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Constitution Day

  • What makes September 17th a day the American people should celebrate every year?
  • Is the Constitution of the United States relevant anymore?
  • Today, we should not only remember the Constitution, it’s purpose as well.

On September 17, 1787, the members of the Continental Congress signed the Constitution for the United States of America and sent it to the states for ratification. If I were to review the “State of the Constitution” in 2021, I would have to say it is not good, not good at all. While this Constitution for the United States is the oldest national constitution in the world, second only to the Constitution of Massachusetts in age, decades of ignorance and apathy by the American people has reduced the supreme law of the land to an anachronism, a throwback to a time when rights, freedom, and liberty were important to them. Today, Americans seem more interested in being taken care of than actually exercising their rights. As a matter of fact, the American people have shown they no longer believe in unalienable rights, but only fulfilling their own narcissistic desires. Does this mean the Constitution is dead? Only if the American people allow it.

Our national anthem states that we are “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” That freedom is protected by the Constitutions of both our states and the United States. Yet the very documents designed to protect our freedoms are being ignored by almost everyone in our society today. Sure, it’s easy to point the finger and blame those in government, but those people were either elected by the people or work in an office created by those elected by the people. Businesses and corporations have been denying our rights for years, but we continue to support and do business with them. Worst of all, today even the American people have shown themselves prepared to deny the rights of their follow citizens. All it takes is a good fear-based propaganda campaign and the American people will turn on each other like staving animals on prey. It seems the American people have forgotten the admonition of President Kennedy:

So my fellow Americans: Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.

John F. Kennedy-Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961

Today, people don’t ask what they can do for their country or what they can do for the freedom of man. Now they not only ask what Washington, D.C. will do for them, but also demand government do for them what they should do for themselves. How can rights, liberty, and freedom survive in a country of subjects, surfs, and slaves to government? The answer is, it cannot. As Ronald Reagan said:

But freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didnt pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. The only way they can inherit the freedom we have known is if we fight for it, protect it, defend it and then hand it to them with the well thought lessons of how they in their lifetime must do the same. And if you and I dont do this, then you and I may well spend our sunset years telling our children and our childrens children what it once was like in America when men were free.

Ronald Reagan – “Encroaching Control”, March 30, 1961

The questions I have for the American people on this anniversary of the signing of the Constitution for the United States of America are: Will we fight for, protect, and defend freedom in America? Or will we find it too hard, too difficult, or just too much effort? Will we consign freedom to the trash bin of history, and explain to our children why it wasn’t worth fighting for? Or will we stand and fight, not just for our freedom, not just for our children’s freedom, but for everyone’s?

Preamble

If, as I believe, the Constitution for the United States is worth fighting for, then I suppose I should take some time to explain why. And I can think of no better place to start than the preamble to this document. A Preamble is an introductory statement, usually used to state the reason and intent of the document. So what does this introductory statement say is the reason for the Constitution for the United 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 defence, 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.

U.S. Constitution, Preamble

Let’s break this down. The opening and closing words tell us the who and the what of this Constitution:

We the People of the United States,… do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

U.S. Constitution, Preamble

We the People of the United States are the ones who ordained and established this Constitution. Since this Constitution created the federal government, including the legislative, executive, and judicial branches, that means We the People created that government. We did so through our states (Article VII), which we created through their own constitutions. And, as the Declaration of Independence states, we consented to this government’s just powers by ratifying the Constitution and its amendments. As Thomas Jefferson said:

[T]he constitutions of most of our states assert that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves, in all cases to which they think themselves competent, (as in electing their functionaries executive and legislative, and deciding by a jury of themselves, both fact and law, in all judiciary cases in which any fact is involved) or they may act by representatives, freely and equally chosen; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed; that they are entitled to freedom of person; freedom of religion; freedom of property; and freedom of the press.

 

Letter from Thomas Jefferson to John Cartwright, 5 June 1824

The American people have been brainwashed into believing that all power exists in government rather than in themselves. Perhaps that’s why we have become such a submissive and servile people. We were not taught that we created Congress, rather than the other way around. That we created the Presidency and the courts. That we created this government to serve us, not to rule over us. That, as President James A. Garfield said:

Now more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature … [I]f the next centennial does not find us a great nation…it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces.

President James A. Garfield

Yet today, we joke about the lies politicians tell and the promises we know they will never keep. We watch as those in Congress use their positions to get rich while taking the hard-earned livings of the American people like it was their money in the first place. We stand by while those in Congress continue to borrow against our children’s future and spend money they don’t have on programs they are not authorized to create, all while debasing the money in your wallet. All this while the American people accept the bribes from both Congress and the President for retirement, healthcare, provision for their daily needs, and protection from whatever boogeyman is currently on the loose. We forget that whatever Congress does, they do in our name and by our authority. We forget that we are not their servants, they are ours. As President Lincoln said:

The people — the people — are the rightful masters of both Congresses, and courts — not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert it.

Abraham Lincoln, [September 16-17, 1859] (Notes for Speech in Kansas and Ohio)

We the People, after creating this Frankenstein monster of a government and setting it loose on an unsuspecting world, now cower in fear of our creation, unwilling to stand and defend even our own selves against it.

Why did the framers of this union create this Constitution the way they did? What was the purpose that We the People had in mind when we ordained and established it?

in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,

U.S. Constitution, Preamble

We created the Constitution to do six things.

First, to “form a more perfect Union”. Our first union, under the Articles of Confederation, was badly flawed. More of a “friendly alliance” than a union, the United States of America had no separation of powers between the states and the central government, no provision for the central government to enact its duties, and no method of amending the agreement. So the first purpose of the Constitution was to make the union better.

