Constitution Day: Long live the U.S. Constitution

The U.S. Constitution permitted more of the world’s peoples to access substantial freedoms than ever before in the history of humankind. Photo: Bill of Rights - Public Domain

SAN JOSE,  September  17, 2013 – Today, considering the increased age of the Constitution of the United States, many people ask whether the Constitution is still relevant. The document was written in 1787, long before the invention of the automobile, the Internet, or the Smart phone, – items which seem far more relevant to most Americans today.

The question of whether this framework of laws has that much realistic value to the general public in America is a timely question in many ways.       

Unfortunately, many of those living in America today have not even taken the time to read the U.S. Constitution in its entirety, and many are often unsure of what it says or what it doesn’t say. What it is even more ironic is that many of our elected officials act as if they have not read, or do not comprehend, or possibly do not care what is contained within the nation’s bedrock law.

This is evidenced today in the Executive branch of the U.S. government, it is apparent through the actions of some in the Legislative branch, and in the decisions of some who are appointed to the Judicial branch of government. Yet, the Constitution endures. To many, it is hard to believe.

Good people are confused regarding the value of the Constitution as it becomes increasingly prodded and attacked from within the government for possible “weaknesses.” At this time, some Americans seem to have lost connection to the values of the nation’s founding. As clever politicians tap into the concerns and fears of the people for their personal or partisan gain, the common people can lose a sense of meaning in America’s fundamental values.

Part of that could be attributed to ignorance of what the Constitution says or what it doesn’t say. Part of such confusion could be attributed to misinterpretations or disinformation from elected officials who view the law of the land through political lenses that may diminish, distort, or actually ignore what the Constitution does say.            

Despite a national history littered with serious abuses of the Constitution, attacks have come upon the Constitution from officials in all three branches of the U.S. government in a more comprehensive or coordinated manner in more recent years. In all probability, the Constitution has not been more strained and put under more internal political duress since the days preceding and following the American Civil War.

Nevertheless, the seemingly greater threat to the U.S. Constitution is not from within the hallowed halls of the American people’s government, it is from the growing threat of political discontent and disorder around the planet.       

The nation just observed Patriot’s Day, a remembrance of those who sacrificed their lives for the sake of others during the horrific tragedies of September 11, 2001. Since that day, observing the holiday known as Citizenship Day or Constitution Day has taken on a whole new level of meaning to Americans. In many Americans, there has grown a deep and sincere perception of how precious the Constitution is within such a turbulent world. Yet, many have difficulty making a connection to the outrageous attacks upon U.S. soil and the value of the U.S. Constitution.

Putting those sinister attacks upon the World Trade Center and the Pentagon into a clear perspective, President George W. Bush stated: “Freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless coward, and freedom will be defended.” Following the attacks, Osama bin Laden expressed the opposite perspective that the terrorists were in-fact the freedom fighters in the war against the infidel. Obviously, the two views are at odds with each other.  Because of such polarization, many throughout the world find themselves sympathetic to one view or another, or claim some middle intellectual terrain which may be a variant or diluted version of either extreme.

Such safe intellectual havens may provide a comfortable couch for individuals from which to view such harsh realities of a post 9/11 world; i.e. global terrorism vs. “The War on Terror. ” Certainly, Americans enjoy relative comfort compared to the rest of the people of the world, not only material comfort, but mental calm as well. Yet while many Americans enjoy the fruits of living in a nation of freedom, they often exhibit a lack of awareness of  the foundation, development, and liberating facets of living in the land of the Free. This becomes a serious problem when Freedom itself is attacked.

In a post 9/11 world, America and the entire Free World are continually being challenged by militant Muslim extremists committed to jihad against humanity. America is required to sacrifice again to protect and preserve the genuine freedoms the Founders held to be self-evident and true. Americans today would be well-served to apply the Founder’s standards to the contemporary struggle and measure the merits of each diverse set of ideals aimed at providing a government that would ensure freedom for all of the people.

An intelligent and objective appraisal of early American history demonstrates that an essential purpose of the U.S. Constitution was to ensure that the foundation of freedom established during the American Revolution could endure in a world where such freedom did not substantially exist. The perceived need for a more perfect government, the strong argumentative ordeals of drafting genuine organizational concepts into the document, the sincere process of ratification, and the eventual implementation of the U.S. Constitution, crafted “ a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” It was an effort to ensure the survival of freedom in a hostile world.

A key component of the Constitution, which was necessary to be added to the primary document for it to be ratified, is the concept of amending the original framework. The first ten amendments, more commonly known as the Bill of Rights, ensured the fundamental freedoms of the American people. The idea of amendments that can alter the bedrock legal foundation of the nation is crucial to the survival of a free people and a free society.   

In essence, as a result of the Bill of Rights and the subsequent amendments, a far greater  foundation for the development and advancement of freedom in the world was permitted. In reality, it is because of the government established by the U.S. Constitution that a greater number of the world’s peoples have had access to more substantial individual freedoms than ever before within the history of humankind. When summed up objectively, minus all partisan political spin, and despite idealistic intellectual criticism, the United States still shows up as a nation that places ultimate value upon freedom and liberty, and the Constitution is the cornerstone for that to exist in a very troubled and turbulent world.

Long live the U.S. Constitution!


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Dennis Jamison
Dennis Jamison
Dennis Jamison reinvented his life after working for a multi-billion dollar division of Johnson & Johnson for several years. Now semi-retired, he is an adjunct faculty member  at West Valley College in California.  He also currently writes a column on history and one on American freedom for the Communities at the Washington Times.

 

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