Friday, September 17, 2010

Happy U.S. Constitution Day!

My gchat status today says, HAPPY CONSTITUTION DAY! “To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race.” --Calvin Coolidge

and then has this video, which my friend Brandon (who works at Heritage) made:

I went to a small, conservative liberal arts college for four years, where my love of the Constitution and other Founding documents of this country only grew under my study and understanding of them. (I was also an American Studies major, so my study of them was frequent and dense.)

You can imagine, therefore, my surprise, when a friend of mine asked me, "Is the Constitution that great?"

After firmly telling him, "Yes, it is!", I reflected on the very question and its source. He went to a large public university very different than my alma mater. We've had some interesting talks about American politics, the Founders, the country's purpose and I have come to the conclusion that his and most people's own interpretations of the Founding and the Constitution, as is proved in economics and politics, is clearly for their own self-interest.

Now, there is nothing permanent in self-interest. There is nothing noble or beautiful or worthwhile in self-interest. Interest, for example, in a secular culture.

They (unclear antecedent referring mostly to legions of revisionist historians and citizens) say that because Thomas Jefferson was a deist- and because he made one comment in a letter about there being a separation of church and state- this is reason to secularize the culture and make the separation American Dogma. They ignore the majority of very religious men who helped found this country- who put in a clause allowing men of all religions to freely practice, but not to replace or override Christianity. They only use the Constitution as a leverage, and not as a guide. The President, for example, recently mentioned the Constitution and said he was endorsing it.

Endorsing it? Honey, this ain't no election season. The Constitution is here to stay.

There are fine lines at risk in today's political sphere. Social issues are being pushed out the door in favor of lower taxes and reducing spending. Now, I am all for that. States' rights are imperative for the health of the country. But I do not think anyone is neutral on the social issues. It is not neutral to be for same-sex marriage. It is not neutral to support abortion. That is taking a stand, sometimes in a passive way by saying, "I'm not personally for it, but I'm for a woman's choice." Right. That's taking a stand on the issue. But people don't want to touch them anymore, or be on the "wrong side" because that could kill their chances at elected office. Or so the media likes to says.

In President Washington's "Farewell Address," he said religion and morality are necessary conditions of the preservation of free government. Today, religion is pushed aside and belittled, and morality is relative to the person instead of reflective of truth. But the Founders didn't think so. The Constitution upholds the law, but it cannot account for the individual actions of men, which is why religion is so needed in the public sphere. Not, obviously, to use the law to enforce religion's views, but as law de facto. Again, a fine line perhaps, but a needed one.

The Constitution is great because it upholds a permanency and grants liberty and justice for all. We as Americans might see that as a right, but others in the world see that as a privilege, a grace, and a threat.

I could go on, but to end, here's a few quotes by the Founding Fathers. I think they already said it best:

"We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
--John Adams

"The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government."
-- Patrick Henry

"Can the liberties of a nation be sure when we remove their only firm basis: a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift from God?"
-- Thomas Jefferson

"Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labour to subvert these great Pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and citizens. The mere Politician, equally with the pious man ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in Courts of Justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that National morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."
--George Washington

"As long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed. As long as the connection subsists between his reason and his self-love, his opinions and his passions will have a reciprocal influence on each other."
--James Madison

And just for good measure, here is an Imprimis on "The Character of George Washington" by Richard Brookhiser.

That's all for now. I'm going to celebrate Constitution Day by driving up to Hillsdale for the weekend. I am so excited! Oh, and I was on the radio this morning for a story I broke, right before Scott Rasmussen. I also just realized I'm wearing red (headband), white (shirt) and blue (jumper) on Constitution Day! I am so American (Studies)! :)

Happy Friday!

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