Indifference Has Undermined The Constitution
January 1, 2018 | View PDF
In teaching History in our Christian School, it was my joy to be able to teach the Constitution in some depth to seniors. One of the problems that was easily observed was the apparent indifference concerning the
Constitution and the Rule of Law in the public square.
I discussed this with my learned friend in Washington, D.C., Louis Wilson Ingram, who was not only a brilliant attorney, but also had worked in the highest branches of the federal government his entire
career. This was in the years of 2005 and 2006, and our conversation continued until his death a few years ago.
Ingram’s assessment of the problem, a decade ago, is quoted below.
"Our American Constitution is not entirely dead. The part that protects our individual Rights, such as ex post facto laws, habeas corpus, gun ownership, due process, and religious practices, is alive and well. The part that
restricts government power, however, is as dead as a doornail.
It is not too much to say that the Constitution has become a
basket case, because it is honored more often in the breach, than the observance, by those who are indifferent to its original intent. But to understand how that can be, one must understand the Constitution itself. That is not an intimidating necessity requiring that one become an expert Constitutionalist, but rather that one develop a working knowledge of the document.
A “working knowledge" depends on understanding the primary
motive which drove the Framers to adopt its particular architecture. The architecture is a series of "checks and balances" intended to maintain the limitation of powers achieved through "enumeration of powers.” That limitation is the most important aspect of the Constitution.
That limitation of powers was the Framers response to their principal motivating concern. And what was that concern?
FEAR... Fear of Government Power
Fear! If you do not fear government power right now, then you cannot appreciate the importance of the gift that the Framers left for you.
Politics is a zero sum game that pits individual Freedom against
government Power; the more of one, the less of the other.
It is impossible for government to guarantee individual Freedom, because each individual Freedom is directly the result of government willingly foregoing the exercise of some power. Government does not willingly forego any power.
It is easier to visualize this from the opposite perspective. Government does not rule over birds and bees, but over people. And to rule over people, government must be able to control the decisions which comprise their lives. Clearly, as government attempts to dominate more and more decisions, people become less and less free.
Very few people fail to understand the zero sum game. That, however, does not give them an automatic comprehension of other political
For example, why do elected representatives in a democratic republic come to "need" absolute power over their constituents? After all, they were, until their election, just one of those very people.
So it may have seemed. So it may have been. But something happens on the way to the Forum in the lives of almost every public servant. If not on the way, most certainly on their arrival or shortly thereafter.
When one steps onto the floor of the House or the Senate, it is
difficult not to feel a swelling in the chest. It affects even Staff. It
affected ME. But more so the elected ones. Suddenly the elected is
different from the electors. He is now "The Honorable Elected" and thus differentiated from the hoypoloy.
The House membership is an astonishingly small percentage of the voting population, but when they are together in Washington, operating in their highly protected world, and sharing the power to utterly dominate the lives of the larger group who elected them, the headiness is too much to resist.
There is also the fact, that they are surrounded by fawning staff and lobbyists in an atmosphere of almost royal trappings. The Capitol building is truly awe inspiring, and this awe quickly rubs off on the
practitioners of federal power.
It is understandable that some representatives soon come to feel that they are our masters rather than our servants. Why? Look at their
There is a dominating concern. All the power that they have is
useless, if they don't use it. And so, adopting legislation becomes a
necessity of their very existence.
But all legislation, in one way or another, diminishes our freedom. Every government decision is one less that can be made by “We the
People” or just by people. There is no such thing as benign legislation."
Proverbs 29: 2
"When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn."
Next month, I would like to write about the Architecture of the
Constitution and how to Preserve it. Today, it is not just INDIFFERENCE to the Constitution that is our problem in America, but it is our lack of understanding and concept of the Rule of Law.
Please look forward to next month’s article in which I will go into more depth.