Happy Constitution Day!

Two authors offer Constitution Day thoughts for our readers: 

Phil Boehmke:

The 112th Congress of the United States began its term by reading the U.S. Constitution.  Many on the left dismissed this gesture as a parlor trick and a means of pandering to the Tea Party.  Many conservatives wondered if this congress would have the faith and courage to embrace the principles which have made our Republic the world's great bastion of freedom.

Today is Constitution Day in America.  For several hours yesterday I asked friends, acquaintances and total strangers if they knew what September 17th was.  The most common response was of course "Saturday."  This was not a big surprise to me since Constitution Day is not printed on most calendars (although most list 9/16 as Mexican Independence Day) and there is little if any fanfare suggesting the significance of the day.   This begs the question, is the U.S. Constitution still relevant to the people it protects?

When asked at the close of the Constitutional Convention in 1787 what sort of government we will have, Benjamin Franklin remarked "A Republic, if you can keep it."  Do we still have a Republic?  We still have a Constitution, but we currently have a chief executive who subverts and sidesteps our supreme law with impunity.  Barack Obama is among those on the far left who sneer at our Founding Fathers and then choose to dismiss the U.S. Constitution by claiming that we cannot possibly know what the Framers were thinking when this great guarantor of freedom was written.

Mr. Obama and his kind have spent far too much time reading Karl Marx in their dorm rooms beneath a poster of Che Guevara while remaining blissfully ignorant of "The Federalist Papers," "Letters from a Federal Farmer" or any of the other volumes which do indeed contain the thoughts and beliefs of those great patriots who created our Constitution.  Yes, we do know what they were thinking because they put it in writing and handed it down to future generations of Americans who still thirst for truth and freedom.

Certainly Barack Obama must have read the U.S. Constitution at some point in time after all he was a lecturer in Constitutional Law and the University of Chicago.  However, knowing the law and obeying the law are two distinct and separate things and a clever tyrant can usually find ways to pervert and twist existing law to serve his own nefarious agenda.  In "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich," William L. Shirer wrote:

Though the Weimar Republic was destroyed, the Weimar Constitution was never formally abrogated by Hitler.  Indeed-and ironically-Hitler based the "legality" of his rule on the despised republican constitution.  [1]

Adolf Hitler used a provision in the Weimar Constitution to rule Germany by decree (executive order), while effectively consolidating power and ignoring the Reichstag (legislature), his "legal" maneuvers allowed him to fundamentally transform his country.  The people of Germany had no firm democratic tradition and the vast majority had no concept the protections which were guaranteed by their constitution and thus were easy prey.

 Do well still have a Republic?  The 112th U.S. Congress has thus far been little more than an inconvenience to Barack Obama.  What of the people?

Yesterday as I met and spoke with the good folks in the tiny village of Ringwood, Illinois, I found some reason for hope.  Although I never did find anyone who knew that today was Constitution Day, each person that I spoke with was interested to learn this small slice of our history.  As I presented my fellow Americans with a pocket U.S. Constitution in honor of the day, every single one of my fellow citizens happily received the booklet without even one single negative remark.

Among the diverse group of Americans who spoke with me were executives, factory workers, office workers and truck drivers.  There were young and old, Black, White, Hispanic and Asian.  There were Republicans, Democrats, Independents and non-participants.  Many had voted for Barack Obama in 2008.

The comments I received upon presenting my new friends with their copy of the Constitution ranged from "I'm ashamed to say this, but I've never read this" to "I already have a copy, but I want to give this to my daughter."  One young lady looked at the booklet and said "Is this the whole thing?"  I assured her that it was and that it also included the Declaration of Independence, she was astonished saying "If it's this small, how come the politicians act like it is too complicated to understand?" 

One truck driver who I spoke with on his way to a local factory in the morning, stopped as he was leaving with his freight and said, "Hey, I started reading through this book and there was a great quote from John Adams in the front that really hit me."

Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

"Maybe this is why the left keeps trying to remove God from America.  Maybe this is why they push abortion and want to legalize pot!"  As my friend rolled down the highway he left me with a sense that we can still save our country because there are more of us joining the battle every day.

Most of the good folks who shared some time with me told me that they would make a point to read the Constitution right away.  Many asked if our Constitution still mattered to the current leadership.  My response was "Read it.  Learn it.  Know it and act upon when you enter the voting booth." 

Happy Constitution Day America!

[1]  Shirer, William L.  "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich."  New York: Simon and Schuster, Inc. 1959.  p.  274.

Andrew Schwartz writes:

Happy Constitution Day? Not for one-sixth of Democrats

In 2010, James Madison's Montpelier estate commissioned a survey conducted throughout the United States to determine what the "state of the Constitution" is. Most of the questions are benign and of little consequence to the direction of our country, such as, "How much of the Constitution have you read?" and "How much of the Constitution do you understand?" Other questions test the knowledge of the respondents, or their interpretations, in regards to our fundamental law. These are pertinent questions, but they are more indicative of our educational system than political motives.

Perhaps the most intriguing question asked on the survey, however, was, "Does it still work, or is it time for a new Constitution?"

Eighty-eight percent of respondents responded that the Constitution still works, while twelve percent said it was time for a new constitution. (Obviously, there was no reason for a desired change attached to their answers in the survey.)

We may be tempted to dismiss this statistic as inconsequential with the military maxim, "there's always that ten percent," who are constantly subject to the scorn and derision of the remaining nine-tenths. However, a look at the crosstabs and demographic breakdowns are a bit more concerning.

The percentage is nearly tripled when applied only to the age group of 18-24: Out of the respondents within these ages, over 32% believe it is time for a new Constitution. In the African American demographic, likewise, the percentage who wishes for a new Constitution is three-fold of the national average (36.2%). When broken down by party affiliation, we see that Democrats are 25% more likely than the average American to rid ourselves of, or replace, the Supreme Law of the Land, whereas Republicans are 60% less likely to consider such an idea than the average. Those who do not identify with either party, nor as independents -- just who are these people? -- are nearly twice as likely from the average to desire a new Constitution. (The self-identified Independents' responses are within the margin of error from the total.)

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