We should always consider what we promise in the Preamble to our Constitution, the supreme law of our land.
“People get the government they deserve.”
~ Alexander Hamilton
Greetings my fellow Americans!
We, myself included, have written and talked a lot about what our national Constitution does, and does not, explicate when it comes to power and responsibility for the integrity and longevity of what was to become the greatest civilization in human history. In my most recent series (which I intend to resume after the holidays) I’ve been attempting to unpack our so-called Bill of Rights in plain-speaking lay terms, in order to renew appreciation for the beauty and simplicity of our initial social compact, and contrast it with how convoluted many of our modern-day interpretations of it have become.
What I’ve rarely, if ever, seen is such an examination of the Preamble to that agreement. I’ll admit that I learned to memorize those words primarily through the mid-afternoon musical rote of Schoolhouse Rock back in the 1970s, when pro-American TV programming was still the norm:
“We the People, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of Liberty, to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
Pause and reflect upon these words a moment.
Notice the first three words of the document codifying the “supreme law of our land:” WE THE PEOPLE. This could have been of no coincidence, as the notion of government Of, By, and For the People had theretofore been theorized but never instituted. America was a novel system of formal government and a stark contrast from those previously conceived, accentuated by that opening phrase.
We the People sought a more perfect union, not a perfect one; as Christians We knew the latter was impossible. We also knew that We needed to band together at some level to defend ourselves from inevitable threats from without, and discord from within, to maintain the relative freedom We had only been able to achieve through war. And, We not only wanted this for ourselves, but for the generations of our children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and so on which would follow us in life.
We the People ordained and established this government: We sanctioned it, and We bestowed authority on others to “secure the blessings” for which We had fought so hard to achieve. Blessings from whom, if not founded on the premise of unalienable rights endowed by a Creator? And how can such blessings be safeguarded when those being given the authority to do so exercise no practical concern for the “general welfare” of those from whom that power had been granted? How, too, can such concerns be held by imperfect, fallen humans when there is zero accountability and no negative consequences for failing to protect and maintain these?
The Preamble to the United States Constitution put the ultimate responsibility for all of these things on us—WE THE PEOPLE. We ordained and established this government; it is our blessings of Liberty which have been at stake since the end of our Revolution. We knew We needed a select body of individuals amply representative of Us at-large to establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, and provide for our common defense, but WE needed to ensure they actually did it. WE needed to ensure that education of our young adequately perpetuated the traditions and mores of the free society in which our blessings of Liberty would be secured.
If there is a so-called swamp within the bowels of our national government (and in many of our State and local municipalities), it is because WE failed to maintain it, and allowed it to stagnate. If it is to be drained, WE need to do it, and stop looking to someone else to do it for US. So says the supreme law of our land.
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