In Search of Constitution

If this were September 1787, I would have been sitting right outside that middle window.

I took a few extra minutes today to find a spot where I could simply sit and think. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking constantly about the direction in which this country is headed and have surprised myself with just how negative I could be toward one person in particular during the recent part of the political process. With so very much on the line today, I wanted to sit back for a moment, gain some perspective, and bring everything together.

Sitting in a spot where Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, James Madison and Benjamin Franklin walked, talked and agonized over the establishment of this great nation, I wondered what they would think of their America today, I wondered how we could somehow get closer to the ideals under which they sought independence and subsequently embraced it.

We live in arguably the greatest country ever seen by man. America is by far the strongest, the most compassionate, the furthest advanced–scientifically and otherwise–nation in the history of the world, and it was created by a relatively small group of people who put everything on the line in the name of crawling out from under a tyrannical and intrusive government. The idea that the United States of America has come so far in the past 231 years is staggering.

I worry that we are in the midst of an irreparable departure from the ideas and ideals which facilitated the founding of this nation. At every turn, it seems, the government is pushing to become more and more involved in the daily affairs of Americans, exponentially centralizing government while simultaneously blurring the lines of our outermost borders and signing away the sovereignty borne from the blood, sweat and sacrifice of generations long dead and forgotten.

At a time when national security is paramount, our borders are beyond porous and practically meaningless. At a time when we are teetering on the edge of economic crisis, we consider placing further regulations on our own industry and fail to acknowledge the merits of across-the-board tax cuts. The list goes on and on — I could spend the entire night focusing upon our problems; what we need are solutions.

My friends, America needs to find its constitution.

Somewhere along the way, we have forgotten that this country was founded on a set of rules drafted by men who were looking to establish a nation diametrically opposed to the one from which they came. Our nation’s founders envisioned a country with a limited centralized government and strong collection of states; instead, we have a federal government that interferes in everything from legal drinking age to Major League Baseball. To ensure the continuing prosperity of this nation, we need to return the power to this nation’s people. That means more power to states, to local governments and to municipalities; that means saying no to federal mandates on smoking, on fuel efficiency, on trans fats; that means refusing to place the blame on and depend solely upon the federal government when Mother Nature brings her worst.

The long-term prosperity of this nation–perhaps its very existence–lies in gathering the power as far away from Washington, D.C. as possible:

Think about it… America works best when it takes its strength from and when it sets its course based upon the will of the people. As evidenced by the enormous disconnect between the people and the elected put on display during the May/June 2007 debate about the failed immigration bill, nobody knows the problems faced by this country like the people of this country. On such a critical issue, many of those who have been elected to represent the people were doing the exact opposite; it’s a natural product of using power to obtain more power, of career politicians starting the re-election campaign the very second they settle into their desk. It has been 220 years since the United States Constitution was signed in that room in Philadelphia — the five longest-serving members of Congress have been in office, collectively, for 240 years. Robert Byrd has been in office for 55 years, John Dingell has been there for 52 years. Daniel Inouye, Teddy Kennedy and John Conyers round out the crew with 48, 45 and 43 years of service, respectively. Doesn’t that strike anybody as awful or, at the very least, counterproductive?

I’m not going to insult anyone’s intelligence by saying that the current crop of congressmen and congresswomen would amend the Constitution to include term limits any time soon. What I am saying, however, is that Americans need to find some constitution of their own. We need to quit pulling the lever for people based upon name recognition, upon love for the status quo. We need to speak out regarding bills like the campaign finance reform bill championed by John McCain and Russ Feingold that, besides trampling on the First Amendment, protected incumbents at the expense of the American people. We need to wake up, get involved, absorb as much as possible from as many sources as possible, and actually realize that caucuses, delegates, congressional districts, and even polls are far more important than just numbers and speculation needed to fill some newspaper pages before the Sports section.

Think about it… The economy will do its best when wallets and purses belonging to the American people are kept as far away from the halls of Congress as possible. When people are able to retain and spend as they see fit more of their own money, everybody benefits. A lower tax burden is proven to bring in higher revenue, and it needs to be a low tax burden across the board, not just for those who have the least amount of digits to the left of the decimal point in their bank accounts. The reviled “wealthy” in this country are the ones that build businesses, create jobs, and invest in the American economy.

