Get your political fix from an unrepentant political junkie.
June 4, 2015
Pulling out my handy, bound copy of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, I read how the Declaration articulates the American political philosophy and the U.S. Constitution proscribes the powers of the three branches of the central U.S. government. The Preamble includes the core purpose of the Constitution, which is to “provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” The Founders of the country and the authors of the Constitution were articulate and educated people and they scrupulously chose each word of both founding documents.
The verb choices in the Preamble to the Constitution are significant: providing for the common defense, the preeminent responsibility of the central government, does not mean common offense; promoting the general welfare does not mean bestowing, and securing the blessings of liberty does not mean granting.
As each generation evaluates the role of government and the responsibilities of citizenship, the interpretation of the country’s founding documents changes, much like that of The Holy Bible. In many ways, we have travelled off the path from the Founders’ intent. Whereas “common defence” is often interpreted as pro-active military action, accusations of isolationism and war-mongering are volleyed about like a shuttlecock. While we may debate the proper level of involvement in foreign conflicts, we agree that the Constitution empowers the U.S. to administer national defense from foreign and domestic threats. Much like with domestic violence, the police are empowered to protect one from the violence of another. The police are not empowered to protect us from ourselves and not wearing a seatbelt.
“General welfare” has been the seed of broad debate, but we seldom note of the word “promote.” To promote is not to dispense or take care of the general welfare of the people. To promote is to nourish, to build up. To take care of is to stifle. In co-dependent relationships, one person takes care of the other, rather than supports the growth of the other. The same principle applies to the relationship between government and citizen. With or without the government’s promotion, citizens are responsible for their own welfare. The Constitution calls on the government to encourage people to take care of themselves. A minimum wage stifles growth by providing rather than promoting. A universal basic income is infantilizing.
The premise that God grants us our liberties underpins the American political philosophy. Our Creator is the original author of our human rights. The U.S. Constitution secures and guarantees those rights, and protects us from a state that would attempt to violate our liberties. With the Bill of Rights, the Constitution secures an enumerated and specific, list of rights that the central government must not violate. Tragic to the cause of liberty, these rights are increasingly eroded.
In the past few years, free speech has been violated under the fallacious cause of sensitivity awareness. Political correctness has shrunk and diluted our vocabulary like a can of condensed water. Treating citizens as emotionally fragile children is not promoting the general welfare. It is belittlement of intelligent and resilient Americans.