The Wasatch Behind: Constitutional confusion
For the second or third time in as many months, my good buddy, Uncle Spud, has been misquoted in letters to the editor. Somehow, a few people have the idea that he said the constitution is a living document. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Spud and I made it clear that the constitution is not a living document in the Wasatch Behind on May 18, and we devoted a whole column to that fact on Feb. 10, 2009.
To quote from the 2009 column: "We're in big trouble," Uncle Spud sputtered as he slammed down the newspaper and reached for the Pepto-Bismol. "I just read that the constitution of the United States is a living, breathing document, subject to change as the world changes around it."
"What's wrong with that?" I asked.
"The constitution is a timeless document," he said. "It's the best blueprint for democratic government and individual human rights the world has ever seen. It's not supposed to be changed. It was never intended to be modified or adapted to conform to social evolution, philosophical trends, or political expediency."
Spud and I agree. The constitution is more than the supreme law of our land. It is the lifeblood of our nation. The constitution guarantees individual rights and sets limits on what government can do for us and to us. It is the framework of our freedoms and a shield and protection from oppressive government. It is a sacred document, set in stone for the ages that should never be modified or adapted without the due processes outlined in the document itself.
In fact, Spud and I believe the constitution was divinely inspired. To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, we believe America was founded to be a shining city on a hill that all of the world can look to for hope, help, and inspiration. We believe the founding of America lifted all of mankind to a new and higher level.
The constitution created a nation where people are free to pursue the dreams of their hearts and enjoy the rewards of their honest labors. After thousands of years of the tyranny of kings, the constitution guarantees individual rights and individual freedoms for all citizens. The ruling class was abolished. For the first time, equal justice and equal protection under the law were guaranteed by the law. The right to own personal property, the right to assemble, free speech and the right to have a free press are assured. Religious freedom, self-defense and self-determination are upheld as God-given rights beyond the powers granted by government.
America showed the world what happens when people are free. Our nation became the breadbasket and the industrial center of the entire world. People came here by the millions to partake of our bounty and participate in this great social and economic revolution of personal freedom.
With the freedoms guaranteed by the constitution, America has become the most prosperous and generous of nations. We have freely given of our treasure, might, mind and strength to help the developing world and give courage to freedom-loving people everywhere. Our armies have saved the world from tyranny and our political, military and economic influence has kept generations of foreign peoples free. We have become the world leader in science, art, medicine, architecture, agriculture, industrial know-how and innovation. Never has there been a nation like the United States of America.
The freedoms guaranteed by our constitution have made it all possible. That is why the constitution should never be discarded, ignored, or changed to satisfy social whims or political expediency. All that we are, all that we have, and all that we might yet become is built on the solid rock of the constitution.
So let us agree that the constitution is NOT a living, breathing document, subject to change as the world changes around it. The constitution is a timeless, God-inspired blueprint for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It has served us well for two hundred and twenty-three years.
Let us keep it as it is.