According to the U.S. Treasury, the wealthiest one percent of Americans paid almost 40 percent of all the income taxes in 2005. The wealthiest five percent paid almost 60 percent of the total tax bill in 2005. The richest ten percent–for those of you who bring home more than $170,000 yearly, that’s you!–paid over 70 percent. The bottom 50 percent paid just three percent of the bill.

As Americans, we need to stand up and tell our government–or better yet, elect officials who already understand–that less regulation, less obstacles, less burden means more growth. Even the most powerful sports car in the world is just as fast as a dinged-up minivan on a road littered with massive speed bumps.

Think about it… Nobody knows the educational needs of American children like teachers. In the No Child Left Behind Act, the Bush Administration may have had wonderful intentions, but it created a bureaucracy which is strangling American schools, teachers and students, all at the expense of America’s future. Of course the country’s schools need to have increased accountability; of course the country’s schools should have goals to meet in terms of aptitude and testing. Forcing federal standards, however, are not the way to go about it. The future of this nation is directly connected to what goes on in its classrooms, and the effectiveness of those classrooms is entirely dependent upon how far the educational system is removed from the federal government.

Ronald Reagan, in his “thousand points of light” State of the Union address and throughout his presidency, advocated for the dismantling of the U.S. Department of Education. He was absolutely correct. By disbanding the department, the task of properly educating our nation’s children would return to the states, the counties, the municipalities, and the fate of the pimply and pre-pimply youngsters would be placed in the hands of those who know best what the kids need. See, what works in New York City will not necessarily work in rural Mississippi. What doesn’t work in Boise, Idaho might be just the trick in Birmingham, Alabama. Kids are different, cultures are different, teachers are different, schools are different — why set forth such uniform standards that teachers are forced to prepare kids for tests more than they prepare kids for life? The American people need to find their constitution. They need to stand up and tell the government that the fate and future of our nation’s children requires that Congress loosen its grip on education.

Think about it… Just as football and hockey games are more fun to watch when the referees let the players play, businesses work best when not saddled with crippling and unnecessary regulation. Increased labor expenses resulting from strengthening unions make it difficult enough for American companies to compete with foreign competitors, we do not need further government involvement in the form of federal mandates which get in the way of our ability to grow our own economy. There’s a reason that Ford and General Motors builds so many cars in Mexico and Canada and still makes an average of $2000 less on each vehicle than some of the Japanese companies do — automakers which, by the way, produce many of their vehicles here in the United States using American, non-union labor. Imagine the repercussions of the recent fuel efficiency standards so nicely passed by the president.

This plight of business and its relationship to governmental interference spans the issues from the economy to global warming. We tax our corporations more than we need to, we refuse to level the playing field when it comes to trade, we continue to buy into bogus, so-called “scientific consensus” on Global Warming–or, as they call it in sub-freezing Europe, “Global Climate Change”–and consider federal mandates which would hamper our industry and economy with only negligible environmental returns. We, as Americans, need to find our constitution and stand up to those in government that believe in letting America be surpassed by the likes of China and India, two countries that already lead the world in terms of pollution. We need to demand that the federal government quit meddling unnecessarily and unconstitutionally in the affairs of American business.

The federal government is not intended to be all things to all people. We hear of universal health care plans, federal plans for city evacuation, government standards for energy efficiency, and we begin to become numb to it all. We need less government, not more. That concept alone is the essence of conservatism, and the greatest hope for America.

We as Americans need to open our ears and eyes, find our constitution, and stand up for our beliefs, our ideals, and our country. If we do not, if we choose to continue slogging through life with our faces buried in People Magazine and, if we choose to continue allowing the mainstream media to spoon-feed us their New York Times editorial board-set agenda, we will quickly pass into an age when the government truly works at the expense of the people, and when the fundamental rights secured by our Creator are suddenly subject to the ebb and flow of politics, or maybe not there at all.

I sat today in front of Independence Hall, staring across the street at the tourists shuffling past the Liberty Bell, and I wondered what our founding fathers would think of the American populace. I couldn’t help but think that they would be alarmed at just how apathetic we have become. Here were men who fought hard and sacrificed greatly for the sake of freedom, and so many in the country that they established choose to forget the fight and sacrifice, and instead take the freedom afforded by it for granted.

Wake up, people. The fate of this country, if you so choose, can be in your hands. Find your constitution, people.

You can start by reading ours.



  1. tigereye313 says:

    Jeff, that’s quite possibly the best post yet. Keep ‘em coming!

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