The Constitution with its Bill of Rights has come a long way since its adoption by the Founding Fathers. The question is how relevant is it today and what should its place be in the United States of America?
As a conservative, it is wise to sometimes step back from the lunacy of the 24 hour news cycle, the partisanship and the attacks and try to think about the reason we are doing all this in the first place.
For those not so familiar, what is it that Americans believe is so special about our Constitution? What makes it lead to American Exceptionalism? Why does it matter?
America is more than the most powerful military machine the world has ever seen. America is more than the world’s reserve currency. America is more than the world’s biggest economy. America is an idea. An idea that makes us all crazy sometimes but an idea none the less. It is during times of great political upheaval that I often get asked how I can be so optimistic about the future and, more importantly, how I can still be civil with those on the other side of the isle from me.
It is because, in the end, the Constitution is fulfilling one of its greatest roles. It is one of those things that makes America work. It is what Thomas Jefferson called the Spirit of Resistance.
“And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms…. The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” – Thomas Jefferson in a letter to William S. Smith in 1787.
The Founding Fathers were not perfect. They weren’t kings or gods. They were men. Men who were exhausted form a long war and an even longer struggle for self governance. What was inherent in their thoughts for our Constitution was how do we, as a country, build a system which can maintain stability long enough to prevent either a decent into tyranny or another rebellion? the answer was the Bill of Rights. A system which guaranteed the people a guarantee of freedom from the very basic oppressions that had dogged every country before ours, but at the same time, the ability for it to change by the will of the people. It isn’t easy to change (requiring 2/3 of Congress, the Senate, The signature of the President and the consent of 2/3 of the States), but it can be done when society demands it.
How do we feel comfortable with the Bill of Rights in the Internet Age? Should Free Speech be guaranteed in a time where everyone has a microphone? Is Freedom of Religion sacrosanct in a time of increased participation in organized religion? The Right to Privacy in the age of Global Terrorism? The Right to Bear Arms in the age of advanced weapons of war?
The answer to all those questions is still a resounding yes. Even those opposed to the rights granted by the various amendments use its various protections in order to voice those concerns. Without Freedom of Speech how would the Left protest gun ownership? Without Freedom of Religion would the Right make a case against Gay Marriage? They wouldn’t is the simple answer.
The most important right to be tested in this day and age though is Privacy. In a time where everyone willingly puts all their information online and likewise the government feels less and less compelled to keep the citizenship informed. It is 100% imperative that the country has a conversation about the Right to Privacy and what it means. Abortion, Criminal Justice, Immigration, Corruption and so many other issues all come down to what a person, and a government for that matter, have the right to keep private. More and more this right is eroding and is not talked about. The Media, who have a vested interest in not having to adhere to any standard of privacy, wants as much as the government to avoid the conversation.
At the very least, it is incumbent on the citizenry to stop letting politicians pervert the name of the Constitution in the name of protecting us. It is becoming a lie, and a crutch.
What is your opinion?