The people's voice of reason

We Need to Return to Our Foundation

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, ensure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

The preamble to the Constitution, something that I learned in the 5th grade, is the foundation of the Constitution. It focuses on creating a government that secures the rights and liberties of all people. Unfortunately, the direction that our nation is headed today does not seem to accurately reflect the values of our founding fathers. Over the past several years, many of our elected officials and key opinion leaders throughout the nation have been struggling with their desire to emulate the philosophy of our founding fathers when it is really very simple. The preamble sums it up for all of us.

The New Deal, The Fair Deal, and The Great Society, led by presidents Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Lyndon Johnson from the 1930s to the 1960s, in retrospect, were not as successful as they were intended to be due to tensions over racial equality and material inequality and various economic disparities.

In the 1980s, with the groundwork laid by former Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater, we saw the Reagan Revolution, produced by President Reagan and the silent majority. This revolution aimed to return us to the Constitution's original intent of limiting the government. However, tensions over preferred constitutional interpretation methods were insufficient to support Reagan's ideals, and the revolution was not as successful as many would have hoped.

Now we live in a time when our nation is split between so-called Blue States and Red States on issues such as abortion, gun control, racial equity, and the role of government. There are real concerns that the goal of a "perfect Union" will not be easily attainable as this political polarization is so intense that there appears to be little chance of bringing the nation together any time soon.

The meaning of the words of the preamble and the Constitution of the United States does not change to fit individual political agendas. Instead of focusing on being on the right or on the left, one party fighting against the other, we should be focused on doing the things the preamble challenges us to do:

1. Establishing justice. 2. Promoting domestic tranquility. 3. Providing for the common defense. 4. Promoting the general welfare. 5. Securing the blessings of liberty.

These are the things that define us as Americans. You may be a political activist, you may be a concerned individual, or you may even be an elected official, but if you do not support these five things, you are not an American because these are the basic foundational principles of the United States of America.

So, how do we return to "We the People"? We can begin by caring for one another and not identifying another individual as a "member of a party" but as a human being. If we can make that first step, we can begin to work together, focused on finding common ground.

By focusing on a common ground of promoting what is good for the whole and not each of our personal agendas, we begin to flex the muscles of this Constitutional Republic and send a message to our elected leaders and those who would aspire to improve the quality of life for all Americans. I believe that is what the American people want. We want to turn from this exhausting, continual fighting and work to promote the greater good for our state and our nation. Let a recommitment to the preamble be the first step in taking back the Constitution and bringing together that "perfect Union" our founding fathers intended it to be.

John H. Merrill served in the Alabama House of Representatives from 2010-2014 and as Alabama's 53rd Secretary of State from 2015-2023.


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