Celebrate Constitution Day
By Henry Lamb
Is your child's school planning a special celebration of the U.S. Constitution? It should. Federal law requires every school that receives federal funds to provide an educational program about the U.S. Constitution during the week of September 17th. Every parent should call the school their child attends and ask if such a program is planned. If no such program is planned, then each parent should ask why, and offer to provide an educational video to help the school meet its obligation.
A preview of this video, "A More Perfect Union" (3:10), is available here. This feature-length film is a dramatization of how the U.S. Constitution was created out of the political chaos that followed the Declaration of Independence. This masterpiece earned the seal of approval of the Bicentennial Commission, and should be seen by every American. On the same DVD with the full movie presentation, there are several educational segments designed especially for classroom use that feature specific issues addressed in the Constitutional process. Lesson one (27:19) can be viewed here. This DVD and related educational materials are available here, and here.
It is essential that every generation discover anew the principles of freedom that are enshrined in our Constitution. The idea that government is empowered by the consent of the governed is given meaning by the limitations placed on the federal government by Article one of the Constitution. Although the current President believes that the Constitution is a flawed document, it created the best system of government ever devised by man.
Since the day it was ratified, however, there has been a constant stream of opposition, attempting to destroy what the founders constructed in 1787. Barack Obama is not the only President to ignore the Constitutional limitations on the federal government. Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt also worked to circumvent what they saw as flaws in the Constitution.
Wilson, and his Progressive colleagues, struck the most damaging blow to the Constitution in 1913, by promoting and succeeding in getting the 17th Amendment ratified. This is the Amendment that forever banished the states from participating in the federal government.
As the movie, "A More Perfect Union," makes perfectly clear, the most important issue to be resolved in the writing of the Constitution was the balance of power between the state governments and the new federal government. The founders spent nearly half of the entire convention time debating this issue. Finally, they agreed that the perfect balance would be reached by allowing the representatives to the lower legislative chamber to be elected by the people every two years. The upper legislative chamber would be populated by representatives of the respective states, chosen by the state legislators. This arrangement would assure that the states have final say over every law, every international treaty, every cabinet or federal judge appointment, and the power to sit in judgment in all matters of impeachment.
For more than a century, this original design provided a balance that allowed the nation to grow and prosper as had no other nation in history. The power of the states to veto initiatives from the executive branch became a major irritant to the rapidly growing Progressive movement, which proclaimed that government should be far more involved in the affairs of its people than the Constitution allowed. Consequently, the Progressive movement championed the 17th Amendment. When it was ratified, state governments were completely removed from any representation in the federal government.
Since the day the 17th Amendment was ratified, the federal government has continued to expand its budget, its size, and its power – unchecked by the balancing power of the state governments that the founders built into the system.
For years, patriotic Americans who understand the wisdom of checks and balances the founders built into the system, have been trying to repeal the 17th Amendment. Progressives scorn the effort and ridicule the sponsors, claiming that such a move would create "back room political deals." Were there any truth to this claim, it certainly could be no worse that the "back room political deals" that occur during every election cycle. Check the campaign contributions to any Senator who has been in office more than one term, to see the amount of money given by out-of-state interests. The more powerful the Senator, the more out-of-state money is likely to be received.
A Senate elected by state legislators would be a monumental improvement. Anyone who disagrees with this assessment puts himself in the position of claiming a higher wisdom than George Washington, James Madison, Ben Franklin, and the rest of the founders. Only the most arrogant politicians would dare make such a claim.
It is essential that every generation understand and embrace the principles of freedom. Learning our Constitution is the best way to gain this understanding. Make sure that your child's school, and everyone that you know, has a chance to learn all they can about this wonderful document.