A panel of Supreme Court Justices will meet tomorrow to consider one of many lawsuits attempting to force Barack Obama to show that he meets the Constitution qualification for President; “No Person except a natural born Citizen,…shall be eligible to the Office of President.” (Article II, Section 1)
I have no opinion as to the validity of the claim that Obama was actually born in Kenya and is not a “natural born citizen” as required by the Constitution. I have seen no convincing evidence either way. What bothers me is Obama’s “I don’t need no stinking Constitution” attitude. The question could be put to rest immediately by simply producing a valid birth certificate. The fact that he steadfastly refuses to do so shows a contempt for the Constitution unworthy of a President.
Further evidence of this attitude toward the Constitution is shown by his selection of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. Article I, Section 6 of the Constitution states “ No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been increased during such time.”
Presidents routinely sidestep this requirement by finding a variety of loopholes. One technique is simply to decrease the salary to what it was at the time the Senator or Representative first took office. In the Case of Hillary, they will probably point to the fact that the increase in salary the Secretary of State was not instituted by Congress, but rather as an adjustment by the Executive Branch to compensate for increases in the cost of living.
Both of these examples may seem to be trivial matters, but they do demonstrate a fundamental fact about attitudes regarding the Constitution. The U.S. Constitution is a sacred document to most Americans, and a nuisance to most politicians. Therein lies our dilemma—and the answer to revitalizing the Republican Party.
Most American citizens instinctively know the Constitution is important in protecting our liberties, however, due to deficiencies in our education system few have more than a rudimentary knowledge of its contents. If Republicans were suddenly to start defending the Constitution instead of joining their Democratic colleagues in looking for loopholes, they would find an overwhelming support from the American people.
The reluctance to defend the Constitution is not limited to just Democrats and Moderate Republicans. Conservative politicians may complain when those in power violate the Constitution in ways they do not approve, however, complaining is not defending. We protest that conservative leaders are not effective in articulating the conservative message. The reason they are not is that they fail to link the conservative message with the Constitution.
Most people get their perception of government from politicians, either in campaigns, or when they appear in interviews on TV. With the unceasing message from both sides of the aisle, that the purpose of government is to solve all our problems, is it any wonder that citizens have a distorted view that does not include the principles in our founding documents.
A conservative message of limited government and low taxes is meaningless to the average American unless they understand why it is important to them personally. The best way to get this message across is by explaining how these principles are connected to our founding documents and two hundred years of history. The challenge of education today is not technology but civics. The one group with the best opportunity to educate the public regarding the Constitution is the politicians, and it is up to us to demand that they do.