There is a reason why up until now I have avoided discussing in any detail the particulars of the Constitution itself. My purpose in doing so was to ensure you had, at least, a basic understanding of the how and why it came to be written, and the difficulty in getting the states to ratify it.
While it may appear that the Constitution was nothing more than a series of compromises, you would be mistaken in thinking it was something that was haphazardly thrown together. A great deal of care went into establishing a system of government with the various checks and balances you may have heard mentioned in discussions of the Constitution.
It truly is a sad commentary on the state of affairs in the United States that we do not demand that our schools to devote the time required to fully educate our children about the principles contained in this amazing document. If we did, I would not feel the need to explain what we should have been taught.
The result in this aspect of our education is a public that has no idea as to the purpose of the Constitution, and the limitations it places upon their government. Yet when we go to the polls and choose who will represent us in this government, we have the nerve to claim that we are educated voters.
I often wonder, how many citizens have taken it upon themselves to correct this deficiency in their education. I am not, in any way, trying to make people feel guilty about their ignorance in regards to the Constitution. To tell you the truth, I was almost 40 before I ever took the time to read it for myself. Even then much of what I read did not sink in. It wasn’t until I began researching the writings of the founders, and numerous Supreme Court rulings that I began to understand the sheer genius of this document.
I still don’t consider myself to be any kid of expert on the Constitution, although many have told me that I am quite the Constitutional scholar. Hardly. Instead I believe it is more an obsession, this quest for knowledge.
I like to consider myself much as did Alexander Hamilton, who once wrote, “Men give me credit for some genius.
All the genius I have is this. When I have a subject in mind. I study it profoundly. Day and night it is before me. My mind becomes pervaded with it… the effort which I have made is what people are pleased to call the fruit of genius. It is the fruit of labor and thought.”
If you think about it, governmental power can only be exercised by one of two methods. Power can either be granted the government to perform certain tasks, as it has under our system, or it can be assumed by the government without consent of the people, as it has been happening with increasing frequency in our country.
Therefore, either a group of people will assume power against the will of the majority, or the majority will agree to surrender a certain amount of authority unto government to manage the affairs of a nation.
Our government exists only because the people agreed to a charter, (the Constitution) which limited the scope of the governments power over their lives. In other words, the power they have over us exists because we gave it to them.
Or, as James Madison so clearly explained in Federalist Paper #49, “As the people are the only legitimate fountain of power, and it is from them that the constitutional charter, under which the several branches of government hold their power, is derived…”
Not only that, but the very first thing you find when beginning to read the Constitution is a Preamble, which states, “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure 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.”
Therefore, if we are the ones who endowed our government with its powers, wouldn’t it make sense for people to be familiar with what powers they actually granted their government. That way they could stay vigilant for occasions when the government overstepped its authority? The alternative would be for people to be open themselves up to unlimited abuses of power by those whom they had elected.
The Constitution is broken down into seven Articles, each covering a different aspect of our government, the relationship of the State to the Federal Government, and the legal status and the means of making changes to the document itself.
So, as I proceed, I would hope that each of you who read this will empty your mind of all preconceived notions concerning the purpose of government. Let us start from scratch, using the document that breathed life into this government so that you can begin to see just how far we have strayed from the way things were supposed to be.
The Ross Archive on The Federal Observer