not that that’s going to end taxation, or even limit taxation, it just changes the form of taxation. It goes back to what we had before which capitation taxes which is a much more just form of taxation. But if you got rid of the 16th Amendment, you’re not going to see a drop in federal taxes.
That’s not going to go down at all. I mean, the federal government’s going to find 48,000 different ways to make up that money. And they’re going to use all sorts of fees and all sorts of surcharges and taxes, and they’re going to charge employers, they’re going to add a capital gains tax. They’re going to get that money.
So what the 16th Amendment did was it changed the form of taxation you are allowed to use. It didn’t change the fact that you still have taxation. So I think that on both of those, there’s a huge public understanding of what those amendments do because people say, oh, if we get rid of the 16th Amendment, we got rid of the federal income tax, maybe so but you didn’t get rid of the other 483,000 taxes that exist. And they’re still going to use those. So I think selling that through the people is going to be really tough. And part of the thing is, well, we got to have money to operate the military, we got to have money to operate everything, and they’re going to see that as an attempt to have no taxes at all.
Political Conversations, Convention of States, And More – On Foundations Of Freedom
And most citizens are willing to pay taxes: they just wanted to be reasonable. And I think it’s a hard thing to sell because you’re now looking at reeducation. And this is what the civic classes should have been doing for the last 30 years, 40 years or whatever, and we wouldn’t be having this discussion. We would be able to say, alright, so what, the 16th Amendment allows the federal income tax, that doesn’t mean we have to use it, Congress doesn’t have to have an income tax. We can have that on the books and still be without an income tax.
Congress can right now stop using a federal income tax, they’re not going to. And if we take the 16th Amendment away, they’re still going to find a way to tax. So it doesn’t make that much difference unless you have people who understand limited government, and are willing to apply those principles wherever they are and however they are.
I was hoping you’d bring it back to that, David, because you covered that in the Constitution Alive class as well, it really comes down to jurisdiction. As long as they’re doing all of these things that we didn’t give them authority to do, they’re going to have to spend a ton of money to do it. And guess who pays the bill?
Under some form of taxation, we’re going to pay that bill. So it comes back to limited government, and we have to know what that means, and what those jurisdictions are, get back to having elected representatives that will ask, do I have authority to do this? Have the people given me the jurisdiction and the authority to do this?
Make sure you’re studying the Constitution, folks. Be sure and listen on Thursdays for Foundations of Freedom Thursday right here on WallBuilders Live. Tomorrow, don’t miss Good News Friday, we got some good news stories to share with you. Thanks so much for listening today. You’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live.
Thomas Jefferson said, “In questions of power, then let no more be heard of confidence in man that bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”