On Constitution Day: We the People Still Rule

“To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race.” – Calvin Coolidge

On September 17th Americans commemorate the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution of the United States, one of the greatest political documents conceived by the mind of man.

On “Constitution Day,” we will remember the birth of a nation dedicated to the preservation of personal liberty, political freedom, economic opportunity, and the natural rights with which we are all endowed. 

The Constitution is the supreme law of the land. Empowered with the sovereign authority of the people and the consent of the legislatures of the states, it is the source of all government powers, and provides important limitations on government that protect fundamental rights of citizens.

The Constitution creates the structure of our federal government and the rules for its operation consistent with the statement of human liberty proclaimed in Thomas Jefferson’s revolutionary document, the Declaration of Independence. In 1776, as today, the Declaration establishes a new basis of political legitimacy: the sovereignty of “We the People.”

Jefferson said the Declaration was intended to be an expression of the American mind. The rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” are essential to live as free people. These rights are found in eternal “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.”

The Declaration provides the philosophical basis for a government that exercises legitimate power by consent of the governed, and it defines the conditions of a free people, whose rights and liberty are derived from their Creator.

The Preamble to the Constitution contains what may be the most important three words in our nation’s history: “We the People.” These three words are often considered the strongest link between the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

The Preamble incorporates the Founders’ vision that the rights and freedoms bestowed by the Constitution belong to all citizens and confirms its purpose to protect the nation’s rights to liberty, justice, and freedom from tyrannical government.

The Constitution limits the power of the government by establishing a system of checks and balances. The first ten amendments to the Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights, and subsequent amendments, either impose restrictions on government interference with certain enumerated rights, or grant new liberties and individual freedoms to each American.

By dispersing power horizontally among the three separate branches of the national government and vertically between the national government and states, the Framers devised a structure of government strong enough to ensure the nation’s future prosperity but without sufficient power to threaten the people’s liberty.

Although it was adopted more than two centuries ago, the Constitution is just as important today because it places the government’s power in the hands of its citizens, setting forth matters decided by the federal government and matters left to the states.

Our Constitution also enshrines the principle that government exists to protect the rights of all Americans, and has no legitimate power to deprive any citizen of their rights without due process of law.

In a country as large as the United States, it is impossible for any government official or agency to know all that is necessary to ensure the safety and happiness of the people. Our Constitution recognizes this certain limitation and guarantees the principles of individual liberty, limited government, and federalism.

The principles of individual liberty and limited government mean that there are certain areas of human activity that belong to individuals which government should leave alone because no just government should have power over those areas or government could not effectively make those decisions.

The principle of federalism says that the people in the states should govern themselves, but our national government should have the power to do things that states could not do on their own like provide a common defense, regulate a national currency, and facilitate commerce between the states.

Over the last several decades, our country has moved away from the founding principles. The ever-expanding federal government is intervening into more and more aspects of our lives and is reducing our personal freedoms in the process.

Government at all levels is engaged in activities that were once left to private individuals and groups, and the federal government is exercising authority over matters that were once the province of state and local governments where there is greater accountability to the public. 

Because of these incursions, our country stands at a dangerous crossroads, the likes of which were feared by our Founders. One road follows the path of liberty set by the Framers of the Constitution and the other one diverges from that path and leads down the road to tyranny.

In our country today, we have a class of dedicated leftist elites committed to destroying the Constitution and building a government so big that eventually “We the People” will be unable to fight back against the loss of freedom.

This group of leftists is made up of politicians who recognize no limits to their power, and their activist allies in the media, Hollywood, the judiciary, and academia, who have been working to undermine our constitutional order.

They welcome a tyranny of elites who govern as they see fit without being checked by what they view as an anachronistic document. This same group of leftists uses identity politics to divide Americans and expand the power of government.

Fortunately, there is a growing movement throughout America to reinvigorate the tree of liberty. There is a revival among American patriots, people who recognize the importance of preserving the Constitution as it was intended, to protect our God-given rights, and to prevent our government from becoming tyrannical.

Ronald Reagan once said: “Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people. Those who have known freedom and lost it have never known it again.”

Reagan had it right. Intrinsic to the story of our Constitution is the premise that the freedom of a nation can only be secured by citizens with firm conviction who understand their rights and liberties and will actively defend them. The preservation of our freedom is a daily battle, something the Founders understood.

The process of scaling back the size of government and returning it to its proper constitutional restraints will be a long haul. But, since the federal government is supposed to be our servant and not our master, citizens should not shirk from this important endeavor.

On Constitution Day, as American patriots, let us rededicate ourselves to secure the blessings of liberty by working to defend, protect, and preserve our Constitution.