American Governance

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By: Wayne Brown


Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Ginsburg, recently commented on the U.S. Constitution in such a manner that the comment on its own leaves one with the feeling that maybe she feels the USA has a very poor constitution. Justice Ginsburg remarked that she would not look to the U.S. Constitution as a model if she were drafting a constitution in 2012. This remark was offered in reference to Egypt’s work toward establishing a new government for itself. The remark has certainly drawn some heavy criticism especially in light of the fact that Ms. Ginsburg is a sitting justice on the Supreme Court of the United States of America. Given that she has a sworn oath to protect and defend the Constitution, it is apparent why some would be bothered by the remark. My perspective is that Ms. Ginsburg was simply pointing out that the U.S. Constitution may not have enough liberal rules woven into it to suit the needs of a new nation thus indicating that she believes the Constitution is far too simple for the purposes it serves. On that aspect, I firmly believe Ms. Ginsburg has lost touch with the original intent and purpose of the Constitution.


One does not have to read every single word of the Constitution document to determine the intent and purpose. It is clearly stated in the opening statement of the document. The Constitution as developed by the framers has six purposes in mind: 1. To create a more perfect union 2. To establish Justice 3. To insure domestic Tranquility 4. To provide for the common defense 5. To promote the general Welfare 6. To secure the Blessing of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity. In totality, the statement reads as follows: We the people, of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”


That statement in its short simplicity defines the Constitution as a document of guidance designed to accomplish those purposes. In doing so, it goes further in the various Articles to describe how the government will be structured and organized in order to accomplish those defined goals. One must also take pause to note that the first three words in the preamble are “We the People”. This was no accident as the founders wanted to make it clear that the government designed and spelled out in the framework of the Constitution was the one desired by the “People” who made up the citizenship of this new nation and that the guidelines and requirements so stipulated followed the desires of those people to the greatest extent possible in creating a framework to accomplish the original intent and purposes described in the preamble. Those intents and purposes along with the framework for the government were reviewed and ratified by the states indicating that the citizens making up the population were in consensus on the content of the document. In other words, we found a common ground for agreement in establishing our nation. Did that mean that everyone got what they wanted…absolutely not, but it did define a foundation on which to base the entire premise of governing a free people.


If indeed the Constitution were an all-encompassing document much like the rule book for a sports game, one might conclude that there would be no need for a Supreme Court and life would be less complicated. Of course that would not be the case as in any document there must be a body that rules on the “intent” of the given document…even a sports game rulebook. The real litmus test then is to have a governing body such as the Supreme Court rule on those actions which either jeopardize the intent of the Constitution or aim to expand or deny that intent. For those purposes, that test must come back to the intended purposes of the preamble if it is to be interpreted in the same fashion each time. Too often in recent decades we have seen a court system more intent on legislating law than interpreting it. In some cases the rulings handed down do not sit well with the original statement of purpose. Certainly the basis for structuring the Supreme Court as it is designed takes into account that we must have wise and well-experienced people on the bench and there must be sufficient numbers of them to bring out as much perspective on an issue as possible. In following such an approach the founders helped to insulate the people from the dangers of a tyrannical court operating on laws decreed by one person.


As stated earlier, the preamble is a clear statement of intent and purpose as directed by the people. The seven articles and subsections following the preamble describe how a government with such purpose will be organized, how the people will be elected to serve and the limits of that service, as well as the working relationship between the major factions of that government in terms of checks and balances. Beyond that point, one encounters the amendments to the original document of which the first ten represent the original “Bill of Rights” spelling out those “rights of the people” which are granted at birth as a function of citizenship in this nation and cannot be restricted or taken away by governmental entity or any single person functioning within the prescribed government. Beyond the initial ten amendments, one sees the various amendments which have been made to the original document over time. The document is purposely designed to be difficult to amend requiring a significant majority vote in the legislative branch and the approval of the President along with the scrutiny of the Supreme Court in protecting the sanctity of the original document.


