Go with me on this. I think this type of thought experiment is healthy for Americans every once in a while since we’re so spoiled by our Constitution.
Let’s just imagine daily life without a Constitution. That would mean that the government is completely unconfined and can do whatever it pleases. It is the final source of authority and power on all issues.
I’ll assume that the state governments have bowed to the federal government as the king’s government and are essentially just enforcement agents of the federal government. I’ll also assume that this is an America where the Constitution hasn’t been around for quite a while, so it’s not normal to think of the Constitution or something confining government.
Remember, without a Constitution, there is no job description for the government. Anything goes.
The scenario I’m presenting is truly a thought experiment. The outcome of America without a Constitution could be much worse or slightly better; but no matter what, the outcome would always include a massive, all-encompassing government.
Ok, here we go… you get up and get ready for work. However, the government has recently decided that, for safety reasons (which can be literally anything as the government needs no justification for its actions), people cannot leave their houses until 8 am in the morning. So, you can’t leave until 8 and you make sure that you don’t leave a minute before 8 because you don’t want to be pulled by the police. If you are pulled over by the police, you know that the police could do whatever they want to you and you’ve heard too many horror stories of routine traffic stops where the police have rummaged through cars, arrested people, taken people’s cars, and more, all in the name of “safety” and “government protocol”.
You go to your job, which is not the job you wanted, but the government passed a law years ago dictating the number of workers allowed in each industry–for the health of the economy. So, you were originally an electrician but now you’re a plumber because the government recently readjusted the numbers and you were one of the ones that got cut from the ranks of electricians and re-assigned to plumbing. You don’t like it, but what else can you do? The government also sets the wages for every industry, making sure that everyone gets paid an equal wage. So, while you know your electrician’s friends and doctor friends had to work much longer and harder to hone their skills and get their degrees, you’re still paid the same as they are.
Of course, this makes you dread your doctor’s appointment in the afternoon. Dr. Snider never seems to care. New laws confine his ability to see patients. He’s no longer able to see patients who are of a certain age or have certain physical conditions because the government has deemed these patients an “unprofitable” use of valuable time and resources. This came about as a result of unequal access to healthcare (due to diminishing numbers of doctors and experts and fewer and fewer people wanting to be doctors once wages were set) and people demanding that government fix the problem.
So, the government decided that, for the betterment of the health of the community, certain people should no longer drain precious resources and time. Further, medicine is severely regulated because, in an attempt to make access to drugs free for everyone, there was not enough for everyone. This means that only someone who is deemed a profitable and useful patient (one whose likelihood of survival is high by government standards) is allowed access to the medicine. This was the government’s remedy for the problem that they themselves created.
On top of this, Dr. Snider never seems to really care about you or your situation. He can’t make more money and he has no autonomy or control over how he takes care of his patients, so you are a mere number to him. The government frequently reviews him to make sure he’s following protocol, so appointments are usually spent staring at the back of Dr. Snider’s head as he types in the answers you give him, making sure he doesn’t miss any of the required information.
The government is constantly passing new laws in an attempt to make the country more equal, more safe, and more accessible. And people keep demanding that government fix everything and of course, there’s nothing to stop the government from doing whatever they want. They’re the government and you know this but you can’t help but sometimes wish you could make them see that their laws are only making things worse rather than better.
You go to the store after your doctor’s appointment and have to make sure to bring in your list. The government made a law years ago dictating how much of every food item various household sizes are allowed to purchase. This law was passed after there was a massive food shortage when farmers revolted and refused to farm anymore unless their wages were increased. The government didn’t acquiesce and instead began rationing food, forcing the hands of the farming community.
You vaguely remember growing up in a world when there was something called a Constitution. You remember your parent’s talking about how they would say the government can’t do this or that because the Constitution says so. But you can’t imagine that kind of world. In your world, the government can do anything. It seems unreal to think that some entity, any entity, could ever be greater than the government or could tell the government what to do. It seems unreal that think that if a police officer pulled you over, you could say no to the officer if he or she wanted to know more information than you wanted to give. It’s surreal to think that the police couldn’t come into your house without a warrant because it would be violating your Constitutional right.
What must it feel like to be able to appeal to something above the government to protect you from this government? What must it feel like to be able to tell the government they can’t do something? Why did your parent’s generation want to get rid of such a document? Why would they waste it? What you wouldn’t give to be able to appeal to something above government, to protect yourself from government.
Every day the government passes new laws dictating and controlling your life and there’s nothing you can say. There’s nothing you can do. It’s suffocating. It’s frustrating and endless. There’s nowhere to turn. There’s nothing to do. You’re stuck. Everyone is stuck. You walk around and everyone seems just as suffocated as you. People don’t look at each other, or talk to each other. It’s too risky. The government passed a law twenty years ago banning hate speech, but the meaning of hate speech expanded and evolved so much over the past twenty years that almost everything could be considered hate speech. There’ve been too many stories of people accidentally saying the wrong thing to someone and then being reported and disappearing. Because of this, no one trusts anyone so no one talks to anyone. If, on some rare occasion, you do talk to someone, it’s always about the most mundane and pointless things.
Poverty is rampant but only because people don’t care to take care of themselves or their places. No one is motivated to work hard because no one can reap a reward for working hard. You don’t care to do well in your job. I mean, you’re guaranteed the wage you’re getting by the government. Your employers can’t change it, lower it, or fire you. Why try? You feel miserable and stuck anyway. You get enough money to get your rations and keep your small family fed. Of course, you know that the people who keep having plumbing problems are probably not that pleased with your half-hearted job, but hey, it means you get to come back and work on it again, which means you get to stay busy. And staying busy is better than the misery of boredom. And you know this is how everyone treats their job, which is why all the houses, stores, hospitals, and industries are mediocre at best, and absolutely dismal at worst.
At night, you might watch a little TV, but there’s not much to watch. Government regulations ramped up over the years because of threats of insurrection, hate speech, misinformation, and the like. The government made laws to stop all of these problems. The people demanded it anyway.
Shall I keep going?
My friends. Welcome to a world without a standard.
The Liberty Belle