Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Constitutional Thoughts

With the vote on health care complete there are so many things I have been contemplating about the specifics of the bill that was passed.  Today the brain trust at the lunch table had a healthy discussion on the topic on such things.  However for me the problem is not so much the bill (as destructive, expensive, and foolish as it is) as to what it means in America that we would vote for a bill such as this.  This vote is a major step away from the Contstitution.  The very Constitution formed to prevent a move toward total government.  A constitution that was meant to avoid the problems of the European form of democracy that allowed too much control from aristocracy and monarchy.  In a move completely foreign at the time, the founders transformed government to be the people endowing rights to the government instead of the government endowing rights to the people.  It was a government that had a Bill of Rights that addressed only rights given by God to an individual.  There are not items in the Bill of Rights that endow individuals with rights assigned to them by the government or that require collective sacrifice by all of society to grant to all people like Jobs, Housing, and Medical care.  The government is conferring "rights" on the people and are not doing it through the Constitution.

 Everytime I read the founder's writing I find nothing but gold.  No founder could even recognize our government in its current state.  Until such time as this country votes to ditch our Constitution and adopt some western European type mish mosh...this is the Constitution I want upheld in the land.  You may note a famous quote contained within this letter from Benjamin Franklin to the last session of the Constitutional Convention in 1787. I have highlighted what I think are the most relevant passages.

Mr. President


I confess that there are several parts of this constitution which I do not at present approve, but I am not sure I shall never approve them: For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged by better information, or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise. It is therefore that the older I grow, the more apt I am to doubt my own judgment, and to pay more respect to the judgment of others. Most men indeed as well as most sects in Religion, think themselves in possession of all truth, and that wherever others differ from them it is so far error. Steele a Protestant in a Dedication tells the Pope, that the only difference between our Churches in their opinions of the certainty of their doctrines is, the Church of Rome is infallible and the Church of England is never in the wrong. But though many private persons think almost as highly of their own infallibility as of that of their sect, few express it so naturally as a certain french lady, who in a dispute with her sister, said "I don't know how it happens, Sister but I meet with no body but myself, that's always in the right — Il n'y a que moi qui a toujours raison."

In these sentiments, Sir, I agree to this Constitution with all its faults, if they are such; because I think a general Government necessary for us, and there is no form of Government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered, and believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in Despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other. I doubt too whether any other Convention we can obtain, may be able to make a better Constitution. For when you assemble a number of men to have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those men, all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views. From such an assembly can a perfect production be expected? It therefore astonishes me, Sir, to find this system approaching so near to perfection as it does; and I think it will astonish our enemies, who are waiting with confidence to hear that our councils are confounded like those of the Builders of Babel; and that our States are on the point of separation, only to meet hereafter for the purpose of cutting one another's throats. Thus I consent, Sir, to this Constitution because I expect no better, and because I am not sure, that it is not the best. The opinions I have had of its errors, I sacrifice to the public good. I have never whispered a syllable of them abroad. Within these walls they were born, and here they shall die. If every one of us in returning to our Constituents were to report the objections he has had to it, and endeavor to gain partizans in support of them, we might prevent its being generally received, and thereby lose all the salutary effects & great advantages resulting naturally in our favor among foreign Nations as well as among ourselves, from our real or apparent unanimity. Much of the strength & efficiency of any Government in procuring and securing happiness to the people, depends, on opinion, on the general opinion of the goodness of the Government, as well as of the wisdom and integrity of its Governors. I hope therefore that for our own sakes as a part of the people, and for the sake of posterity, we shall act heartily and unanimously in recommending this Constitution (if approved by Congress & confirmed by the Conventions) wherever our influence may extend, and turn our future thoughts & endeavors to the means of having it well administred.

On the whole, Sir, I can not help expressing a wish that every member of the Convention who may still have objections to it, would with me, on this occasion doubt a little of his own infallibility, and to make manifest our unanimity, put his name to this instrument.
 
~Benjamin Franklin
 
So alas the war continues for the virtue of the Constitution and the battles that lay ahead will determine its fate.

1 comment:

Cheryl Louise Johnson said...

Good article. Good to read and be informed about what our founding fathers said. Keep on fighting, but don't be worried.

Wanna hear something cool? Earlier today I finished the post I started yesterday, the one - "maybe I am naive" - with more thoughts that I had intended to include. I happened to look upon your blog here, which I had read previously but didn't comment. I saw your list of blogs and the the post for "The Shepherd's Study - Calm Words in a Storm of Fear" had just been posted 2 minutes ago. I clicked on it and read an expanded version of what I wrote! (God is trying to tell us all something! :D lol )