There is one provision which is “external” to the Constitution yet is so very important to the focus and the sustainability of the document. That provision is “respect”. The people who populate this nation subscribe to the “Rule of Law” and expect to be extended those rights granted them at birth as citizens of the country. They also expect that the country will be defended and that law and order will rule the day. Those elected to high office are expected to and do solemnly swear to uphold and defend the Constitution. That process in swearing an individual into office should never be disregarded or taken lightly for it establishes the awareness on the part of the public and the individual office holder of their intent to uphold and defend the Constitution. That process speaks loudly to the fact that the Constitution is the center of our universe here in the United States of America and the purposes and intent of that document will be respected in all that we do. Respect is assumed and always has been.


Unfortunately, we live in a time in which too many people do not want to adhere to the intent and purpose of the Constitution. This includes those who would hold high office in the country. The current president has made negative references to the Constitution alluding to it being old and outdated. The fact that respecting this document may be an encumbrance to his needs and desires while in office do not serve as a rationale to defy the stipulations of the document. When that occurs, the necessity for “respect” is lost and the document begins to slip away from its intended center in our form of governance. For some, that is no “big deal” but those who understand the Constitution know that this is the first and most effective step toward tyranny in the government. When leaders trash this document or openly defy it, they are basically sending a message to the people that they do not have to follow the rules and that they will make them up as they go. At that point, it becomes a test of power as to whether or not that individual can sustain his/her tenure in office. The system, as it was designed, then begins to fall apart simply for the lack of proper respect and in open defiance of the oath taken when entering office. At that point, the question arises as to whether the powers of impeachment can and will be applied and who will carry out that process. In that moment, if the people do not have the “will” to see the document both respected and followed, then it is likely there will be no expectation of impeachment and the shadow of tyranny will be at the door for America.


Our education system spends endless amounts of money on the process of educating young people and preparing them for adult life. In that process, we have lost the emphasis on understanding our process of governance and the Constitution. We have far too many people who know more about “rap music” than they do constitutional government. We get that result for the lack of instruction and for allowing apathy to become the mindset of far too many along the way. In that apathetic state, the assumption is that “everything is going to be alright and I don’t need to worry about it.” Then one day, a person manages to attain the presidency that has no respect for the Constitution and the process toward tyranny and big government begins to insert itself into the lives of all citizens while they look the other way.


Some would point out that the Constitution does not address homosexuality, same-sex marriage, gender bias, or a multitude of subjects as their proof that the document is antiquated and outdated in terms of its value in our society. The point they miss in this analysis is that the document was never intended to address such specifics. Under the statement of the preamble, reference is made to “securing the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity”. This intent may weigh into specific considerations. We must also remember the “Bill of Rights” in these considerations as well. But, ultimately, how these specifics will be addressed will inevitably be up to the body put in place to interpret that intent and whether it applies to a particular specific. That was the intended method at the outset and that is still the intent today. The Constitution was never intended to be a rulebook which addressed every possible scenario but it was intended to provide a foundation of guidance and a framework of government which would address specifics in the prescribed manner and rule on them on the basis of the “will of the people”.


Given that premise, it does not mean that every person or group gets to do what they want or have their way on a given subject. If one wants to measure the absurdity of that, simply think of a given group who would find great joy in going about every town in America beating drums at all hours of the night. While that might be something they feel is a “right”, it violates the intent of the Constitution in that it directly affects the “domestic tranquility” which all citizens are intended to enjoy. On that basis, the act does not fit the intent of the Constitution and laws are already in place in anticipation of such acts thereby making it clear that such behavior is not condoned under the “rights” described for individuals or groups by the governing document. The people in general would expect that the Supreme Court would uphold such a position if those laws are challenged in the court system.


We must always remember that the Constitution was designed to “protect the people” of this nation first and foremost. It was not designed to make governing easy or to allow easy manipulation of the governmental process by individuals or groups. When someone decries the document on that basis, their intended use of the document is called into question and their respect for constitution governance should be suspect. For those who think tossing the Constitution into the garbage can on the basis that it is “old and outdated” is the answer to our problems in this country, I can only say that such an action would only be the start of chaos and confusion in the country and would singularly lead to the advent of tyranny in our government and the eventual loss of freedom and liberty for all citizens.


