Opinion: Why Americans should cherish the Constitution

By Kay Coles James | The Daily Signal

Put bluntly, understanding the basics of the Constitution and ensuring that our government adheres to it is in our own best interest. The Constitution — the document that governs our government — protects our very way of life and ensures the freedoms we enjoy. Without it, the government has the capability of running roughshod over our rights.

Despite the fact that the Constitution and its accompanying Bill of Rights protect our most basic freedoms, these documents and the founding principles they embody are under increasing attack.

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The Framers created these limitations in the Constitution so that the government could never become so pervasive in our lives that it threatened the very freedoms it was instituted to protect.

Many on our college campuses, in the media, and in politics have stepped up their efforts to try to dismiss our founding and to rewrite our history, attempting to change the image of America from the most successful experiment in self-government and representative democracy in the history of the world to an evil, self-serving nation that’s the cause of the world’s major problems.

Of course, we know that our system of government is not perfect. Despite our high-minded founding ideals, we allowed slavery, discrimination, and the internment of law-abiding citizens, and we withheld the right to vote from women and minorities.

We haven’t always lived up to our principles, but our Founders created a framework that allows society to continue to grow into the principles we profess and recognize the errors of our ways and correct them.

The Constitution was created as a contract between the American people and their government to protect America’s founding principles.

We wanted to be citizens, electing our leaders—not subjects of a king and his lords. We wanted our leaders to be bound by certain rules.

We wanted to be free to practice the religion of our choice and to speak freely without government restraint. We also wanted the federal government to be limited in its authority, serving mostly to protect citizens’ life, liberty, and property without unduly restricting their freedom.

As a conservative, I’ve often been asked, if you want to follow the Constitution and limit the federal government’s ability to solve society’s problems, where do we turn for solutions?

I respond: To the places we used to turn before the federal government got so large and overly involved in our everyday lives: to our families; our churches; and our communities. These institutions are the very building blocks of our society. These are the places where our greatest needs can be most properly addressed. If something needs more collective action, that’s often where state and local governments can come in, as government functions best when it’s closest and most accountable to the people.

One of our most basic founding principles is that we would be a self-governing nation—both at the national level and at the individual level. Self-governing at the national level means that the power of the government comes entirely from the people.

Self-governing on an individual level means that we the people are trusted to make decisions for our own lives. We don’t need a central planning authority to ensure that we are fed and clothed or that decides where we work. It means that we are free in many aspects of our lives to do what we wish. It means we have tremendous liberties not recognized anywhere else on earth.

Our individual self-governance is ensured by the Constitution, which prescribes certain enumerated powers of the federal government—and it limits it to those powers.

The Framers created these limitations so that the government could never become so pervasive in our lives that it threatened the very freedoms it was instituted to protect.

The Constitution also divides power among the branches of government, as well as between the federal government and state governments, as additional assurances against tyranny. When we ignore the Constitution, we see that government overreach and the eroding of our own liberty are the result.

Despite the imperfections of our system, America remains the most successful experiment in representative democracy in human history. This nation has survived foreign invasions and terrorist attacks, a civil war and a cold war, the Great Depression and the Great Recession, and rancorous politics. America has always emerged triumphant because of a consistent and timeless set of principles embodied in this document we call the Constitution.

Let us do all we can to preserve and protect our Constitution so that it can continue to protect us.

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8 thoughts on “Opinion: Why Americans should cherish the Constitution

  1. There are a number of FREE courses about the Constitution (& other government functions) online at Hillsdale.edu. They make a clear explanation of the framer’s understanding of the agreed upon document and the subsequent violation of the principles involved. Treat yourself to a better understanding.

    • Franklin also said of this Republic, in his speech to the Constitutional Convention in 1787,

      “In these sentiments, Sir, I agree to this Constitution with all its faults, if they are such; because…there is no form of Government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered, and believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in Despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other.”

      We are at that cross road.

  2. Name one other piece of documentation or legislation that has endured the test of time,
    our founding fathers had such a vision for our country !!

    It’s pretty sad that all elected officials ” Pledge ” to obey & uphold the constitution, but they
    try to circumvent or just plain ignore parts that don’t fit their agenda like they think they have
    better vision than our founding fathers………….fools.

    It should be mandatory reading for all high schoolers and especially ” All ” Legislators as most
    don’t have a clue, just talking points.

    Thank God for our Military, as they uphold the constitution day in & day out and some give
    all for it…………..Cherish it.

  3. I swore an oath to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, for 25 years. I certainly hope that two-bit English professor in Burlington doesn’t actually believe I’m going to blindly obey his illegal edict.

  4. Suggestion – AOC and her ilk would be well served if they took a day off and actually READ the Constitution. Sad to say, that will never happen. Instead of all the soap boxing, they should look around themselves and count their many blessings and STOP complaining.

  5. Arguably, the American Republic system of government is as damned near ‘perfect’ as any governance can be.

    “It therefore astonishes me, Sir, to find this system approaching so near to perfection as it does;…” Benjamin Franklin speech to the Constitutional Convention.

    The proof is in the pudding. And this pudding, made from scratch, has been getting better and better over time.

    But what’s missing isn’t the pudding itself, but the original development of its recipe. Yes, this enlightenment began millennia ago with Aristotle debating Plato over private property. But more to the point is the understanding of the dichotomies posited between America’s first two colonies, Jamestown (1608) and Plymouth (1620). Jamestown was a ‘slave state’. Plymouth was not.

    Then there is the epiphany realized by Ben Franklin at the Treaty of Lancaster in 1744, when Canassatego (c. 1684–1750), leader of the Onondaga nation who became a prominent diplomat and spokesman of the Iroquois Confederacy, explained to Franklin what is, in effect, the original concept of State’s Rights.

    Only then, after the Federalist Papers, Tom Paine’s ‘Common Sense’, and Adam Smith’s ‘Wealth of Nations’ (published in 1776), was the recipe ratified in 1787, with the Bill of Rights in 1791.

    Understanding how the recipe developed over time, and how it continues to improve, only enhances our dining pleasures. Hopefully, parents and educators will appreciate and pass down this recipe for time immemorial.

    • Certainly can’t say much more, great. I have the 85 Federal Papers and view them often.There’s a lot there to comprehend. Too bad A. Hamilton had to have a duel. What more would have been divulged?

      The Bill of Rights should be required in any one of the 8-12 grades. Perhaps the Liberal teachers would be questioned about their liberal instruction pollution and the youngsters would have a more positive direction and outlook. Always question authority.

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