Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Our Constitution: “Living, Breathing” or a Standard of Liberty?



By KrisAnne Hall, Guest Columnist

When a woman asked Benjamin Franklin what kind of government had been created by he and the other gathered founders, Franklin famously replied, “A Republic, if you can keep it.”  One key to keeping that Republic exists in understanding how the Constitution was designed to function.

The Constitution of these United States is not arbitrary.   It is a document of standards established to keep the GOVERNMENT from becoming arbitrary.  These standards were not invented by the men who created the document.  These standards were axiomatic truths that had proven themselves for over a millennium. Many of these truths can be found in five historic liberty charters, the very charters that gave birth to America’s founding documents. The US Constitution is not an invention. It is an inheritance.  Those who claim that America’s Constitution is vague, arbitrary or even irrelevant do so because they are uneducated about where our Constitution came from and why it was formed.  

The US Constitution and the government it created are designed to protect Liberty.  This purpose is declared in the Declaration of Independence and recorded in the Pre-amble to the Constitution. The Bill of Rights (the 1st 10 amendments) was incorporated into the Constitution to trigger an alarm when this liberty is being threatened.  And yet, nothing in any of these three documents is an invention of the men who wrote them.  Everything, every principle of government, every security to Liberty and even at times the very language itself was taken from lessons learned during more than 700 years of history and from five essential Liberty Charters.  It is this history that proves the Constitution is not an arbitrary, “living, breathing” document, but rather one designed from blood-bought lessons learned during the historic struggle between liberty and tyranny.

Once this history is understood, today’s oft-repeated claim that the Constitution is irrelevant falls away and we begin to see not only how the Constitution is designed to limit government and preserve Liberty, but why we must adhere to this standard.  The “living, breathing document” deception can only exist by eliminating these historical truths and isolating men from their own history.

Originalism, or original intent, means looking at the history that gave us our founding principles and realizing why they are important; it means understanding the Constitution in its historical context. This is the only way to ensure that this government operates to preserve the essential principles of liberty. For to ignore the origin of our constitutional principles is to invite the same threats that prompted the necessity of their creation.  To throw off the lessons of history invites despotism and inequality, apathy and corruption, slavery and oppression.

Originalism is our shield against slavery, masters and oppressors.  Originalism not only understands these essential principles of liberty, but embraces them, with the full knowledge that Liberty was the stated goal of the designers of the Constitution.  Originalism is not only the correct legal way to apply the Constitution, it is the only way that guarantees and secures Liberty.

Originalism declares, “we don’t care what the mob says, we don’t care what the powerful say, we will ensure that all are treated equally with dignity.  We are not ruled by mob mentality, but by the principles of Liberty because we know our history.”

A “living breathing” constitution, however, is arbitrary.  It creates government that is dependent upon current social trends and the will of the powerful.  In many ways it is just another name for “Banana Republic.”  A living constitution allows those in government to claim that, since there were no cell phones in 1789, they have the right to arbitrarily control communications. A living constitution allows those in government to decide that since there was no Internet in 1789, they may define who is a journalist and what maybe said.

A living constitution gives power to the oppressor through interpretation by the powerful, the majority or the deceptive. It is a distortion history.  So if the majority or the powerful decides that one group of people deserve less or more protection, less or more property, less or more liberty, there is no recourse for the powerless or the minority.  A living, breathing constitution is slavery.

History and the Constitution are the fixed standards for government. If we forget this, we are left to be ruled by the powerful or at the whim of a majority which would distort history and truth.  If we don’t understand the essential principles of liberty and where they came from, we cannot evaluate and ensure that solutions to tyranny are proper and not tragic.  Some call these unseen consequences, but when you can see through the lenses of history you know that they are not unseen; they are proven facets of human nature. 

There is no magic pill.  History and truth tells us there is no quick fix.  If we truly want to make America great, we must reacquaint ourselves with some essential truths.  Without these foundational building blocks, we cannot achieve the successful ends we are all looking for and we continue to spin our wheels, haphazardly maneuvering government, sometimes to good ends, sometimes to destruction.  Our problem is that our policies are not driven by these foundational principles, but instead are driven by the phantoms of prosperity or security.

Our Constitution is not arbitrary and neither are the solutions.  They are time tested and essential.  The designers of our Constitution put these solutions in our hands.  It was the greatest gift they gave us…the opportunity for self-governance.  It’s time we remember who we are and the power that we hold.  I am convinced that reconnecting with this truth will reignite the lamp of liberty. Let’s learn from history so we will not be doomed to repeat its mistakes. Let’s stand for liberty today so our children will not have to bow tomorrow.

KrisAnne Hall is an attorney and former prosecutor. Hall hosts weekly radio and TV programs and teaches an average of 265 classes in over 22 States each year on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. KrisAnne is a disabled Army veteran, a Russian linguist, a mother, a pastor’s wife and a patriot. Learn more at krisannehall.com.

The Language of Liberty series is a collaborative effort of the Center for Self Governance (CSG) Administrative Team. CSG is a non-profit, non-partisan educational organization, dedicated to training citizens in applied civics. The authors include administrative staff, selected students, and guest columnists. The views expressed by the authors are their own and may not reflect the views of CSG. Contact them at CenterForSelfGovernance.com

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