The U.S. Constitution and its associated documents has weathered the test of time and it will continue to do so as long as the citizens respect it as an instrument of governance and demand that respect from all who serve us in the government. If ever there was a place where the term “don’t tread on me” applies, it would be in reference to the United States Constitution and the protection it affords all citizens of this country.


©Copyright WBrown2012. All Rights Reserved.

8 February 2012

I regard the U.S. Constitution as....

  • A framework designed to support and protect the people from the dangers of big government.
  • As an outmoded, outdated document which has no modern day relevance.
  • An unfamiliar document to me on which I am not comfortable having an opinion.
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Comments 23 comments

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

Good article Wayne. The great thing about our constitution is it adaptable to fit all times. The process of amendments allows that. It is not simple to do because the founders did not want frivolous changes. Unfortunately those who want change have been sidestepping the constitution. As far as it being good for other counties, I have my doubts I think the constitution is grounded in our culture and values and might be hard to adapt to some other culture.

I don't ask it to be used by other countries but I do ask that this country stick to our constitution.


ib radmasters profile image

ib radmasters 4 years ago from Southern California

Wayne

Like a virus changes the normal cells in your body, the Constitutional Amendments and the Supreme Court have mutated the intent and usefulness of the Constitution. Not that the original Constitution was perfect, but it was better than the mutation of it today.

my opinion..


breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 4 years ago

The beauty of our Constitution is in its simplicity and intent. It was never designed nor should it ever be changed to ensure entitlements and the kind of "change" that Pres. Obama is pining for. Up and awesome.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Barack Obama recently complained that the Constitution and Congress are keeping him from making all the changes he wants to make in his fundamental transformation of America.

Thank God for the Constitution and Congress!


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 4 years ago from Texas Author

@dahoglund...My sentiments exactly DA and I like to think that is probably what Ginsburg was thinking especially in light of her liberal leanings...she would like more instruction, restriction, regulation, whatever. It works for us when it is properly employed if we can stop the abuse. Thanks much. WB

@ibradmasters...There's truth in what you say but I am afraid we would be even worse off if we had not hung on to what we have. Those who would like to do away with it want us to believe that things would improve but I don't see that happening. In fact, I am waiting for those who took their oath of office to uphold the oath. If the legislative or judicial branch allows the president to walk all over the document without offering a defense then we have failed the founders in guarding the document as our centerpiece for government and all bets are off. Thanks much. WB

@breakfastpop...Very true. If the document is used correctly, it still works very well. I am more worried about those who would trash it while everyone else just stands by and watches. WB


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 4 years ago from Texas Author

@WillStarr...I am with you, Will. Congress is basically signing away its oversight and check n balances powers if it allows Obama to re-organize the government. He has no intention of making government smaller so his only real interest is shaping it to fit his needs in the march down the road to socialism. Thanks much! WB


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida

This article, Wayne, should be required reading not only for every U.S. student who can read (which eliminates a major portion of them, I fear), but for every U.S. citizen as well. The Constitution is a remarkable document which needs to be followed ... NOT chnged. Thanks for reminding us all. Voted way UP!


geordmc 4 years ago from Beliot, Wisconsin

This article should also be read by the politicians in office now, as well. I would hope that sooner rather than later we get some people in office who understand the meaning of the term "Cosntitutional Rights" before trying to take them away from us


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 4 years ago from Texas Author

@drbj...You are so right, Doc...we need to follow it and things will find their place while our liberty and freedoms are protected under the same umbrella...you can't ask for better than that. WB

@geordmc...Amen to that! Thanks much for the good comments. WB


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Wayne, I agree 100% with drbj in terms of "required reading." This hub is outstanding.

Seems there's much reason to be grateful that "Ruth" will not be given the opportunity to "draft a Constitution in 2012!"

I cannot bear to even entertain a time to come that will find our Constitution being trashed while others merely stand by.

