ZeraLand, USA

On the Nature of "Nation"

Constitution of the United States – Preamble: secure Liberty


“secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity”

Securing the Blessings of Liberty in perpetuity requires diligence, perseverance, and activism.

“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”
– John Philpot Curran

It is not enough to haul out the words and dust them off in fits of irritation or defensive patriotism. People do not come out of nowhere to infringe or revoke a right or liberty. The average citizen does not have the time or resources to exercise complete vigilance alone.

The Free Press has been the designated primary watchdog of our liberty, but that segment of our society has been failing in it’s diligence. Watchdog organizations have emerged, but they lack penetration in the general public awareness.

We need a properly functioning Free Press to help preserve our Liberty. The catch is that it cannot be a government agency, nor can it be controlled by special interests seeking to distort the public perception – because it is just as important to be vigilant over the behavior of businesses and religious activism as it is to watch over government.

But vigilance is not enough.The Founding Fathers were well-educated. In developing our Constitution, they analyzed many governments – both past and contemporary – looking for the strengths that made governments successful, and weaknesses that let them fail.

Today, education is perhaps the most important function of state and local governments. Compulsory school attendance laws and the great expenditures for education both demonstrate our recognition of the importance of education to our democratic society. It is required in the performance of our most basic public responsibilities, even service in the armed forces. It is the very foundation of good citizenship. Today it is a principal instrument in awakening the child to cultural values, in preparing him for later professional training, and in helping him to adjust normally to his environment.
Brown v Board of Education

What is the purpose of education? This question agitates scholars, teachers, statesmen, every group, in fact, of thoughtful men and women. The conventional answer is the acquisition of knowledge, the reading of books, and the learning of facts. Perhaps because there are so many books and the branches of knowledge in which we can learn facts are so multitudinous today, we begin to hear more frequently that the function of education is to give children a desire to learn and to teach them how to use their minds and where to go to acquire facts when their curiosity is aroused. Even more all-embracing than this is the statement made not long ago, before a group of English headmasters, by the Archbishop of York, that “the true purpose of education is to produce citizens.”

If this is the goal—and in a democracy it would seem at least an important part of the ultimate achievement—then we must examine our educational system from a new point of view.
Eleanor Roosevelt

The role of the Citizen is paramount in a successful democracy – one that protects the liberties of its citizens. But this requires a well-educated citizen. One who understands the strengths and weaknesses of government, and the principles of good governance. A Citizen who is engaged in the political process.

<= general Welfare
Article I =>

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August 15, 2011 Posted by | Const. Review, Const. Second Reading, Constitution, Preamble | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Constitution of the United States – Preamble: promote general Welfare


“promote the general Welfare”

Promoting the general welfare of the country does not necessarily mean providing for the general welfare:

  • It means creating the conditions under which the general population – We the People – can prosper and flourish.
  • It means protecting the environment in which we live.
  • It means maintaining a stable and balanced economy that offers opportunity for all.
  • It means taking actions to ensure that the needs and necessities of all can be met, though not necessarily by the State directly.
  • It means to ensure that the People are treated fairly in commerce and employment.

However, Article I, section 8, clause 1 states: “The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States”

It sounds more socialist than anyone would care to admit, but I think that it illustrates the problem of semantic change when trying to make literal interpretation of something written in an earlier age.

So which is it, promote or provide? A bit of both, I believe. Promote whenever possible, provide when there is no alternative way of meeting a need of the general population.

<= provide common Defense
secure Liberty =>

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August 15, 2011 Posted by | Const. Review, Const. Second Reading, Constitution, Preamble | , , | Leave a comment

Constitution of the United States – Preamble: common Defense


“to provide for the common defence”

Such a simple idea, turned complicated as the populations of the world grow and technology becomes more capable and pervasive.

Common defense began as simply repelling invasion and protecting commercial shipping. The threats and responses were fairly simple and obvious.

Things have changed since then. The borders, once vague and distant to most citizens, are now well defined and significant in everyday life. The population of our country has grown to fill the once wide open spaces and stress once plentiful resources.

