Since its ratification, the United States Constitution has stood as a beacon of hope to the world. Once again, it is being systematically tested. Will the blood of the patriots that came before and the will of the American people now be enough to sustain it?
The Constitution is only as strong as the people willing to protect and defend it.
The Constitution has been tested throughout our Nation’s history. Through two world wars, a civil war, and countless efforts to undermine it, the US Constitution has remained intact. It has survived despite attempts to reinterpret, redefine, thwart, and even destroy it.
History reminds us that generations past fulfilled their duty. They rose willingly and ably, sacrificing all on both the world stage and at home, to stop those intent on destroying America and all she stands for.
From its ratification to the present, the blood of patriots has been shed to ensure the Constitution and all it represents survives. Why? Because they believed in it. In the universal truths, it safeguards. Most notably among them, that life and liberty are God-given rights worth protecting and defending at all costs.
The US Constitution was not written to protect the government, but to protect the people from the government. Therein lies its greatest strength.
Not surprisingly, what makes the Constitution strong, the principles upon which it was established, is seen as an obstacle by those seeking to gain power beyond the limits it sets. Which is precisely why they call it antiquated, outdated, and irrelevant.
Despite these monikers, the Constitution, the limits it sets, and the rights it protects, have proven to be timeless and enduring. The blood of patriots past and present attest to its relevance and strength. As does the almost two-and-a-half centuries it has endured.
The principles the founding fathers established our Constitutional Republic on are based on the laws of nature and of God.
- All men are created equal. In other words, all mankind is equal before God, equal before the law, and equal in their rights.
- Mankind is endowed by God with certain inalienable rights. “Those rights, then, which God and nature have established, and are therefore called natural rights, such as life and liberty, need not the aid of human laws to be more effectually invested in every man than they are; neither do they receive any additional strength when declared by the municipal [or state] laws to be inviolable. On the contrary, no human legislation has power to abridge or destroy them, unless the owner [of the right] shall himself commit some act that amounts to a forfeiture,” William Blackstone.
- Governments are instituted among men to protect those rights. Governments derive their power from the will of the people. The proper role of government is to protect equal rights, not provide equal things.
- When governments fail to protect those rights, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish that government. “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes … but when a long train of abuses and usurpations … evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security, Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence.
The safeguards the founding fathers put in place are meant to thwart the baser nature of man. They are meant to uphold the will of the people.
Our founding fathers understood the propensity of governments to subvert the will of the people in order to wrest power from them. They knew firsthand, the evil that lurks within the halls of every government institution. That evil unchecked disregards human rights, usurps power, and imprisons the population it was meant to protect.
From the beginning, their goal was a Constitution that limits governmental power and protects the rights of the people.
- Separation of Powers. The Constitution divides power in two ways. First, it separates the national government into three separate but equal branches, legislative, executive, and judicial. Second, it further divides power into national and state powers, also known as federalism.
- Checks and Balances. The Constitution ensures that no one branch of government becomes too powerful by limiting and controlling the power of each branch. In other words, checks and balances operate throughout the U.S. government, as each branch exercises certain powers that can be checked by the powers given to the other two branches.
- Electoral College. The Constitution protects the will of the minority from being overtaken by the will of the majority. The Electoral College is just one example. When debating the election of the President, the delegates foresaw two distinct problems with the popular vote alone. First, people would tend to support candidates from their own states which would give unfair advantage to larger states. Second, states with a higher concentration of voters would come to dominate the outcome. To decentralize elections and ensure that all parts of the country, minority and majority states alike, are represented, the Electoral College was established.
- Bicameral Legislative Branch. “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives,” Article I, Section 1. The goal of the founders was to limit the power of Congress. Further, they protected the rights and voice of smaller, less populated states by making the Senate the upper house and allotting two Senators per state regardless of population. The House of Representatives, the lower house, on the other hand, is based on state population. Meaning the number of representatives per state depends on each state’s population.
- 10th Amendment. “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 Bill of Rights. The first ten amendments to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, were ratified in 1791. The Bill of Rights places specific prohibitions on governmental power and provides greater constitutional protection for individual liberties.
Our history is filled with struggles that, at heart, not only upheld but expanded the principles contained in the Constitution. Tests like the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement led to the addition of amendments that increased and forever protected the rights of all citizens.
Achieving those victories came at a cost. A cost that was paid in full by the blood of patriots willing to rise in the face of tyranny. Willing to sacrifice all to ensure freedom and liberty were not lost. Not just here at home, but across the globe.
Now is no different. We are being tested and it is our turn to rise.
It is this generation’s duty to ensure the Constitution continues to survive. It has too. Our Republic and its future depend on it.