Second, to “establish Justice”. Not the myriad of competing agendas that we refer to as justice today. Not “social justice”, “economic justices”, “racial justices”, ad nauseam. Just plain simple justice. As Noah Webster put it in his 1828 dictionary:

The virtue which consists in giving to every one what is his due; 

Justice, Websters 1828 Dictionary

Today, Americans seem more interested in promoting their own special interests above what is right and due to everyone else. The entire idea behind intersectionality, the grievance cultures, and the cancel culture today involves depriving others of what they are due and to promote the agenda of one group above another. In other words, to use the language of “justice” to deny justice to those we do not like.

Third, to “insure domestic Tranquility”. How has that been working out lately? Granted, the framers of the Constitution were more concerned about fighting between the states than the spate of domestic disturbances we’ve endured lately, but even that has failed. Today we have “blue states” boycotting “red states” because they don’t like some policy or another. We have states suing each other, not always for injustices done to them, but for laws they do not like. The tension between the coastal and rust-belt states, and what they euphemistically call “fly-over country”, is an example of the lack of domestic tranquility that the Constitution was meant to prevent.

Fourth, to “provide for the common defence”. More and more it seems that the only “common defense” this union will provide for is that of a particular ideology. The government created by this Constitution has abandoned border states to the influx of aliens breaking the laws the federal government created to enter this country. The government of the United States is now shipping these illegal aliens throughout the union, rather than defending the states from them. As George Washington warned us:

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism.

Washingtons Farewell Address 1796

This has led to the alternate defense from, then alliances with, those nations who have pledged to do us harm. It seems our “common defense” is now targeted more on political enemies than actually defending the citizens of this country.

Fifth, to “promote the general Welfare”. Congress was delegated specific powers to “promote the general welfare of the United States”. Instead, Congress has taken upon itself to determine what is best for every state, city, and even citizen, using the “general welfare clause” in Article I, Section 8, Clause 1 as the justification for their usurpation of power. Not to be outdone, The President and the federal courts have joined in to establish rules, regulations, and precedents to tell us what is in our best welfare. All of which destroys what is the last reason we created this Constitution.

Sixth, to “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity”. It seems almost all of what the government of the United States does today is designed to destroy the blessings of liberty, not secure them. What is this liberty we’re talking about?

Freedom from restraint, in a general sense, and applicable to the body, or to the will or mind. The body is at liberty when not confined; the will or mind is at liberty when not checked or controlled. A man enjoys liberty when no physical force operates to restrain his actions or volitions.

Liberty, Websters 1828 Dictionary

The government seems hellbent on telling the American people how to live their lives. Rather than allowing them to live at liberty, it uses physical force to control your actions, your volition, and your very way of thinking. While there has been an undercurrent of this totalitarian destruction of the blessing of liberty for decades, recent events have shown that the government of the United States doesn’t believe you should be trusted to live your life at liberty. They believe they have the moral, legal, and constitutional right to dictate to every American how to live, which is the very antithesis of liberty.

Conclusion

People ask me if the Constitution has failed. I say that the Constitution has not failed us, we have failed the Constitution. As the creators of government, it was our duty to oversee it and restrain it from going beyond its delegated powers. In this the American people have been an abysmal failure. Because we have become the home of the coward, unwilling to stand up to our creation, we have allowed America to become the land of the controlled. We have voluntarily given up our rights as citizens to become slaves to our ever-expanding governments. Yet even in this dark hour for rights, liberty, and freedom, the Constitution is still there to help us restore America to the land of the free and the home of the brave.

There is no position which depends on clearer principles, than that every act of a delegated authority, contrary to the tenor of the commission under which it is exercised, is void.

Alexander Hamilton, Federalist Papers #78

If Alexander Hamilton is correct, then it’s clear that an act of a delegated authority, contrary to the tenor of its commission, is void. That means the Constitution is the legal justification for the American people to look at their government and say “No!” All government actors are exercising a delegated authority. Remember the Declaration of Independence says that “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”. We not only created governments, we commissioned them with certain powers. So when someone in government acts contrary to the tenor of their commission, that act is void. That’s not just the opinion of Mr. Hamilton either, since it was confirmed by the Supreme Court in the case Marbury v. Madison.

Thus, the particular phraseology of the Constitution of the United States confirms and strengthens the principle, supposed to be essential to all written Constitutions, that a law repugnant to the Constitution is void, and that courts, as well as other departments, are bound by that instrument.

Marbury v. Madison Opinion

Even federal law recognizes the error of those in government infringing on the rights protected by the Constitution of the United States.

Whoever, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, willfully subjects any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States,… shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year,

18 U.S.C. §242

So yes, the state of the Constitution in America today is grim, but that’s because the American people have been educated into believing they have no power. It’s only when We the People realize that all power is inherent in them and that they are the rightful masters of government, will we have a chance of restoring liberty and justice for all.

The Constitution and laws of the United States provide the American people with everything we need to return this country to the land of the free. The only question is: Are we brave enough to do it?

——

Paul Engel founded The Constitution Study in 2014 to help everyday Americans read and study the Constitution. Author and speaker, Paul has spent more than 20 years studying and teaching about both the Bible and the U.S. Constitution. Freely admitting that he “learned more about our Constitution from School House Rock than in 12 years of public school” he proves that anyone can be a constitutional scholar. You can find his books on Amazon and Apple Books. You can also find his books, classes and other products at the Constitution Study website (https://constitutionstudy.com). You can reach him at paul@constitutionstudy.com