By: Wayne Brown
The Constitution of the United States of America opens its statement of purpose with a term that we should all stop and give much thought on…”We, the people”. It does not say, “We, the Founding Fathers” or “We, the most intelligent”, or “We, the ones who care the most”. It says, “We the people…” clearly, plainly, and very purposely. That reference is no accident and is one of the more important references in the entire document as it was created by the Founding Fathers.
“We, the people”…that is “us” for all eternity, generation after generation. The reference was not put there to point to the people in that time but very specifically put there to engage all people through all generations for time on end to know that “We, the people” put forth the effort the create this country and the documents which govern it. “We, the people..” sets the tone of the entire document and points to the total genius of it as a document of governing principle in our society.
The Preamble or statement of purpose to the United States Constitution reads, “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.”
In that statement of purpose for creating the document that is the Constitution, the points are made that, we, as a people, are primarily interested in creating a “better place for ourselves” and want to establish a government which will provide a system of justice, insure a peaceful co-existence, insure that we are safe from harm, and that we are able to move forward within that governance in a free manner in order that we can enjoy a more prosperous life for ourselves and our families. That was and still should be our common purpose as a country.
Unfortunately, that is no longer the case. This statement of purpose has been stretched in so many directions that it loses all focus as a guiding centerline on our road of life. The statement in and of itself establishes the desire to be governed by a set of rules (laws) along with establishing the fact that we desire to be free of encumberance and fears and that such governance should provide for those desires in the manner in which it conducts its limited business on a daily basis. The scope and limit of an envisioned federal government is very clear in that single statement of purpose contained in the Preamble.
Those words were written over 200 years ago but still ring true to those who subscribe to the principles of a democratic society today. But something is missing which was there in the beginning; something very important is missing from the equation today. If we are to sustain ourselves as a great nation of free people, we must find that missing element and put it into its proper place in our society.
In my mind, that element is “respect”. As a nation, we have, first and foremost, lost too much of our awe and respect for the founding documents, specifically the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Part of that loss of respect is our own fault in that we have allowed our educational system in this country to discount these items in their teaching. We have basically allowed young people of newer generations to enter adult life with little or no knowledge of the principles on which this country was founded. In ignorance, they cannot have respect for our Constitutional basis of government for they have little knowledge of it. That lack of “respect” if you will extends beyond the documents and eventually begins to affect how we feel about each other in our efforts to sustain the country.
Common purpose is the glue that holds this nation together. As stated in the preamble, it is what we, as a people, agree on in principle to be the basis for our governance and laws in this country. We can disagree on many things but on this point, at the very roots of our existence as a nation, we agree or should agree. If we do not, then maybe we do not belong here in this society. If we do not, maybe that explains why our efforts do not support the on-going sustainment of democracy and individual liberties. Maybe it explains why some among us feel that “the people” should bow and pay homage to an all-powerful, big central monster of a government. Maybe that explains why they work so hard to change something that totally fitted the intent and purpose in the first place.
Those without respect for the Constitution and the Rule of Law feel that it is perfectly fine to go through law making it up along the way. They work to shape laws and regulations to sustain their efforts and justify their means. They basically want to reshape the clay into a form that suites their needs. Their definition of a “living document” is one that can be changed on a daily basis to facilitate their actions. This is clearly Obama’s position when considering his recent appointments to the NLRB with Congressional consideration…simply rewrite the guidance pertaining to the issue.
For some, there is no perceived danger in such actions for they see the person(s) taking such actions as acting in their best interest or welfare. With that perception, they take little notice that the guidance and intent of the Constitution has been trampled in the process. They see no danger of the downstream implications of ignoring the basis of principle within our society.
One might look to the Bible in the same way. As a document which provides religious guidance and reference. There may be many who populate the Christian world who find it cumbersome and , yes, outdated. These people, rather than make any attempt to comply with the “spirit” of the words of the Lord, Jesus Christ, would much rather prefer that their minister revise the intent and meaning giving them latitude to more easily describe themselves as persistent followers of the Christian faith. Don’t change the person or their actions; no…change the document that should be guiding it…it’s much easier that way in their minds.
This same attitude then gets applied to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Rule of Law. When encumberance is encounter, the expectation is that we either ignore or change the document to adjust it to our comfort level. "What could be the danger?" is the question which comes to mind…all things require change, don't they? That answer is a very easy one to anyone who sees these documents as our guiding principles. The danger is “societal drift” and the accompanying loss of values.
Like a gyro spinning in a specific plane, the principles of the founding documents provide the inputs to our society that the laws of physics provide to the stability of the gyro. Play with the physics and the gyro starts to drift from its original plane and eventually totally loses its orientation. The same can be said of a society…continue to change the basis on which it was founded and soon there is no basis for it to sustain. This is the ever-present danger we face as a people yet we have those among us more than willing to make those adjustments of convenience to our guiding principles. When we allow it, we give up some of our freedom, and with it some of our security as a people and as a nation. There is no threat with such grave consequences as the threat of losing our direction as a people. When we do, we lose the glue that binds us as one.
