The Founders’ Intent
"The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government, lest it come to dominate our lives and interest"- Patrick Henry
This, in a "nutshell", is how Republicans view and interpret the Constitution. We in the United States are NOT a democracy, but a constitutional republic where democracy plays a vital but not dominating role. If we were strictly a democracy, at any point in time 51% could trample the rights of 49%. In other words we would have "mob rule" as Thomas Jefferson put it.
In regards to freedom of religion the founding fathers were quite clear: "Congress shall make no laws respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof". We are guaranteed freedom of religion - NOT freedom from religion. With the holiday season upon us, the ACLU and the Democratic left will launch attacks on the freedom to display religious symbols such as nativity scenes and menorahs on court house lawns and in other public venues. The Christmas tree will be renamed a holiday tree, if allowed at all, and somewhere, there is an atheist waiting to be offended by a shopping mall Santa. Thomas Jefferson once said "God gave us liberty - can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that those liberties are the gift of God". Sorry Mr. President but we are a Judeo-Christian nation. Our laws are based on and predicated by the belief our rights come from God and not the government. For if it is government from which our rights come, that same government can and will take them away. It is truly a sad commentary on our society when God and Santa are banned from the school but the "morning-after" pill is being handed out to our children.
Speaking of Santa - he has the right to be armed. He has the right to defend his home and his reindeer. The second amendment unequivocally states that "… the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." Every time some "whack-job" goes on a shooting spree, the left and this administration scream for more gun laws. As it stands, there are plenty, if not too many restrictions on law abiding gun owners. Norway has some of the strictest gun laws in the world but that didn’t stop a maniac from killing 77 innocent people and wounding many more last year. It is a well-known fact that we have an obesity problem in this country. By using the same logic as the anti-gun lobby, perhaps we should ban spoons and forks! Some on the left will argue the founders didn’t anticipate the weapons of today or the culture of violence that impacts our daily lives as evidenced by the reports on the CNN or Fox. The founders knew that it was not only the criminal element that was a threat to our lives and liberty, but the government itself could jeopardize our very way of life. "Disarm the people - that is the best and most effective way to enslave them." – James Madison
The tenth amendment to the Constitution specifically states that "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." This is the basis for what is known as state sovereignty. The Constitution states in the eighteen enumerated powers exactly what Congress, the President and our Courts may legally do. If a branch of our government steps outside these boundaries, they are clearly in violation of the Constitution. Thomas Jefferson gave his reasoning for a limited federal government, "The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second [the government] down with the chains of the Constitution so the second [the government] will not become the legalized version of the first [a criminal]." James Madison, another Founder and proponent of a strong Federal government, said "I cannot undertake to lay my finger on the article of the Constitution which grants a right to Congress of expending, on the objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents." Even Madison, a man who was in favor of a more powerful central government, still believed that Congress must "play by the rules".
As Benjamin Franklin left the Constitutional Convention in September of 1787, he was asked by a Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia, "Well Doctor, what have we got," to which he responded "We have founded for you a republic, if you can keep it." That statement resonates just as loudly today as it did 225 years ago. When we read the Constitution, we must read it for what it says, not what a few on the left want it to say. The Constitution is not, as some on the left have called it "A living document" – it does not adapt to the whims of a few elite politicians. It is the framework for our government – a set of rules by which we must all abide. As citizens of this great nation, it is our responsibility to elect leaders that will adhere to the rule of law - leaders that will follow the Constitution. When we ignore this responsibility, when we continue to elect people who consider our Constitution no more than a pamphlet, we run the risk of losing this great Republic.
I have always considered myself an Independent when it comes to voting. Given the current political climate, however, I find myself aligned with the Democrats on almost every issue. For example:
FREEDOM OF RELIGION: The framers of the US Constitution were visionaries setting forth broad principles to define our most fundamental freedoms in general terms. Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike support the concept of Freedom of Religion. But that seems to be where the similarities end. The Republican Platform denounces "religious intolerance" but then erroneously declares America to be a Judeo-Christian nation; the Democratic Party Platform recognizes the value all faiths as being central to the American story.
