A close reading of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution makes it clear the founding fathers believed in two core principles. They believed that freedom is the natural state of all mankind, who are “endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights.”
And, they believed governments exist solely for the protection of those rights.
“…That to secure these rights, governments are instituted
Among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of
the governed.”…Declaration of Independence
The preamble to the Constitution lays out concisely and clearly the government’s responsibilities in securing these rights. A total of six are listed:
1. Form a more perfect union.
2. Establish justice.
3. Insure domestic tranquility.
4. Provide for the common defense.
5. Promote the general welfare.
6. Secure the blessing of liberty for us and out Posterity.
These six functions of government provide the framework for our Constitution.
Studying the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution one can not help being awed by their brilliance and wondering whether they are the product of human genius or divine inspiration.
The body of the constitution establishes the three branches of government, defines their scope and power and provides the blueprint for their functioning. It establishes the relationship between the states, and procedures for ratifying and amending the Constitution.
History and personal experience had taught the populace of that time about the proclivity of those in power to abuse that power. They did not trust a government so far removed from the influence of their local communities. The political leaders of the various states feared the growth of a central government that would usurp the authority of individual states. For these and other reasons several states refused to ratify the Constitution until they had assurance a “Bill of Rights” would be added. The first ten amendments make up that Bill of Rights and was ratified in 1791.
Because of the restrictions placed on the power of government by the Constitution, it has been opposed by some from the very beginning, even more so during the past fifty years.
The Bill of Rights has been ignored by politicians and altered by rouge courts for generations. Its ability to protect the public from the tyranny of government has been drastically eroded in the process. The rationalization most often used has been a fairly new concept of the Constitution as a “living document.” This concept can not stand up to the light of reason but is tacitly accepted by the general public when they vote candidates into office who support it.
The Constitution is basically a contract between the government and the people. A contract cannot be altered by either party without the expressed consent of all parties involved, otherwise it has no meaning. In protecting the intent of the Constitution, change is provided for through the process of amendments. Congress can propose a change in the constitution by passing an amendment. The amendment may or may not be accepted by the people through the process of ratification. If ratified it becomes a part of the Constitution. If not ratified it dies, having no effect at all on the Constitution.
Of the ten amendments in the Bill of Rights, most have been altered over the years without the processes of amendment and ratification to the point where they have become impotent in carrying out the intent of the founding fathers.
The first amendment guaranteeing freedom of speech, press and religion has been decimated by “political correctness”, “the fairness doctrine”, “campaign finance reform” and other similar devices.
The “gun grabbers” have weakened the second amendment through a clever manipulation of the phrase “well regulated militia” in the amendment rendering the general public defenseless against armed criminals and others who would harm them.
The fourth and fifth amendments protecting liberty and property have been altered by the application of the “Rico Act” to cases not intended under the original law, the retrying of defendants found not guilty in a criminal trial for “violation of civil rights”, and by court decisions that increasing the tax base or promoting neighborhood beautification constitute “public use”.
The tenth amendment has all but been abolished by the power of taxation and federal grants given to or withheld from state and local governments.
The Constitution is the only thing standing between the public at large and government tyranny. This fact should be foremost in our minds every time we go into a voting booth.
Reprinted from Illinois Conservative