We the People

Our Founders were clear on the role of government in 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.

We the People are the government. If our government is bad, it’s because We the People created it or were apathetic while someone else was participating. Demonizing the government is the same as demonizing We the People. Democracy allows that if we don’t like an aspect of governing, we can work to change it. Many times that work requires money, so the logic is that those with the most money can influence the government the most. What we have now with runaway campaign spending, unlimited corporate contributions, lobbyist domination, and media moguls is a case of money trouncing We the People (that is the real flesh and blood humans that populate the country).

The government exists to protect our rights as well as a whole host of other charges. The government seeks to establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure liberty for now and the future. These are the ideas our constitutionally limited, democratic republic are founded on and those in office should be held to.

I appreciate the comments being made in response to my post yesterday about being unemployed. It is hard for me to keep framing in mind, I want to support or dispute so many points that are made. I’d like to create some video at some point so that a real time debate can be posted and analyzed; as we all know, conversation can move very fast and doesn’t always go the way we want, it’s much different than just writing an opinion. One of the themes of a conservative commenter is that taxes = taking from the rich and giving to the poor, another is the statement that the government is only there to protect our rights. Those are the two points I’d like to address.

Taxes are the price you pay for living in a civilized society. Everyone pays taxes even if they do not pay income taxes. Proportionately, poor people pay more taxes because they are more likely to spend a greater percentage of their income on non-income taxes (like gas, sales, and usage taxes). Taxes provide for police, teachers, roads, libraries, energy consumption, food distribution, potable water, sewer services and tons of other benefits. These are the privileges of living in the US. We all benefit from the things that taxes provide for -especially businesses. Without taxes, I could just start smashing windows, hacking bank accounts, stealing, assaulting, and terrorizing at a whim and it would amount to the biggest bully winning everytime. Corporations especially benefit from government protection and provisions – how would we move goods around the country without interstate highways? How could they enforce any sort of proprietary information? Again, without taxes and government, we would regress to killing each other in a sort of tribalism – like Afghanistan.

I had to memorize the preamble to the Constitution in middle school, it is handy to remember when folks start talking about who’s doing what to the Constitution. The document is much more than a preamble, but the preamble sets the frame for the intention of the Founders.  Many people claiming that something is unconstitutional don’t actually know what they are talking about, perhaps they haven’t actually reviewed the document lately. Even in the executive branch, some “interpretations” seem to clearly skirt the law of the land.

Hop in your wayback machine, or if you’re too young for that, get ready for a retro treat -check out this awesome SchoolHouse Rock video that explains it so even my kids can understand.  The next time you hear or say that something is unconstitutional, look up exactly what you are talking about, or ask the person making the claim about which article/amendment they mean specifically. The “unconstitutional!” claim is being overused today and the effect is diluting the public understanding of what it actually means. I would be interested to hear what is unconstitutional that is going on in our country today.

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One thought on “We the People

  1. Luke Haskins says:

    My responce is far too long, I posted this a while ago, so if you have the time, feel free to check it out:

    http://debatesmylife.wordpress.com/2012/01/06/the-map-on-the-declaration-of-independence-part-1/
    http://debatesmylife.wordpress.com/2012/01/06/the-map-on-the-declaration-of-independence-part-2/

    If not, all of that is just an argument proving that the government is there to protect rights. It also includes how to view government logically from a Christian perspective for my Christian followers. If you are reading it, just focus on the passage of the Declaration of Independence in and of itself.

    The Constitution’s preamble, if you want to go into that, goes a little deeper about what some of the manifestation of that protection of laws looks like, but not quite so deeply as in the articles themselves. In order to form a more perfect Union, a greater nation, we do the following:

    – Establish Justice – Something to protect Life and Liberty in an applicable way.

    – Insure Domestic Tranquility – Protecting Liberty by pursuing justice, so that America doesn’t war against itself (think Civil War).

    – Provide For The Common Defence – George Washington said, “To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.” It goes hand in hand with the above manifestation. If people are upset at conservatives for going to war against Afghanistan, they probably should re-read the preamble.

    – Promote The General Welfare – This falls more in line with the pursuit of Happiness, the ability (promote, not insure) to have opportunity for well-being. By that word “promote,” though, I look at it as less of a securitization of rights, and more of a keeping of using that leadership to encourage the making of right choices.

    – Secure The Blessings Of Liberty – Pretty much straightforward.

    Taxes do need to be in the system, thank heavens that they are there. But raising them WAY too high gets us nowhere as a country and decreases competition. Seperating them into classes gets you into even more trouble, because it tries to equalize the wealth, no matter what consequences of actions are being ignored. As a Christian, I know that I am called to live as Christ did, and he did say to give the government what it demands of you. So the answer is not rebellion. The answer in a democratic republic that is ruled by the people is to fix the tax problems ourselves. To get our legislators to act, and to elect leaders who will make our over-taxation problems go away. That government is best which governs least, because the rest of it should really be up to the people in how they choose to live their lives.

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