Today, the Constitution is Relevant
By Dr. Larry P. Arnn
The 4th of July cover article of Time magazine claims that the Constitution
As proof of its irrelevance, Time lists a dozen products of modern society
inconceivable to the framers, including antibiotics, "sexting," and
Medicare. The Constitution's only virtue, they say, is that it has many
meanings and thus leaves us able to do whatever we want to do.
But not everything has changed since 1787. When it comes to ordering society
under the rule of law, what is most important? Knowledge of "collateralized
debt obligations" or knowledge of human nature?
Here are a few things the framers did know something about: Religious
Freedom. Education. Tyranny. Friendship. Happiness. Sovereignty of the
The Constitution does not allow us to do whatever we want to do. In the
words of James Madison, the Constitution was framed out of the belief that
"it is the reason, alone, of the public, that ought to control and regulate
the government. The passions ought to be controlled and regulated by the
The genius of the Constitution lies in its having a definite meaning on the
fundamentals--that every individual has rights, that the people are
sovereign, and that the governmental powers must remain separated--while
leaving wide latitude to local government, or the people themselves, on
issues not specifically addressed in the Constitution.
The framers were no gods; the amendment procedure was included for good
reason. Yet for more than two centuries the United States has flourished in
a project long thought impossible: self-government.
Liberty. Equality. Self-government.
If the Fourth of July is a celebration of these things, it is a celebration
of the Constitution as much as the Declaration of Independence. No
constitution in history has proven itself more deeply committed to these
principles, and no nation has been more richly blessed in return.
The basic truth within the Constitution is that the government cannot have
limitless power, for the simple reason that government is made up of people.
A Constitution with no definite meaning gives free reign to the passions of
those people within and without the government. A Constitution with a
meaning honored and obeyed becomes a guardian of all people, for it sustains
a government that is strong within its defined powers but limited in order
to protect the liberty and equality of citizens.
Instead of scoffing at those Americans concerned that their federal
government has overrun its limits in the name of energy and modernity,
perhaps Time should consider what an American President said about the
principles of the Declaration and the Constitution on the 150th anniversary
of July 4th, 1776:
"It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since
1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us
a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very
well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning
can not be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that
is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If
governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that
is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If
anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in
which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the
time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the
people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to
progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more
ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers."
- Calvin Coolidge
July 5, 1926
Read the entirety of President Coolidge's "Speech on the Occasion of the One
Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the Declaration of
--I just thought I'd like to share this with you all! Hope you had a Great 4th of July and I hope your week goes by blissfully!
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