In the past, our future is found: Constitution Day 2017

September 17, 2017

Twelve years after the “shot heard round the world” that sparked the American Revolution and independence from England, delegates from 12 states of the newly formed United States of America convened in Philadelphia to address the mounting growing pains of the young nation.  (Rhode Island was skeptical of the convention and refused to send delegates.)

The same building where previous delegates had affixed their signatures to Thomas Jefferson’s masterpiece and agreed to  “mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our Sacred Honor,” was now hosting the men who would secure that hard fought freedom with a more stable governing document.

The public goal was to amend and improve the unraveling Articles of Confederation but James Madison, a strong nationalist, was convinced the only way to save the United States from dissolution into 13 dysfunctional states was to draft a new Constitution.

While waiting on the other delegations to arrive he drafted his Virginia Plan and with the Pennsylvania delegates formed the coalition that would steer the full convention to adopting his draft as the framework for a new national government.

On May 25, 1787, a quorum was finally assembled, the Constitutional Convention was called to order, George Washington was unanimously elected President and the debates began.

And 115 days later on September 17, 1787, 38 of the 41 delegates still present signed the new Constitution of the United State.  Delaware would claim first ratification honors on a date the future would deem infamous, December 7th, and on June 21, 1788 New Hampshire became the needed  9th state and Madison’s dream became the official governing document of a once again rebirthed United States of America.

Since then, those patriots initial endeavor has been amended over two dozen times.  Starting with the cherished Bill of Rights, and covering everything from abolishing slavery, voting rights for women, denying and then restoring American’s ability to purchase alcohol, to eliminating poll taxes to vote, our Constitution has shown itself to be as resilient and adaptable as the people it governs.

Yet for all its brilliance there are those today actively working to undermine it.

With all the external aggression around the world today, North Korea, Iran, Russia, China, it’s easy to get distracted from what has always been our own worst enemy: ourselves.

Universities implement speech codes to “protect” overly sensitive, unprepared students from hearing that with which they disagree and professors either toe the politically correct line or find themselves terminated.

Under the guise of public safety, gun control advocates chip away at the 2nd amendment while DUI checkpoints skirt the edges of the 4th.

Last week Constitutional ignorance even found its way into the United States Senate.

During the confirmation hearing of Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Notre Dame Law professor Amy Coney Barrett Senators D Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) and Dick Durbin (D., Ill.), actually questioned in full public display whether Barrett’s devotion to her Catholic faith disqualified her from the federal bench.

Feinstein smugly smirked: “When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you,” and Durbin thought it necessary to ask Ms. Barrett ““Do you consider yourself an orthodox Catholic?”

Have these two not read the ending to Article VI? “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

Not to be outdone Hillary Clinton reiterated to CNN’s Anderson Cooper Wednesday evening her disdain for the Electoral College stating unequivocally “I think it needs to be eliminated,” “I’d like to see us move beyond it, yes.”

In her mind, the Electoral College illegitimately denied her the Presidency.  In the Founders great wisdom it worked exactly as designed and protected the Republic from the tyranny of popular mob rule.

Even our previous President, Barack Obama is on record dissing the Constitution as “a charter of negative liberties.” restricting, rather than empowering, the state.

If we want a renewed and unified America, the answer lies not in identity politics, speech codes and government largess; it lies in the exact same place it’s been for the past 230 years:  The United States Constitution and the individual liberties and collective freedoms that it prescribes.

It is the bulwark that protects one from all, it is the soul from which our national strength flows, and tis within its embrace doth our future depend.  To ignore that is to deny truth.

Happy Constitution Day America.

Publisher’s Note:  A version of this column first appeared in the September 17th, 2017 print edition of the Joplin Globe.

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