When the United States Constitution was signed on this date 221 years ago it marked a real change in the relationship between government officials and the citizenry. For most of history citizens were ruled by rulers. Now for the first time, the rulers were to be ruled.
The prime minister of England, William E. Gladstone, later remarked about the United States Constitution that, “It is the greatest piece of work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man.”
The Constitution is certainly not a perfect document for it did allow slavery to exist, and it continues to allow for slavery through the application of the income tax. The United States Constitution, though, continues to have value if only it is allowed to be implemented.
The United States Constitution is the idea of putting government power in its rightful place and recognizing that all power in life ultimately resides in the individual. The document prevents the president from arbitrarily deciding to put American military personnel in harms way. It prevents government officials from forcefully taking from individuals and giving to others both internationally, such as Georgia and all other foreign aid, and domestically, such as bailing out businesses like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and now probably Lehman Brothers. It prevents government officials from spending money on activities such as education, health care, job creation, and the myriad of other government programs that have racked up an enormous debt that strains the citizenry’s ability to pay.
The United States Constitution prevents government officials from spying on individuals unless permission is granted from a court of law. It prevents government officials from eliminating habeas corpus, establishing secret tribunals and prisons as provided for in the Patriot Act, Military Commissions Act, and FISA legislation. It prevents the president of the United States from being an emperor because the president must get approval from congress for all actions taken. The commander–in-chief position the president holds only means that he is the highest ranking military officer, who is a civilian by intent. Likewise, congress, under the United States Constitution, is prevented from just giving its authority to declare war and financially support the troops to the president.
Sadly, today, the vast majority of individuals in congress, the two major candidates for president of the United States, and many of America’s past presidents and members of congress not only have given and give lip service to the Constitution, but they do not even discuss in their campaigns the ideas found in the Constitution.
Whoever takes the oath of office January 20, 2009 as the country’s next president will have to make massive changes in the way American government conducts itself if taking that oath has any meaning at all. The president must stop making war without a declaration from congress and congress must stop allowing the president to act in such a way. The president must stop giving all foreign and domestic aid to individuals and congress must stop providing for such activity. Both the president and congress must abolish the Federal Reserve System and cut spending drastically to prevent additional debt from being incurred. The FISA legislation, Military Commissions Act, and the Patriot Act must also be abolished.
The United States Constitution cannot be construed as just a piece of paper if individual liberty is to survive. The Constitution is the idea that individuals have the right to govern themselves without any interference from anyone, especially government officials. To govern oneself takes a tremendous amount of moral fortitude and respect for others. It is the greatest challenge of mankind. It is much easier to be enslaved.
We, the posterity the founders referred to in the Preamble of the Constitution, have the responsibility of making self governance and individual liberty work. The Constitution is really only as good as we the people pay honor to it in following its precepts. Otherwise, tyranny is the order of the day which the world has been exposed to the vast majority of time throughout history.