We are not a country based solely on Judeo-Christianity, but a myriad of Christians, Hindus, Deists, Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, Spiritualists, Humanists and many other religions, faiths and beliefs. James Madison has been called the Father of the Constitution but he professed to be a Deist – not a Christian. Other leading Founding Fathers were thought to believe in "theistic rationalism", a hybrid of natural religion, Christianity and rationalism, in which rationalism is the predominant element. The diversity in beliefs held by our Founding Fathers is precisely why the 1
Radical factions can be found in any segment of society and we should not judge the whole of any religion or assemblage based upon the actions of the few. Condemning all Americans for the bigoted, incendiary anti-Islamic video that spurred the recent violent protests in the Middle East is just one tragic example of the consequences of such inclusiveness. The most recent information from the Pew Research Center indicates that more than 20% of the US population is non-Christian or unaffiliated with any structured religion. It is generally accepted that the core principle of all religions, faiths and/or moral conscience is love. (William-Webster (4.a) defines love as unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another) Does it matter, then, in what tradition or manner we express that basic virtue? Disavowing approximately 63 million people by identifying America only as Judeo-Christian does not constitute acceptance or even "tolerance" in my opinion. I raise this issue not out of any lack of allegiance to my Protestant upbringing but as a matter of equity.
RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS: As a part of my "inalienable rights", I confess, I am a gun owner. That said, the Right to Bear Arms as conferred by the 2
STATES’ RIGHTS: The issue of State’s Rights is difficult for me to address in that I am not a native of Texas and, even though I have lived here for some 15 years, I do not fully understand the unique status of having once been a Republic rather than a Territory. What I can speak to (and what is probably evident in the foregoing discussion) is my belief that an umbrella of national standards should be established on all issues of commonality. No state should pass laws that interfere with the Federal Government’s regulation and enforcement processes. In this age of increasing mobility, the non-portability of marital status, professional licensing, insurance sales, firearms purchasing, etc., compounds societal and economic problems.
Our future as a nation would look more optimistic if we were, in all ways, a MORE UNITED States of America.
st Amendment to the Constitution was adopted and why, without complete separation of church and state that is implicit in that Amendment, protection of religious freedom is not possible. Strict compliance with the separation of church and state was a frequent speaking theme of Thomas Jefferson. In further evidence of that tenet, the Treaty of Tripoli, as ratified by the U.S. Senate in 1797, professed that "As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion……." John F. Kennedy’s public address on Sept. 12, 1960 (http://uspolitics.about.com/od/speeches/ calling for "an America where the separation of church and state is absolute……where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials….where religious intolerance will someday end…." is as relevant today as it was then. nd Amendment does not come without responsibility. When I first began this article, I was rigid in my attitude regarding gun control. As I sought out additional information and opinions to substantiate my position, my convictions have both dissolved and evolved. In contrast with the GOP Platform which promotes recidivism, the TX Democratic Platform calls for many laudable measures to support and help strengthen existing laws and programs to reduce the use of firearms in crime. However, the Platform doesn’t fully address the adage that "guns don’t kill people, people kill people". Despite my limited exposure to gun laws, I believe that comprehensive, standardized national laws should be enacted (to be administered by the states) that would license gun users in the same manner as motor vehicle drivers. There seems to be a tendency of the unarmed public to lump all gun owners into the same barbarous category. Requiring individuals to demonstrate their skills by passing a practical and written firearm examine and becoming "licensed" would lessen some of that misconception by separating law-abiding hunters, gun sports enthusiasts and homeowners/individuals possessing guns for self-protection from the "unlawful" element. Licensees could be rated according to need and skill level similar to drivers’ license categories (i.e. CDL, motorcycle, etc); restrictions for sight impairment noted; and so on. Separate from and complimentary to NFA firearms provisions, possessing a valid photo gun handlers’ license could streamline the purchasing of firearms, ammunition and accessories. (background checks, etc. should be required for initial licensing and a universal website/application could provide current status/restrictions) Requiring a license for purchases could alleviate some of the concern over sales made at gun shows. Firearms would have a "trail of title" from manufacturer to end purchaser. At the time of issuance, licensees should be required to register the firearms currently in their ownership and transfer "title" when sold or given away. Similarly, a firearm reported as stolen to law enforcement would protect the registered owner from any subsequent use in illegal activities. The sale of automatic weapons is regulated by NFA but laws should be enacted to limit the use of automatic weapons and extended magazines exclusively at certified ranges, gun clubs, shooting competitions or "other locations permitted by law". While no laws can fully abrogate gun violence in the United States, expanded standardized licensing and registering would go a long way to separate the responsible among us from the rabble. In addition to assisting law enforcement in providing greater public safety, this could boost the economy by encouraging the growth of certified gun clubs, shooting ranges, etc. that offer instruction, target practice and/or license testing. When I hear gun fire during (or not) hunting season, it would be reassuring if I could assume the teenager from down the street or the first time hunter out from "the big city" has acquired a degree of competence by successfully obtaining a gun handlers’ license. Hopefully, the shooter will also know the difference between a doe and my dunn mare. In 2010, there were approximately 31,500 deaths from firearms. We must find a means to significantly reduce that number and I am willing to give up a certain amount of anonymity if it will help do so.