Thank you for this invaluable read. Up ++


CMerritt profile image

CMerritt 4 years ago from Pendleton, Indiana

What an amazing document it really is....and how blessed are we to have that document, and the men who wrote it....to even imagine the notion that God did not have a hand in its foundation boggles my mind.

Wayne you did a brilliant job of defining that piece of paper...and this would make an excellent key note speech to those who want to learn more about it.

I am sending this, with your permission, out as an email...to few of my "liberal" friends who just don't get it.

Chris


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 4 years ago from Texas Author

@fpherj48...I totally agree. We do not possess the wisdom, insight or the concern for our fellow man enough today to be able to create a document that is more capable than the one we have. Our problem is that we just are not using it properly and too many of our elected officials seek ways to circumvent it in the name of expediency and other interests bordering on tyranny.

@CMerritt...Please copy the text now, Chris as I have just completed my final edit and it reads more correctly. I go most of the "oops" out. Otherwise...a link with work fine. Thanks much for those good words. We are not capable of creating this fine document today...we don't have the wisdom nor do we possess the love of freedom and liberty held by the founding fathers. That was apparent when they lay their differences aside to create this marvelous piece of work. WB


The Frog Prince profile image

The Frog Prince 4 years ago from Arlington, TX

Wayne - If Ginsburg leans any farther to the left she'll topple over. Here we have a SCOTUS Justice sitting on the court interpreting what she finds unfavorable? Beats the hell out of me...

The Frog


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 4 years ago from Texas Author

@The Frog Prince...I would think that Supreme Court Justices would refrain from opinions unless they are related to a case verdict...but not the case here. WB


The Frog Prince profile image

The Frog Prince 4 years ago from Arlington, TX

Wayne - Just a thought. Maybe she'll get to weigh in on whether whales are people and protected by the US Constitution. The country has gone mad! LMAO

TFP


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 4 years ago from Texas Author

@The Finance Hub...Thank you...it would be nice to think that someone in Washington was telling us about the Constitution in such form...not likely. I agree with youon the dress up just have to find the time to do it. WB


ib radmasters profile image

ib radmasters 4 years ago from Southern California

Wayne

I would have to question how worse that could be from where are this century. But, my comment is that the constitution was a good idea, but it could have been better. But don't forget the Articles of Confederation and the fact that the constitution allowed slavery.

But my real point is that the Supreme Court as a good idea of checks and balances has been corrupted in the last fifty years to weaken the good points of the constitution.

starting from the Income Tax, to the SS and Medicare, and misusing the Civil Right Amendments.

All of these are abuses of Unequal Protection, and discrimination. The Supreme Court should have ruled against Income Tax and certainly progressive Income Tax. To make people that a forced to file their income tax give up their fifth amendment right of not being a witness against them selves, the government requires signing the tax return under penalty of perjury. Thus making it possible for the government to pursue the crimes of tax evasion, and perjury merely to collect a tax. I am not defending criminals, but many tax payers have been extorted by the government on some let us say challenging interpretations of the tax law. Which by the way changes yearly. The income tax doesn't merely collect taxes, it collects information about the person filling out their returns.

They shouldn't have allowed the Civil Rights Acts which were really to protect the freed slaves from retribution and attack from a losing Confederacy.. Social Security was discriminatory and mandatory on only a few, and then later it was allowed to expand.

My point is that the Supreme Court has not always acted in the best interest of the country.

There actions in the last several decades are the worst that the Supreme Court has made in their history. That is just my opinion.

I hope that I didn't stray too much from the purpose of your hub. If I did, feel free to delete this comment.

Thanks


FitnezzJim profile image

FitnezzJim 4 years ago from Fredericksburg, Virginia

Those government servants who think our Constitution is flawed are oath bound to uphold it anyway. In my opinion, if they do believe it is flawed, they are also oath bound to seek change through one of the amendment processess that are described in Article V of the Constitution.

Our founding fathers understood the need to provide for an orderly process for change. A quick review of history indicates we are in the third longest period of our history without ratifying a change to the Constitution. The longest was 61 years and ended with the end of the Civil War. The second longest was 43 years and resulted in the Income Tax and Senators elected by the people. This one is at 30 years and counting. The data suggests that the longer we try to go without change to our Constitution, the more drastice the results.