We live in a nation today in which the Preamble to the Constitution is really difficult to recognize. Part of that problem is driven by ignorance, by a lack of the teachings of our own heritage as a country, and also by the efforts of those who no longer feel that the basis on which our country was established is a viable one. We live in a time when the elected President of the United States is heard to refer to the Constitution as an “old, out-dated, document”…a very poor assessment coming from a man purporting to hold a Magna Cum Laude Juris Doctorate from a highly recognized institution of higher learning. The audacity of such a remark from a man holding the highest office in the land is beyond comprehension and demonstrates to far too many of the “ignorant” among us that “respect” for the founding documents is of no consequence. For all the intelligence attributed to this man holding that high office, he apparently has not understanding of “societal drift”
The Constitution is our “litmus test” against which all things of a judicial or governing nature are compared to decide whether or not they meet the intent of our original purpose. If they fail that test, they are declared “unconstitutional” and those who designed them can head back to their drawing boards. This keeps us “on centerline” with regard to our intentions and purposes as a nation and a people. If we continually modify the original document to suit the moment, it eventually loses all of the original intent by which it was designed. Over time, that effect can lead to a loss of certain and guarantee that as a society we are headed for the ditch.
Restoring respect for the Constitution as our guiding principle allows us to create values which are directly linked to our principles thus maintaining a steady course as the country passes through decades and eventually centuries. Technology changes enabling many things to happen in faster and efficient ways. Progress comes at light speed yet the principles established by the Constitution allow us to establish our values in such a way as to adopt them to the modern day aspects of the world. This is the beauty of the original document and the primary reason that it has withstood attacks for so long. Those who respect it will defend it to the death and understand clearly and completely why they would do so.
“We the people” put forth the Constitution as a formal statement of what we believe and as a representation of those principles and values which we can and will respect. Certainly that fact was evident to the Founding Fathers at the time of creation. That same awareness should still reside with us today but ignorance and apathy have overshadowed it. The Constitution is a powerful instrument but it is not self-sustaining and in many ways is a delicate as the wings of a butterfly. The appreciation and understanding of it should be a basic requirement of our educational process in order that the respect the document commands is not given but is understood. If we are truly to form and sustain a “more perfect union” as a people then this process must be never-ending.
In November 2012, the country will face another national election process which will decide who will lead the country for the next four years. We will also see key positions in both chambers of the legislative branch come under the same scrutiny. As we approach this process, let us not forget the commonality which binds us as a nation. Let us not forget that the Constitution has stood for all of us for all this time so that we truly are a free people living with liberty and justice. When we decide to make that mark on the ballot for elective office, let us stop and remember those who have put forth far too much effort to trash the essence of our being as Americans; let us remember those who would refer to such a document as outdated, and let us not forget those who shown distain for the limitations of the Constitution rather than respect for all the freedoms, rights, and liberties which it guarantees each and every one of us as citizens of this country.
Let us cast our vote with those thoughts foremost in our mind ever aware that our future as a free society is on the line more than ever in this process. Let us find respect and admiration for the documents that got us through more than 200 years of history and allowed us to remain in line with our original intentions over the course. If we give due consideration to those factors, we will elect the right candidates to office and the Constitution will remain in its rightful place as the backdrop and fabric of our society.
If we continue on the current course and continue to put elected leaders who have little or no respect for the Constitution in high places, our future as a nation is in grave jeopardy. Losing our focus on the intent and purposes established in our founding documents can only lead to chaos and tyranny. As a people, we ran away from tyranny in our effort to find the freedoms and liberties we so desired. Let’s not let those currently in office and in the media convince us that the documents we used to establish this new world; this new country, are of little use, and need only be trashed. If we embrace those conclusions as a people then the road to our demise will be a very short one.
A newly elected President places his hand on the Bible and repeats the following simple Oath of Office,
"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." The President may also “elect” to add the words, “so help me, God” if he/she chooses.Note that there are only two real concerns noted in the Oath…doing the job on a daily basis and assuring that the Constitution remains a respected, principle document. “To the best of his ability”, the new President swears or affirms that he will uphold, preserve, and protect the Constitution. Those were the words which were important for those who founded this nation to hear from the voice of the man who the people had elected to this office and entrusted with their future. They wanted to hear that commitment and know that respect for this vital document was truly in place at the helm of our country. It is a simple oath but it carries much weight in terms of the value placed on the Constitution.
Today, we have a President sitting in the office who seems to truly search for new opportunities to downplay the importance of the Constitution in our government, our process, and our lives. He wants to reinvent America in a shape that he and his socialist cronies envision and toss that old, out-dated document into the trash can behind the White House. He tests the water regularly to see if that is a viable option. Too often, the voices of opposition are silent and unheard as they cower in their legislative chambers praying for electoral success and lining their pockets with earmark and PAC money. The Constitution is left to its own fate with only the voices of the American people left to stand up and question. At present, the President still believes that the American people will come forward but the time will come, if he can remain in office long enough, when he will test that premise, the time will come.
If we should allow such a terrible act to take place, then it will be needless to spend anytime searching for the guilty party who has led us to this fate for it will be us, “We, the people…”
God Bless America.
©Copyright WBrown2012. All Rights Reserved.
6 Jan 2012