A passage from the Bible says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish, but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” A contemporary English translation puts it like this: “If people can't see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; but when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed.”
The Constitution of the United States was written for just this purpose – to give the people of this fledgling nation purpose so we don’t stumble along in the pursuit of “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” The Constitution is presented in such a way as to allow us to stay focused on a simplified rule of law, a government that is not intrusive into the daily affairs of the people, and which allows ordinary citizens the freedom to pursue their dreams.
To appreciate just how the Constitution came into being a working knowledge of The Federalist Papers is very helpful. The Federalist Papers were written during the 1770-80s time period when as a new nation we were attempting to establish some structured form of self-governance. This would lead to the actual formulation of the Constitution which was adopted by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia on September 17, 1787. The authors of these papers were Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay in an attempt to explain “the complexities of the constitutional government – its political structure and principles based on the inherent rights of man.”
The opening paragraph in the introduction of the Papers clearly states the intent of the writing of the Constitution. The language is antiquated, which is a nice way of saying we don’t speak or write like this anymore.
“After an unequivocal experience of the efficacy of the subsisting federal government, you are called upon to deliberate on a Constitution for the United States of America. The subject speaks its own importance; comprehending in its consequences nothing less than the existence of the UNION, the safety and welfare of the parts of which it is composed, the fate of an empire in many respects the most interesting in the world. It has been frequently remarked that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force. If there be any truth in the remark, the crisis at which we are arrived may with propriety be regarded as the era in which that decision is to be made; and a wrong election of the part we shall act may, in this view, deserve to be considered as the general misfortune of mankind.”
I encourage you to reread the previous paragraph several times. In short: the members of the Constitutional Convention were intentional in deliberating over the formation of the Constitution. They understood the importance of this daunting task! Putting this into a document would either be the greatest exercise in human governance the world has ever seen, or it would be a disaster. No nation had ever allowed its citizens to make such liberating decisions concerning how they would be ruled. Why were the citizens of United States allowed to decide how they were to be governed? The answer is found in the previous paragraph: By their conduct and example! This was a very new experiment in leading the people of any nation. All that the world had ever known to this point were kings, potentates, dictators, and despots who typically ruled with an iron fist, believing that only a few in society were exceptional and all the rest of the populace were sheep, needing to be controlled.
Today, our nation faces challenges to the Constitution by those who believe that “we the people” need to be controlled in every area of our lives. Our current government wants to decide what your health insurance will cover, to how much salt you can have in your diet, to the amount of money you should be allowed to earn, to government run programs “to spread the wealth around” that will redistribute your money so as to make sure those with less will have some of yours. That, my friends, is not what the founding fathers had in mind!
God blessed this nation from its inception. The vision of liberty and freedom is still very much alive. But it grieves me to think that our freedoms are being taken away from us at a breathtaking rate. I did not spend thirty-four years in the military where I took an oath to “protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, so help me God,” only to see it pushed aside as some out-of-date document that can be ignored or changed at will by our elected officials and judiciary. If things continue at this pace, we may look back on our Constitution with its continued loss of freedoms and realize that the world is much the poorer because we did not fight to keep our hard-won liberties.