Look at the elitism of today and think on it, and

Remember in November.


Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas

Excellent Hub and I, too, am sharing it with friends -- if it influences one person to realize what's going on in this country and what was intended to go on -- it'll be time well spent. I always stand astounded at your ability to go to the crux of any matter and then share your thoughts with your readers in simple, straight forward language/terms. Thank you, Wayne, from the bottom of this old heart for carrying a much-needed torch. Best/Sis


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 4 years ago from Texas Author

@ib radmasters...you certainly covered a lot of ground with your comment and I cannot hope to answer it. On the issue of slavery, I would say that the Constitution addresses it in the same manner as the current day issue of same-sex marriage..it leaves the decision to the Supreme Court to decide within the boundaries outlined by the Constitution. Does that mean everyone will agree...no! But, it does mean that it was ruled on in light of the Constitution by the appointed governing body who (it is assumed) is operating under the guidance of and in respect of the Constitution. Thanks much. WB

@FitnezzJim....Amen to all that, Jim. I am with you all the way on your points. WB

@Angela Blair...You make my day with your comment and I feel like I accomplished my goal with this piece. I was upset with Justice Ginsburg statement but I attempted to give her the benefit of the doubt. Then it hit me that far too many in this country really do not understand the intent of the Constitution...one might add Justice Ginsburg to that group! LOL! Thanks so very much and so glad you are sharing! WB


H P Roychoudhury profile image

H P Roychoudhury 4 years ago from Guwahati, India

Constitution is a document of guidance, as an outsider I prefer to write a Constitution should not be stable. It should be dynamic. A Constitution which was made two hundred years before can not suffice the present needs, the thoughtful demand and the necessity being altered with the lapse of time. With the change of geographical nature, the nature of political governance and above all the change of day to day e-governance, the change of Constitution becomes a necessity.


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 4 years ago from Texas Author

@H P Roychoudhury...I think if you will read the U.S. Constitution, there are provisions which can be judged to apply in most any instances. That is the beauty of the document...it does adapt with the times. We neither possess the courage or the wisdom to create such a document today that would be as useful. At times change is a necessity but in the process we should not lose the spirit of the orginal document. That is the reason it was purposely made to be difficult to amend and change. Our moral and ethical values should be much like they originally were. Remember the preamble...that is the basis for writing the Constitution in the first place...to accomplish those six goals. There was never an intent to cure world hunger, establish world peace, create a welfare state, or debate whether dolphins have human rights. It is up to the legislators and the courts to decide those points but in the process, they cannot violate the orginal intent of the Constitution nor can they trample on the Bill of Rights contained within and devised to protect the citizens. The Constitution clearly defines perameters which establishes the litmus process by which all things are measured in our society. That is the "fairness" aspect of the approach. Once we go rogue, each situation starts to be approached in a different manner and chaos ensues. If the element of "respect" is sustained, the Constitution remains the center of our guidance and our reasoning. Thanks much. WB


H P Roychoudhury profile image

H P Roychoudhury 4 years ago from Guwahati, India

If I am not wrong the Constitution of United States is made based on the Preamble which is as such. “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America “.

It was the attempts of the court at different time to interpret the Constitution to preserve preambles. In many cases courts have ruled that the Constitution must be interpreted in light of these changed circumstances. That is why the Supreme Court of United States has to articulate a variety of special rules of construction and principles for interpreting it. The court has given a broad interpretation of individual freedoms. At an earlier time US was against of sending American troops to Europe or in other regions. Now American troops are in Korea and Afghanistan. After 9/11 attack, America can not remain a silent spectator to the killing and terrorist attack over American citizens because the preamble dictates “promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves”. Does the interpretation of constitution have not changes with the change of situation? I do not know have I the right to say so. But for the sake of discussion I took part and beg excuse if I do anything wrong. It is true I am not an American but an Indian. I do personally believe and respect in any document made for the welfare of human beings irrespective of country.

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