Americans take great pride in our nation’s founding documents. At the time of its publication, the Declaration of Independence was an astounding rebuke of tyrannical rule that took the spirit of the Magna Carta and, with the subsequent Constitution, “formed a more perfect union.” Not perfect, but more perfect.
That Constitution is one of mankind’s most important documents. It created a government and a governmental process unlike any ever seen and, in doing so, empowered the citizens as the masters of their national fate.
In the 239 years since its adoption, the Constitution, much like the Bible, has been massaged, interpreted, misinterpreted, ignored, blasphemed, misquoted, misrepresented and amended. And, as it is with both, so much analysis and opinion has been applied to their principles that the core values they intended to nurture have been lost.
In the front end of the 21st Century, America is struggling with bad actors who either reject those principles or are ignorant in their understanding of them. Be it political nuance, philosophical difference, religious fundamentalism or simple selfishness, the ultimate result of the bastardization of our Constitution could well lead the destruction of the Republic itself.
This fear goes beyond pornographers and hate speech practitioners hiding behind the First Amendment. There’s more to this than the usual debates about the Second Amendment in which gun-rights advocates often find themselves on the uncomfortable side of public outcry whenever there is a tragic crime involving firearms.
This isn’t even about the Fourth or Fourteenth Amendments and the respective issues of privacy and immigration.
What may be the poison in the Constitution of the United States is the very thing that makes it so important; so powerful. The danger is in the benevolence it represents.
We know, of course, that the Constitution was written in a time far different from ours today. Every aspect of human interaction, commerce, social convention and government has changed and changed in ways not even the visionary Founding Fathers could anticipate.
Assault weapons as personal firearms?
Cell phone privacy?
Same sex marriage?
Fecal matter on religious objects as art?
Religious demands and protections are insisted upon that are beyond civil acceptance.
Slavery was erased from the original construct, thankfully.
How do we continue the vision of the Founders when so many are doing so much to undermine it and are using the Constitution to further their causes rather than “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”? And when some of those are in the government, either elected or appointed, the dangers become more real and the solutions less likely. How do we protect the nation from itself when the very standard for its existence is being so flagrantly compromised?
There have been minor calls for a Constitutional re-write to reflect today’s world and to counter that of “a bunch of rich white men,” but the dangers in doing so are too many and too great to be considered. I don’t believe the United States could survive with a Constitution written by the “leaders” of today. A new document could not be written from the heart as was the original or borne of the struggles that found a nation.
Who could be trusted to construct a new standard “to form a more perfect union?“
Without judicial control to adhere to the spirit of the Constitution – a spirit thoroughly documented – and without legislative will to use the Constitution as a guide and not a foil, and without executive commitment to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States,” that great instrument of liberty will be erased from our national conscience.
The Constitution as written is a masterpiece at protecting the citizens from government, but, in the end, it may not be able to protect itself.