Idaho Citizens Demonstrate More Fidelity to U.S. Constitution than Rep. Joe Palmer

March 4, 2021
Idaho Citizens Demonstrate More Fidelity to the U.S. Constitution than Rep. Joe Palmer
Mock House Committee passes ‘Defend the Guard’ bill
(Boise, Idaho) — Last Thursday, in the weekly Capitol Clarity event, Idaho citizens participated in the creative exercise of a mock legislative hearing at the Idaho Capitol. Hosted by Lieutenant Governor Janice McGeachin, these residents gained first-hand experience serving as a mock committee and using the parliamentary process as they debated and passed by an 18-1 margin a “Defend the Guard” bill. 

The proponent of the legislation was ret. Sgt. Dan McKnight, who served thirteen years in the military, including the Marine Corps, the U.S. Army, and the Idaho National Guard. As a Guardsman he was deployed to the war in Afghanistan from 2005 to 2007.

“Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 of the United States Constitution states in the enumerated powers that Congress and Congress only may change the state of our nation from peace to war. But Congress hasn’t done their job, and the Executive, a single person, has continually put us into war over and over again,” McKnight told the assembled students. 

Two years ago, McKnight founded BringOurTroopsHome.US as a right-of-center veterans advocacy organization seeking to voice the opinion of a majority of veterans who want to end our endless wars in the Middle East and withdraw troops from Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.

This will be accomplished through returning to the U.S. Constitution and obligating Congress to do its job. “Congress doesn’t want to have to go home to their home districts and answer for a war vote. They don’t want to look their constituents in the eye and explain why they’ve committed our sons and daughters and our treasure to fight in some foreign land that’s far away from our own,” McKnight said in his testimony.

“Defend the Guard” is state-based legislation which would prohibit the Idaho National Guard from deploying into active combat without an official declaration of war from the U.S. Congress. “If it’s time to go to war, we should declare it and the National Guard should go and win our nation’s wars and then return home,” McKnight continued, contrasting this with the continual, unconstitutional deployments being performed under the Global War on Terror.

Our endless wars abroad have been enabled by an absentee Congress, who was satisfied to defer decision making the executive branch, which historically has been the most warlike. “In 2001 Congress abdicated…their responsibility and they signed a blank check, an Authorization for the Use of Military Force (which is referred to as an AUMF), which gave the president the right and the ability to send our entire military anywhere in the world for any amount of time for any purpose that the executive saw fit. And the result is we’ve been at war now for 20 years,” said McKnight.

After being informed of their constitutional prerogative, the ill effects of endless war on the lives, finances, and souls of the American people and their soldiers, and the historical precedents for state action to hold the federal government accountable, the assembled citizens passed the bill with gusto, and an overwhelming 18-1 majority.

Unfortunately, Rep. Joe Palmer (R-Meridian) does not possess the same respect for procedure, deference to our founding document, and admiration for our men and women in uniform as his voters. When a real “Defend the Guard” bill was brought before the House Transportation & Defense Committee three weeks ago, Chairman Palmer did everything in (and out) of his power to stop it.

Introduced by Rep. Ben Adams (R-Nampa), who served in Afghanistan as a Marine, the bill received a majority of the committee’s support through a voice vote. But to prevent it from going to the House floor, Chairman Palmer declared it had failed, despite the affirmative being twice as audible as the negative. When a member of the committee requested a roll call vote, Palmer declined and adjourned. 

This is the kind of underhanded and malicious conduct befitting Washington DC, not the great people of Idaho, who demand honesty and directness from their elected officials.

When McKnight concluded his mock testimony on Thursday, he said, “Unlike the swamp in Washington DC, I don’t bow down to the gods that they worship. The gods of endless war, the gods of war profiteering, the gods of the military-industrial complex. My god inspired the founding fathers to create the Constitution which protects our God-given rights.”

Unfortunately, Rep. Joe Palmer made it evident that he does follow these false gods of militarism, placing the demands of his powerful political allies over the needs of our soldiers. As an organization we hope he realizes his duplicity, reverses his stance, and gains the wisdom exhibited by Idaho citizens in their mock legislative committee.

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