Would we the people ratify the constitution today?
By Dr. Robert Owens
We the People are the opening words of the preamble to the Constitution. Many patriots glory in that name, "We the People" holding it aloft as a banner against the encroachments of an ever expanding central government. In the minds of many it is connected somehow to Lincoln's famous description of America's government, "Of the People, by the people and for the people."
Both of these were revolutionary terms when first spoken.
The people of the founding generation did not think of themselves as "Americans," instead they saw themselves as citizens of their respective States. The thirteen colonies, with the singular exception of North and South Carolina, were each founded as separate entities. Each had its own history and relationship with the crown. They banded together for the Revolution during which they established the Continental Congress under the Articles of Confederation. This established a confederation composed of thirteen independent States.
When the secretly drafted Constitution was finally revealed to the public many of the leading lights of the Revolution were enraged by what they saw as a counter-revolution seeking to supplant the legally constituted Confederation of States in favor of a consolidated central government. Some of them say the truth was revealed in the first three words, "We the People."
Every school child can recite the most famous words of Patrick Henry, "Give me liberty or give me death." You probably said those words in your head before you read them once you saw his name. He is synonymous with America's defiance to tyranny. While these famous words ring in the heads of all, few know his opinion on the Constitution.
At the Virginia Ratification Convention in 1788, Patrick Henry said,
Ever since the Civil War fatally warped the original federal structure and We the People became a reality the central government of the United States has assumed more and more power until today totalitarianism appears to be within its grasp. I am not referring to the crude overt totalitarianism of a Nazi Germany or a Soviet Russia instead I am referring to a soft totalitarianism, a kind of nanny state smothering of individual freedom, personal liberty and economic opportunity. After the complete subjugation of the States to the central government by the Lincoln administration combined with the increased mobility of the modern era, we the people actually became the way most people think of themselves.
In America today we have a president who in a 2001 interview expressed his inner most thoughts about the Constitution,
That is as clear a statement of the way our Progressive leaders view America's founding document, a charter of negative liberties. A charter that they believe needs to be expanded with a second bill of rights first proposed by FDR in his 1944 State of the Union Address,
According to Cass R. Sunstein, the former administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, President Obama not only believes in FDR's Second Bill of Rights he seeks to implement them,
We are in the grip of the Federalists on steroids bent on redistributing their way to total power. The question before us today is, "Would we the people ratify the Constitution today?"
Even Conservatives believe in a safety net. Everyone contributes to and hopes to receive from Social Security. No one wants people dying in the streets because they can't get medical care so Medicaid is available to the uninsured. Of course Medicare is considered a right for anyone over 65. Unemployment is an accepted part of the safety net as are food stamps. If you add up what is already accepted and expected then throw Obamacare into the mix and you see we have become a society addicted to entitlements all of which would fail the test of a strict interpretation of the Constitution.
The 10th Amendment says, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." The power to do any of these entitlements is not delegated anywhere in the document as it is written, only as it is interpreted.
So would we the people ratify the Constitution as it is written today? I think not. A living document has turned the Constitution into a dead letter and the entitlements we have all accepted have turned the descendants of the Founders, Framers, and Pioneers into supplicants standing before the federal throne waiting for a check.
Only a re-birth of self-reliance, a renaissance of historical perspective and renewed political activity have a chance to bring about a rebirth of liberty in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Keep the faith. Keep the peace. We shall overcome.
Dr. Robert Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion. He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2014 Robert R. Owens firstname.lastname@example.org Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens