I did not celebrate Constitution Day September 17, primarily because I did not know how to do so. The Federal Government requires the college where I work to do something on that day to qualify for it’s Title IV grant for which, if people really read the document, they would find no authority.
I was asked to give suggestions. The assigned administrator and I pondered several options, none of which seemed fitting or particularly meaningful. Still, we should do something; ignorance on this document is appalling and patriotism from those under 25 seems virtually dead. Even the president was filmed recently with his hands to his side during the playing of the national anthem, expressing total ignorance, total disrespect, or both (see the video on LibertyUnderFire.org).
Nearly no one reads this document anymore. Republicans only give lip service to it, and Democrats don’t even pretend to do that much. So how shall we celebrate Constitution Day? Should we celebrate the total disregard of the list in Article I, Section 8 from which the government is limited in making laws?
The Founders created the list so that government could not rule wherever it pleased as in other countries. Perhaps we could talk about the 10th Amendment, which strengthens the argument that all powers not specifically mentioned remain with the states and with the people. This is flagrantly violated almost daily by a renegade, inept, or ignorant congress.
Perhaps we should celebrate the separation of powers created by the Founders where one branch made the law, another enforced the law, and yet a third adjudicated the law—a separation that we used to honor. However, we would also have to acknowledge how the government has corrupted that separation. For the last three generations an unelected bureaucracy made most federal laws because Congress got lazy. They skirt around it by calling them “rules and regulations” instead of laws, but they still exact a punishment if a business or individual is out of harmony.
Presidents make law by executive orders, many with no legislative authorization. “Signing Statements”, popularized by the Bush Administration, distort laws passed by Congress by removing portions he disagreed with. The Obama Administration created a new level of administrators he called “Czars” (purposely skirting Senate confirmation) to manage areas where no Constitutional authority exists—last count was 34.
To all of this Congress remains silent to the abduction of her power. The Supreme Court also makes laws by ruling in such a way as to give existing law new meaning. Even Clarence Thomas admitted that some justices attempt to ascertain what the Founder had in mind before ruling; others he says, “just make it up.” This certainly would be an interesting presentation for Constitution Day.
Maybe we could celebrate the concept of federalism, the notion that the states handle domestic issues and the federal government handles primarily foreign issues and that they are coequal (like a marriage) neither being master or slave to the other; but this is gone. Perhaps we could celebrate the Constitutional mandate Article V that federal empowerment required the consent of 3/4ths of the states. Unfortunately, this notion of shared and equal was abandoned in the fifties and sixties, and as a result the federal government clearly rules the states; all but Arizona bow in near total obedience.
There are so many other topics one might “celebrate”, such as the distortion of the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution from an intended individual right to have a weapon, whether government approved or not, to only a collective right through a militia now interpreted as the National Guard which organization did not then exist.
The Constitution is a foreign language to most and this ignorance has resulted in our being out of harmony so long. The perversions are almost numberless. Perhaps we could celebrate Constitution Day by bussing in an assemblage of elected officials assigned to tell us how they are going to return us to the Constitution before it is too late. But how do we keep them from just giving lip service to the document instead giving self-serving speeches? Check with me next September 17. We will do something in honor of the Constitution because it is mandated; but will it be meaningful?