Vail Valley Voices: Constitution obsolete? Nonsense
May 13, 2012
We often hear complaints of the divisive language used in our political discourse. Many of those complaining also refer to the U.S. Constitution as an “obsolete document written by a bunch of old, dead white guys.”
Aside from being itself divisive language that most Americans should find offensive, it is also illustrates the disinformation being taught in government schools, a condition truly in need of being amended.
For all those who believe the Constitution is obsolete, I recommend that you find a copy of the document and read it, though many — including the U.S. Senate, current administration and half the judiciary — clearly need help in understanding it.
Our Constitution is a contract (or compact) between and among all the citizens of this country that protects us all from each other and from the government by guaranteeing each citizen’s rights to life, liberty and property are secure, and ensures we are each free to pursue our own endeavors unobstructed as we see fit.
Our Constitution also protects us all from the tyranny of the majority. Contrary to what many seem to believe, we are not a democracy! Our form of government is a federal constitutional republic. We are governed by rule of law, not mob rule. This is made possible only by our Constitution that so many have been taught to regard with misguided disdain.
Some complain that the Constitution’s amendment mechanism is too slow, that requiring super-majorities in all 50 states for passage of an amendment is just too difficult. This is a false premise.
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Amending the Constitution is difficult but not impossible, as evidenced by the 17 amendments passed since the ratification of the first 10 amendments in the Bill of Rights in 1789.
Amendment ratification requires approval by three-fourths of the state legislatures, not all 50. To date, 27 amendments have been approved, six have been disapproved, and thousands have been discussed.
Amendments 16 through 27 were passed after Arizona became the 48th state in 1912. Since then, 48 states succeeded in amending the Constitution 12 times, and even then they still managed to commit at least one egregious error in 1919 with the passage of the 18th Amendment (Prohibition). Why should anyone want to make the process easier to err?
Our Constitution is difficult to amend by design. It absolutely should be difficult to alter the law of the land that affects the lives and livelihoods of every U.S. citizen! The intent and motivations of those seeking to circumvent these protections are highly suspect, as is their knowledge of history, as the current administration proves daily.
In 1824 Jefferson observed, “We have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious.”
Nearly two centuries ago, Jefferson complained that of all the burdensome government agencies, departments and programs already spawned in the 35 years since the country’s founding, a time when there were just 24 states in the union and only two additional amendments had been passed.
In explaining the role of government, Jefferson said: “The policy of the American government is to leave their citizens free, neither restraining nor aiding them in their pursuits.”
In explaining the role of the Constitution, Jefferson said: “In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”
George Washington famously wrote, “Government is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”
Pretty impressive stuff for a bunch of “old, dead white guys.”
Buddy Shipley is an Edwards resident.