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George Washington Quote

There is a rank due to the United States among nations, which will be withheld, if not absolutely lost, by the reputation of weakness. If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of rising prosperity, it must be known, that we are at all times ready for war.

ideas > The Beauty of the Constitution

The Beauty of the Constitution
Recently I had a conversation with a relative of mine, a man that I respect, about the Superferry fiasco here in the State of Hawaii. The Supreme Court of Hawaii has ruled that State of Hawaii, represented by the Linda Lingle administration, erred in exempting the owners of the Superferry from having to perform an environmental assessment in Maui. The Supreme Court ruled that the law, while not providing direct guidance on determining how and who to exempt from requirements of environmental assessment, was not followed correctly by the State in exempting the Superferry. I donít know about you, but how is anyone supposed to know how to follow a law that doesnít explain to me how to follow that law. It is a proverbial Catch-22. No matter how I decide, it can be wrong, depending on who decides it. In effect, Hawaii has become a government of men, not a government of laws. This got us talking about whether or not these judges were judicial activists or strict Constitutionalists. We never really came to any conclusions, but as I was driving home to tonight I had a thought.

The Constitution of the United States was created as the supreme law of the land, the land being the United States of America. It is document that was produced by the blood, sweat and tears of patriots who lived in this country over 200 years ago. It is a living document that has been amended throughout the years as the people see fit. The beauty of this document is that it sets the rules before the proverbial game is played. It makes our government a nation of laws, not of men. A nation of laws allows people to know the rules of the game before the game is played. A nation of men means no one knows the rules except for the men who decide what the rules are. A nation of men is in essence a nation run by few and a nation of tyranny. The majority have no say in a nation of men. This was the very reason that the founding fathers fought for their independence. They wanted to escape a nation of men, or of one man, the King of England.

So it is shocking to me, that increasingly, even in the halls of Congress is a growing voice of people who believe the Constitution is a dated document that canít be seriously applied to our times. They say that our times are infinitely more complicated than the times of the past. With the invention of the Internet, cars, electricity, nuclear power, nuclear weapons, transnational companies, civil rights, equal rights, and many other great inventions and causes, they say that the Constitution clearly wasnít intended to be interpreted literally, because our challenges are outside the bounds of the Constitution.

What they say misses the point. The intent of the Constitution was to create a nation of laws, not of men. It clearly defined, sometimes more clear than others, the purposes of government, the relationship between the governed and the government, the roles and responsibilities of government, and a myriad of other things. It set the rules before the game was played. If one believed that the Constitution doesnít deal with todayís problems, then one should amend the Constitution first to change the rules, so everyone knows what is going on. To ignore the rules or twist the rules while the game is played is frustrating and unfair to those who must play the game. The Constitution allows for a changing of the rules, but it requires a process. It requires people to follow the law. It is a slow, tedious process for a reason. To not amend the Constitution first, yet change the laws through judicial activism or just ignoring the Constitution, means that you now have a nation of men, not of laws. This is unpredictable and a perfect set up for a tyrannical government run by the few and not accountable to the people. If the government ignores the laws and the people ignore the laws, then you have a government and a people operating under the premises of a nation of men. Men are unpredictable, laws are not. Men can change their minds, laws cannot.

Instead of ignoring the Constitution with such fallacious arguments as it does not apply to our time with our myriad of complex problems, wouldnít it be better to amend the Constitution because this makes us a nation of laws, not of men. A nation of laws is predictable. A nation of men is unpredictable, and can easily lead to tyranny. Respect the Constitution, not as some old document that is meaningless, but as a timeless document, that when followed, ensures that we are a nation of laws, not of men. Freedom can be secured by a nation of predictable laws, not of unpredictable men.
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