Thursday, September 17, 2015

About our Constitution...on Constitution Day!

“I agree to this Constitution, with all its Faults, if they are such: because I think a General Government necessary for us, and there is no Form of Government but what may be a Blessing to the People if well administered; and I believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a Course of Years, and can only end in Despotism as other Forms have done before it, when the People shall become so corrupted as to need Despotic Government, being incapable of any other.” ~ James Wilson read on behalf of the ailing Benjamin Franklin at the conclusion of the Constitution Convention in Philadelphia, September 17, 1787.
As the broadcast static from the second GOP debate wanes (and I'll get to that later, perhaps), I find myself approaching the morning after in similar fashion as the close of the first: reflecting on the disarray of our union, ponderance on its future and its inherent generations, and if America, Americans, are capable of diverting from catastrophe, rediscovering our exceptional lot in the world. And quite appropriately, today happens to be Constitution Day! Alongside my reading of Levin's Plunder and Deceit, specifically, Chapter 10 On the Constitution, I've happen upon another excellent authority on our Constitution and what's become of its treatment...
Edwin Meese III: In 1878, William Gladstone described the U.S. Constitution as “the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man.” Gladstone was right.

Today marks the 228th anniversary of the signing of that wonderful work, a document still admired by people around the world, still revered by millions here at home. Increasingly, however, the Constitution is being ignored or flouted—not by “We the People,” but by our ruling elite.

One key theme permeating the great document is the concept of checks and balances. As James Madison wrote in The Federalist No. 51, “In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.”

By diffusing power—horizontally among the three separate branches of the federal government and vertically between the central government and the states—the Constitution’s Framers structured government to ensure the nation’s future strength and prosperity without sufficient power to threaten the liberty of the people.

Dividing sovereignty between two different levels—the nation and the states—was intended to prevent an unhealthy concentration of power in a single government. In the space left by a limited central government, the people could rule themselves by their own moral and social values and call on local political institutions to assist them. Where the people, through the Constitution, did consent for the central government to have a role, that role would similarly be guided by the people’s sense of what was valuable and good as articulated through the political institutions of the central government.

These safeguards on our liberty have been eroding slowly for decades. The corrosive agents are politicians who recognize no limits on their power, their activist allies in the judiciary who invent new rights, and elites in the media and academy who believe they know what is best for all Americans.

These individuals claim to focus more on “concepts of human dignity” they infer from the Constitution rather than on the actual text of the document. This subverts the Constitution’s very carefully drawn limits and leads to regrettable decisions by the Supreme Court. It has, for example, birthed reprehensible rulings such as those in Dred Scott v. Sandford and Plessy v. Ferguson, which helped bring on the Civil War and then cement the Jim Crow era. More recently, it has yielded Roe v. Wade and Obergefell v. Hodges, declaring that the Constitution mandates what are simply policy preferences (about abortion-on-demand and marriage, respectively) shared by a bare majority of the Justices.

The judiciary is not alone to blame. No one momentous event has pushed us onto this path to tyranny. Rather, we have been slowly led by a long series of small steps mapped out by the courts, the executive branch, and Congress. Dubious legal decisions, regulations, and legislative enactments have gradually diminished our liberty and freedom, and steadily increased the power of government over our lives.

From a president who unilaterally changed laws affecting millions of illegal aliens present in the United States, to members of Congress who fail even to read the bills they pass, to states that willingly accept strings-attached deals like the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, our government today blurs the delineation of power so carefully devised by the Framers.

As citizens, we have a responsibility to demand that our government respect the limits the Constitution places on it. The continued success and viability of our democratic republic depends upon our fidelity to, and the faithful exposition and interpretation of, this Constitution, our great charter of liberty.
We still hold the power in our own hands, with each and every vote, to coalesce around those who uphold the fidelity and virtues of liberty. Knowing this, and reflecting on what we've become, I'd be deceiving if I ignored the large amount of manning up we've got to do in a relatively short amount of time. We can do this, though. After all, we are Americans. Though we are chipped away from within daily, America continues to represent the last bastion of freedom. And our Constitution written by its Enlightened Framers still remains the standard-bearer of exceptionalism and excellence in a world where tyranny is the norm. It's time we restore, re-adhere and rededicate to its text as originally intented.

Related link: The Heritage Guide to The Constitution

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