Where we once depended on the help of powerful allies, we have now become the powerful ally. The diplomacy of common defense has changed. Even the terminology has evolved, from common defense of individual States to national defense of a united country.

The art of warfare has changed dramatically with the ability to kill more efficiently and at greater distance than could have been imagined at our Founding.

No longer is it necessary to invade a country to do it harm. Weapons can be used from a great distance. A small few with potent weapons can cause the harm it once took armies to inflict.

Merely defending our borders is insufficient to the task of the common defense. As force can be projected from a distance, so must our defenses be projected beyond our borders. To do this requires the support of allies and the careful management of the balances of power and influence.

Thus, the national defense now encompasses the collection of Intelligence, the liberal use of Diplomacy, the projection of Military Strength, and the reluctant use of Military Force.

<= domestic tranquility
general Welfare =>

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August 15, 2011 Posted by | Const. Review, Const. Second Reading, Constitution, Preamble | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Constitution of the United States – Preamble: domestic Tranquility


“to insure domestic Tranquility”

Society works best when there is peace in the streets. When people do not fear for their lives or their property or their jobs or their rights, they are free to live and love and work and pursue their happiness as befits a citizen of a more perfect union. But domestic tranquility does not come easily, perhaps least of all in a country a diverse as ours.

E Pluribus Unum. From Many, One. The great theory of the Melting Pot has been the crucible in which this country has been formed. The need to work and live with those who had been traditional adversaries, overcoming differences and achieving understanding in the process, the establishment of equality and toleration, these things are milestones on the road to domestic Tranquility. These are things that the government must encourage.

<= establish Justice
common Defense =>

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August 15, 2011 Posted by | Const. Review, Const. Second Reading, Constitution, Preamble | , , , , | 1 Comment

Constitution of the United States – Preamble: establish Justice


“to establish Justice”

I think there are two aspects to justice as cited in the Constitution:

1. Direct establishment of Justice: A system of laws, courts, and enforcement covering federal law, Constitutional rights, and interstate issues. Overcoming the limitations of state jurisdiction is an important part of federal law enforcement.

2. Indirect establishment of Justice. To make sure that state laws and enforcement comply with the Constitution and federal laws.

The American system of Justice has been the envy of much of the world. Protecting the integrity of that system is critical to the success of the country.

Roosevelt and Bonaparte both were “Progressives.” They shared the conviction that efficiency and expertise, not political connections, should determine who could best serve in government. Theodore Roosevelt became President of the United States in 1901; four years later, he appointed Bonaparte to be Attorney General. In 1908, Bonaparte applied that Progressive philosophy to the Department of Justice by creating a corps of Special Agents. It had neither a name nor an officially designated leader other than the Attorney General. Yet, these former detectives and Secret Service men were the forerunners of the FBI.
History of the FBI

The Progressive Era saw a move from political to professional law enforcement, but in the 21st century that is being reversed by conservatives moving back to political enforcement. This is a trend that needs to be stopped.

<= more perfect Union
domestic Tranquility =>

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August 15, 2011 Posted by | Const. Review, Const. Second Reading, Constitution, Preamble | , , , , | Leave a comment

Constitution of the United States – Preamble: a more perfect Union


“To form a more perfect Union”

The Articles of Confederation that got us through the Revolutionary War proved to be a temporary arrangement, inadequate to the demands of the post-war nation.

With the weak federal government unable to force compliance from the states, individual states proved unwilling to honor requests of money to pay off the war debt. Other requests were likewise stalled or ignored. The states became contentiously competitive. The viability of the country came into question.

A strong federal government was needed to bring discipline, consistency, and even a sense of national identity to the country. A strong central government was necessary to keep the Union from falling apart. It was needed as a mechanism to enforce the Constitution.

The trick is to keep from crushing the sovereignty of the individual states.

The trick is to learn from the past so that we can improve in the future.

