America at 240: Will she make 250?

July 4, 2016

EagleAmerica240 years ago today, the phrases “When in the Course of human events…and…We hold these truths to be self-evident…” were ushered into the annals of human history when the Second Continental Congress officially adopted the final draft of “The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America”.

With over a year passing since the first shots were fired at Lexington and Concord, the delegates had finally realized that if they were ever to live their dream of individual liberty over government largesse they would first have to win that right by fight.

Eleven years later, the end result of their ’76 Declaration, The Constitution, was signed and sent out to the states for ratification.  Combined with the Bill of Rights four years later the foundation was laid for the freedoms we enjoy today.  Freedoms that sadly all too many take for granted while others work diligently to undermine them.

It was the summer of 1787 when Benjamin Franklin exited Independence Hall after the finalizing of the Constitution and was asked by a Mrs. Powel:  ““Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” to which Franklin replied “A republic, Madam, if you can keep it.”

In 1798 President John Adams, in a letter to the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts, extolled that “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.”

Franklin knew over two centuries ago the nature of government and how hard it would be to maintain the republic that he and his fellow patriots had framed.  Adams knew the damage that would come should government overseeing that republic ever fall into the hands of those void of the morality needed to place the Constitution above their desire for political power.

That we have survived all these years is a testament to the Founders collective brilliance; yet how long that brilliance will continue to shine becomes less clear with each passing day.

One recent case in point being U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit judge Richard Posner writing in  “I see absolutely no value to a judge of spending decades, years, months, weeks, day, hours, minutes, or seconds studying the Constitution, the history of its enactment, its amendments, and its implementation…Eighteenth-century guys, however smart, could not foresee the culture, technology, etc., of the 21st century.”

Yes, that is a sitting federal judge openly declaring that he just doesn’t see much value left in the very document he took an oath to support and defend.  He even ended with “in short, let’s not let the dead bury the living.”

Judge Posner’s arrogance seems to have blinded him to the fact that those “Eighteenth century guys” are more enlightened from the grave then he could ever hope to be.

From his “sappers and miners constantly working underground to undermine our Constitution” to referencing the Constitution as but a “mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary” to the ultimate danger of judicial supremacy placing us all “under the despotism of an oligarchy”, it was none other than the author of the Declaration of Independence itself, Thomas Jefferson, that foresaw exactly the coming of the judge Posner’s of this time and the havoc they would wreak.

No Judge Posner, the problem isn’t Eighteenth-century dead guys burying today’s living; the problem is 21st century judicial arrogance killing off yesterday’s wisdom.

Happy 240th America.  And here’s to your 250th….if you can make it.

PUBLISHER’s NOTE:  A version of this column first appeared in the July 4th, 2016 print edition of the Joplin Globe.

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