America is lost.
Maybe we should pull out our map.
That the country is wandering in the wilderness is clear just from our willy-nilly, zigzag, harum-scarum, mortgage-the-farm-repeatedly Congress -- which is rated by Gallup as the worst in recorded memory, and for good reason. Those in power don't seem to know what form of government we have, and therefore what the limit of their power and authority is.
Or, ominously, where the limit of our patience is.
The health-care reform bill is but one example, albeit the most egregious. It has created what amounts to a constitutional crisis, with nearly half the states finding it necessary to call on the courts to rein in an out-of-control federal government. But again, this is just one example out of many.
Nor is it merely the legislative branch that is overgrown: With a complicit, bended-knee Democratic leadership in Congress, the executive branch has sprouted odiferous little buds of unchecked power -- as best exemplified by the explosion of bureaucratic regulation and powerful, unaccountable "czars" that are being allowed to exist outside the constitutional framework that was intended to give the Senate oversight on such appointments.
This constitutional crisis, not the economic one, is the story of our time. Our financial fortunes will ebb and flow, but once lost, our fundamental rights as Americans can scarcely be regained.
Our government is hopelessly lost. It's time to check the map: the Constitution.
This newspaper is calling on constitutional experts to form a team to perform what amounts to a "constitutional audit" of the federal government.
We need a panel of scholars to examine the federal leviathan -- its agencies, its czars, its pronouncements and all its meanderings into American life -- and determine how much of it all is truly authorized by our founding document.
This is far more than an academic exercise. It's tantamount to having engineers come out to see whether you are building your house properly above the foundation -- or if you're building off it, in the shifting sand.
The poured concrete of the Constitution, far from being taffy that can be pulled in any direction like the "living document" some like to call it, is the bedrock upon which the greatest nation on Earth arose. It wasn't Americans' DNA that made America great; we're not born superior to others around the world. It all comes back to the founding principles we once lived by.
"The future of liberty depends on reclaiming America's first principles," says the Heritage Foundation, in its Leadership for America "First Principles" project -- which warns of "an ever-expanding and centralized government, unmoored from constitutional limits.
"We must restore the principles of America's Founders to their proper role in the public and political discourse, influencing public policy and reforming government to reflect constitutional limits. ... (O)ur vision ... must now be to save America by reclaiming its truths and its promises and conserving its liberating principles for ourselves and our posterity."
In our view, that quest should begin with a constitutional audit -- a top-to-bottom inspection to find out where the federal government has stepped off its constitutional foundation.
It will then be up to us to get it back where it belongs. Otherwise, we will have a make-it-up-as-we-go-along federal government -- and soon, neither we nor the world will recognize this country.