I like the phrase “more perfect”. Perfection implies that no change is necessary. By definition, perfection cannot be improved upon. But without change, you have stagnation, and stagnation leads to decay and ultimate failure. Authors have explored various possible utopias for centuries, and they all seem to end in failure. It is my view that the real utopia is not a destination. In my opinion, the real utopia is a culture that continues to work to improve.

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
Ulysses, Sir Alfred, Lord Tennyson

<= Preamble
establish Justice =>

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August 15, 2011 Posted by | Const. Review, Const. Second Reading, Constitution, Preamble | , , , , | Leave a comment

Constitution of the United States – Preamble


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.

Preamble: an introductory statement; especially : the introductory part of a constitution or statute that usually states the reasons for and intent of the law.

And what are the reasons and intents? In Order to:

> form a more perfect Union

More perfect, not completely perfect:

utopia

  1. : an imaginary and indefinitely remote place
  2. often capitalized : a place of ideal perfection especially in laws, government, and social conditions
  3. : an impractical scheme for social improvement

> establish Justice

Justice:

  • the maintenance or administration of what is just especially by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited rewards or punishments.

> insure domestic Tranquility

Tranquil:

  • a : free from agitation of mind or spirit
  • b : free from disturbance or turmoil

> provide for the common defence

defense:

    • a : the act or action of defending
    • b : a defendant’s denial, answer, or plea
    • a : capability of resisting attack
    • b : defensive play or ability
    • a : means or method of defending or protecting oneself, one’s team, or another; also : a defensive structure
    • b : an argument in support or justification
    • c : the collected facts and method adopted by a defendant to protect and defend against a plaintiff’s action
    • d : a sequence of moves available in chess to the second player in the opening
    • a : a defending party or group (as in a court of law)
    • b : a defensive team
  1. : the military and industrial aggregate that authorizes and supervises arms production

> promote the general Welfare

Welfare:

  • the state of doing well especially in respect to good fortune, happiness, well-being, or prosperity.

> secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity

Liberty:

  1. the quality or state of being free:
    • a : the power to do as one pleases
    • b : freedom from physical restraint
    • c : freedom from arbitrary or despotic control
    • d : the positive enjoyment of various social, political, or economic rights and privileges
    • e : the power of choice
  2. a : a right or immunity enjoyed by prescription or by grant : privilege

While the body of the Constitution defines the structure, authorities, and parameters of government, the preamble defines the purpose and responsibilities of that government.

<= A Forward
more perfect Union =>

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August 15, 2011 Posted by | Const. First Reading, Const. Review, Const. Second Reading | , , , | 1 Comment

Constitution of the United States – A Forward


English: Detail of Preamble to Constitution of...

Eleven years after the Declaration of Independence announced the birth of the United States, the survival of the young country seemed in doubt. The War for Independence had been won, but economic depression, social unrest, interstate rivalries, and foreign intrigue appeared to be unraveling the fragile confederation. In early 1787, Congress called for a special convention of all the states to revise the Articles of Confederation. On September 17, 1787, after four months of secret meetings, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention emerged from their Philadelphia meetingroom with an entirely new plan of government–the U.S. Constitution–that they hoped would ensure the survival of the experiment they had launched in 1776.

They proposed a strong central government made up of three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial; each would be perpetually restrained by a sophisticated set of checks and balances. They reached compromises on the issue of slavery that left its final resolution to future generations. As for ratification, they devised a procedure that maximized the odds: the Constitution would be enacted when it was ratified by nine, not thirteen, states. The Framers knew they had not created a perfect plan, but it could be revised. The Constitution has been amended twenty-seven times and stands today as the longest-lasting written constitution in the world.

On September 17, 1787, two days after the final vote, the delegates signed the engrossed parchment shown in the Rotunda’s centerpiece case.

The National Archives

The Constitution of the United States, and it’s Amendments, are the foundation of our laws and what defines us as a nation – but what does it say, and what does it mean?

Let’s take a look, section by section…

Preamble =>

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August 15, 2011 Posted by | Const. Review, Const. Second Reading, Constitution | , , | 1 Comment

   

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