Sept. 17 is Constitution Day. This day commemorates the day the U.S. Constitution was signed by 39 courageous Americans in 1787. The document these men created is the best blueprint for the organization of society yet devised. This document has allowed the people in the United States to prosper beyond the wildest dreams of every preceding generation. The government these men created was no accident. It was the result of extensive examination of all preceding governments, the problems inherent in dictatorial regimes and, perhaps most important, the realization that freedom is a gift endowed by the Creator to which every human is entitled.
Not all of the men gathered in Philadelphia accepted the notion that black people were entitled to freedom. In fact, some of the men considered black people to be property. This difference of opinion almost destroyed the new government before it was created. Honest men sincerely seeking a better government found a compromise that satisfied neither side, but was an acceptable way to postpone the resolution until another day.
The most distinguishing characteristic of the new government was its limitation of power. Article I, Section 8 sets forth the specific powers the federal government may exercise. The 10th Amendment further defines this limitation by reserving all powers not delegated to the federal government “… to the states respectively or to the people.”
The government created by the Constitution is a republic, not a democracy. The Constitution requires that the federal government guarantee that every state operate as a republic. Moreover, the government was divided into three co-equal branches: legislative, judicial and executive.
The genius of the Constitution is the built-in tension that must exist between the members of Congress, the two houses of Congress, between the Congress and the Executive, and between the Judiciary and both the Congress and the Executive. This design requires that each participant and each branch continuously fight to keep others, and the other branches of government, from usurping their power.
The system worked reasonably well until the Franklin Roosevelt administration. Much of Roosevelt’s New Deal exercised powers not enumerated in Article I, Section 8. When the Supreme Court began to nullify elements of his New Deal, Roosevelt tried unsuccessfully to expand the Supreme Court in order to appoint more judges who would uphold his expansion of powers.
To some extent, every president since Roosevelt has tried to expand presidential powers, and every Congress has turned a blind eye to the limitations of power imposed by Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. Consequently, the government now in power in Washington has abandoned any care or concern about the constitutional limitations of power, and some are even trying to revamp the Supreme Court to insure that it poses no threat to the power-grabbing aspiration of the new crowd in Washington.
Much has been said about the similarity of circumstances between the election of Roosevelt and the ascension of Obama. Perhaps the greatest similarity is that neither man recognized the constitutional limitations imposed by Article I, Section 8, and the 10th Amendment.
Liberals have long since developed academic arguments to justify their departure from the clear language and intent of the Constitution. Obama is well-versed in these arguments. Argue as they will, they cannot change the clear meaning of the Constitution; they can, however, ignore it.
The Constitution is not even a factor in Obama’s effort to nationalize health care. Though his press people use terms such as “public option” and “insurance reform,” they are simply euphemisms for socialized medicine. The delivery of health care is not a federal power authorized by the U.S. Constitution.
The Constitution is not a factor in Obama’s “cap-and-trade” agenda. His plan is to impose tax on the use of energy through which government can amass vast sums of money while actually controlling the use of energy. Controlling the use of energy is not a federal power authorized by the U.S. Constitution.
The Constitution does, however, require that major appointments made by the president be reviewed and approved by the Senate. The Constitution has not been a factor in Obama’s unprecedented appointment of nearly three-dozen “czars,” or “special advisers,” who are not reviewed and approved by the Senate and who are accountable only to the president.
The Constitution has fallen out of favor with the government now in Washington, and sadly, far too few people even know what the Constitution allows or prohibits. Next week, Constitution Week, is a perfect time for everyone to re-read the Constitution. In fact, Constitution lovers should see to it that their friends and neighbors get a copy.
Every school and community organization should show the movie “A More Perfect Union,” endorsed by the Bicentennial Commission, to see and appreciate anew how our Constitution was created. This two-hour dramatization should be seen by every American.
Never before has our Constitution been under such a serious attack. It can be saved only by dedicated Americans who value freedom more than government handouts and free markets more than a government-managed society. The only way to save our Constitution is to unseat the usurpers in Washington and replace them with people who know that less government is the best government.