Constitution Day and political lip service

thidconstitution2sm.jpgSeptember 17 is officially “Constitution Day.” It was founded in 1997 by Louise Leigh, a lady who was concerned that Americans knew very little about the constitution. She was right. Very few Americans know what is contained in the constitution, what it was designed to do, and whose power it is supposed to limit. This was troubling to Leigh who said of the constitution, “it is the most unique government document in the history of mankind. It guarantees our freedom. It is unique in that the government doesn’t tell us what to do, we tell the government what to do.”

I appreciate Leigh’s passion for the constitution but disagree with her on one thing. Her statements about the constitution would be more accurate if she had said, “It is designed to guarantee our freedom. Our government is designed in a way that it doesn’t tell us what to do.” The constitution is the most highly praised and most widely ignored document in America (except for maybe the Bible).

Politicians will use Constitution Day to praise the wisdom of the founding fathers and the insight they used in drafting such a document. They will say our country is founded on the constitution — all while making plans to ignore it’s authority and govern beyond it’s limits. Don’t believe me? Then just take a look at a very small portion of the constitutional abuses here and here.

Thomas Jefferson is one of the founders often praised by the current crop of politicians — but they would not like his view of limited federal government at all. “Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare,” he said in a letter to Albert Gallatin. “But only those specifically enumerated [in the constitution].”

But we’ve fallen so far from a constitutional form of government that we not only accept an unlimited federal government — we actually expect it. Many Americans actually think the federal government should take care of our every need. Even worse, many Christians have no problem with the notion of the state as society’s savior.

Still don’t believe me?

Take a look at a couple of presidential candidates. Hillary Clinton is proposing a massive $100-billion-plus socialized health care program that will actually mandate individuals buy health insurance. John Edwards is proposing a similar plan that would force individuals to have wellness physician care — whether they want to or not. And Louise Leigh thought our government didn’t tell us what to do.

We debate these proposals as if they were legitimate, constitutionally authorized plans and they aren’t. But Americans are so ignorant of the constitution’s limitations that they don’t see the problem.

Need more evidence?

Okay, today we have exactly one congressman who recognizes the limitations on the federal government under the constitution and is willing to govern accordingly. His name is Ron Paul and he’s running for president. He advocates eliminating anything not specifically authorized by the constitution (kind of like what Thomas Jefferson was saying). Of all the presidential candidates he is the only one who recognizes the federal government has no authority for things like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Welfare. Yet, because of our gross ignorance of the constitution Ron Paul is considered the kook.

Happy Constitution Day.

Bumper sticker of the Day:

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About Chip
Chip is a graduate of Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, AR and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Memphis, TN. He served more than five years on the staff of the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana as Director of Communications and Public Relations, editor of the Indiana Baptist newsjournal, and regular contributor to the Baptist Press, the official news service of the Southern Baptist Convention. He currently earns his living as a writer. He serves his local church as a teacher and deacon and his local Baptist Association as a Seminary Extension instructor and supply preacher.

One Response to Constitution Day and political lip service

  1. Pingback: Constitution Day? Now what’s that? « Thideology

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