Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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A Document to Be Remembered for All Times

Res Publica

April 1994

by Susan L. Boyd

In this day of fast-paced business, politics, and society, I often wonder if many people truly know what the Constitution represents. Are our schools teaching children about America’s Founding and this great document we call the Constitution? Do people know the rights it protects and the powers it grants and does not grant to the national government?

Maybe what all Americans need at this point in history is to take a refresher course in American Constitutionalism. With the growth of big government in this century, it seems as though people look to big government to solve all of their problems. Instead of looking to churches and local charities, they now look to their state capitals, Capital Hill, and the White House. Today, government tries to give us everything from health care to extra money for having more children when our income is below a certain level. Has government become a baby-sitter and social program gift-giver rather than an institution to protect the rights of citizens? Americans must start standing up for themselves and help each other instead of turning to our government to solve every problem.

Nowhere does the Constitution say the government shall hand out free benefits and privileges to everyone. The Constitution created a country based on freedom and liberty. Its purpose was to outline the powers and duties of the government, which are to protect the rights of American citizens, not to pamper them. The ideal of the Constitution was meant to "form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity" (Preamble). Today the government and liberal politicians have taken these basic ideas of the Constitution and interpreted them to mean virtually anything that can be passed through Congress and signed in the Oval Office. We as U.S. citizens should fight this liberal interpretation of the document our Founding Fathers labored over for years. They devoted much of their energies and thoughts to framing the Constitution, which began in the preparations before the Convention and continued to the day it was finally ratified.

I often wonder what our founding fathers such as Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison would say if they came back from history and saw our government today. Would they wonder what happened to the Constitution? Would they wonder what happened to the Constitution? Would they wonder where the basic principles of a limited government have gone? Would they think all of their hard work had been done only to be forgotten and dismissed?

The Founders’ ideas may have been considered liberal during their time, but today the word "liberal" has taken on a whole new meaning. Liberalism during the Founding was associated with terms such as limited government, laissez-faire capitalism, and free society. Today liberalism has moved toward associations like government regulation of business, national health care and socialism.

Since the post-Civil War era, government has grown immensely. Hundreds of new offices, departments and bureaus now exist that would never have been dreamed of by the Founders. Roosevelt’s New Deal for instance, caused a huge leap in government involvement in virtually all aspects of American life. With the increase of a more liberal government, the American people have become too accustomed to handouts. Unfortunately, the term "free society" is regarded by some as "free wealth," courtesy of hard working tax payers.

Many Americans probably do not realize that Americans used to rely not on the government, but on churches and charities to help the less fortunate. Too many Americans today have allowed themselves to become dependent on government, rather than be independent and use the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution to achieve success and prosperity.

The original principle of limited government, which was desired by the Founders and echoed in the Constitution, must be upheld. The Constitution was not written to allow liberal politicians to interpret it as they wish. The principles of the Founding Fathers must not be forgotten, rather maintained and remembered. I hope that future generations will be educated about our great governing document, the Constitution. I hope they will remember the principles our Founding Fathers created in order to protect the liberty and freedom that American citizens are guaranteed. Let us not forget what the Constitution represents and for what it stands. The principles found in the Constitution should not be abused or liberalized. These principles must last for all generations.

Susan L. Boyd is a junior from Willard, OH and is majoring in Political Science and History.

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