Sunday, September 23, 2012

Having a sound Constitution

The social problems of this country are numerous, but are vastly outnumbered by the failed attempts to solve them. The continued effort to undermine and erode the protections offered to the individual by the Constitution is disheartening. Over two hundred years ago, the first ten were inscribed, contained within the Bill of Rights. Since then, there have been seventeen amendments made, all in accordance with the methods established. No the document was not perfect at ratification, for it failed to grant the same protections to all parties. However, as the standards of our society grew, its deficiencies were corrected.

Foremost, it must be stated that the Constitution does not grant any rights to the individual. Rather, it protects rights that are held by nature of existing. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; simply put. The twenty six amendments provide strict direction to the government of the protected rights of the individual (twenty-six vice twenty-seven, accounting for the one repealed). These well argued words do not instruct you on what you are allowed to do, but provide limits upon the actions of the government.

The Constitution is more than an enumerated list of individual rights to protect us from a tyrannical government. It serves to define the style of government that the people could trust; a representative republic, limited by the rule of law. Going further, the powers of that government were divided into three separate branches, self governed by a series of checks and balances, so that no one branch could threaten the freedoms of the populace unhindered. The powers given to the Federal government were limited and few, though interpretation and ideals of a ‘living document’ have given rise to an unmitigated expansion with the excuse of serving the public good. As stated, and now further explained, our Federal government was established as a Republic, limited by the rule of law, and not a democracy to suffer the whims of the majority.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, no prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the states respectively or to the people. In short, any element, action, or process of the United States government that does not conform to the limitations of the Constitution exists in violation of it. There are only two viable responses to such a transgression; either an amendment is made to the Constitution in accordance with Article V, as it has been done seventeen times, or the offender must be abolished. Letting it continue is an affront to the integrity of this country and a disregard for the trust of every Citizen. Misconstruing the words of the Constitution, as those who hold the belief of a ‘living document’ suggest, threatens the Constitution with invalidation. If the written words can be reinterpreted at will, there is no strength in the words and all of them are forfeit.

Though the idea of the Constitution being a ‘living document’ must be rejected, that does not imply that it is dead either. It was not a perfect set of standards as initially ratified, as proven by the seventeen amendments made since. Thus, the founders included a process for amending it, because the realized that neither they nor the society they were worming were without fault. The grand ideal of every man being created equal and entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness were not realized at the ratification of the Constitution. The hypocrisy that slave owning white men made such claims was well noted even then. Such a contradiction would last nearly ninety years, a gradual socio-economic change, and a Civil War, until slavery would end in the United States. Over six grueling years, the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth amendments were drafted and ratified providing for equal protection by and from the law without discrimination for maters of race or color. Sadly it would take another century of hatred until the full weight of social change would bear down on segregationist hatred.

Among the legislative pillars that were used to limit the newly free Americans to an inferior status, those in power endeavored to keep them disarmed. They were not original in this attempt, nor were they the last, because it was demonstrated before, and since, that tyrants will act to disarm their subjects. The purpose being that it is far easier to dominate people who are incapable of effectively fighting back. Britain sought to disarm the American Patriots in order to forestall insurrection, and Nazi Germany endeavored to disarm Jews before killing over six million of them. The founders, understanding this lesson of history, sought to protect the individual’s right to self defense and place it beyond reproach. To that end, they well enshrined that liberty by stating, unerringly, “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Despite those words, politicians and special interest groups have worked doggedly to impose ‘reasonable restrictions’ on an individual’s right to self defense, or in some case subject it complete revocation. Opponents to an armed populace point to the professional police as a reason that personal arms are unneeded with one hand, while judicially releasing those officers of any obligation to protect us with the other. The actions of criminals and degenerates are used as excuses to legislatively disarm the law abiding. The very belief that the law breakers will yield their firearms because owning one has been made illegal is laughable. Yet the politicians continue, calling for the public to be disarmed while they stand surrounded by armed guards. If there is one thing that both criminals and tyrannical governments fear, it is an armed populace capable of resisting their dominance.

The right of self defense, to safe guard one’s own life is indeed sacred. It is matched by the ability to be free within one’s mind. Each individual’s beliefs and concerns are theirs fully, and they are endowed with the freedom to share them with their fellow man. Share, that is, up until they impede on the rights of another. The reciprocal, that others are free to share their ideals, is also true. Some cannot be arrested or detained simply because their exercise of free speech offends another party. Such an attempt to squelch anyone’s rights in this manner should suffer immediate public outrage. For no matter how disagreeable that exercise of free speech is, if the government or mob can censor the right of one person, why not another’s? That edge, where the government turns from a guardian of everyone’s freedoms to subjective thought police serving to protect the feelings of the offended is infinitely fine, and dastardly destructive when it is turned upon those who oppose governmental tyranny. It is the right of every free American to voice their beliefs, and their responsibility to speak against the trespasses of government.

While the voice of one man true in his convictions (or woman true in hers) is impressive, the voice of a country well informed cannot be ignored. To that end, the founding fathers sought to protect the freedom of press. Through knowledge, an individual can seek the certainty of action. A forthright press, that holds the political class on all fronts, can ensure an honest reporting of government action. The politicians, held accountable for his actions, must remain true to the interests of his constituents, or suffer removal by the same. Through such interaction, the well being of the republic, and freedom of the individual, will blossom and grow. However, the process is torn asunder when there is collusion between the government and the press. When the press spreads the lies of the government, in an effort to confuse and control the governed, the promise of liberty withers on the vine. With such a risk, every citizen must guard against allowing their vigilance to lax. Suffer no lie to be repeated unchallenged, and let no misguidance be followed. Speak true against those who would violate the public trust, so their utterances may be discarded as pointless refuse.

When considered completely, the constitution is not all encompassing. It acknowledges the existence of rights retained by the people not listed within its pages, and states that they remain strong. Further, the Constitution is not the metaphoric sword and shield to be hung above the mantle, with memories of battles won long ago. Understand, the barbarians are ever on the horizon, threatening to sweep down upon the unprepared, burn your home, and scatter your flock. Maintain the sword honed sharp and free of rust. Keep the grasp of the shield strong, the boards stout. Read and learn the strength of the words that shelter the freedoms you have by nature of breathing. Hold a vigilant watch for the horde, while keeping a wary eye for wolves among the sheep.

Disclaimer: While I will not claim to be a Constitutional Scholar, I have read it often, and given my best effort to understand the words and the ideals it portrays. I have read the writings of our founding fathers to great extend to better understand the intentions they had for the newly formed United States of America. If the above reads like nothing more than a motivated history lesson, it is because I strongly believe the truth of it has been befuddled as of late. The masses that are apparently ignorant of how our country was established, standing unaware of the social contract they implicitly accept by claiming to be American Citizens, is baffling. There should be public outrage at the actions of our government, rather than mute acceptance. Instead, we have grown to the point where many will happily accept the government’s redistribution of another’s labors, and seek only to improve their share. It has become common place to accept the censor of another’s rights, just because some don’t agree with their position. In truth, even the rights of the Criminal and bigot must be protected, for if theirs can be limited than the rights of all are forfeit.
Further, if I did not discuss your favored right, it was not an intended slight. I confined the main body of this to less than fifteen hundred words, and had trouble keeping it that small. I do not disparage the nineteenth, and its role in offering equal legal protection to the sexes, the fourth, or the fifth. The sixteenth, I am going to treat separately, and, admittedly, you can expect several revisits of the second.

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