Commentary: Lack of knowledge of Constitution imperils us all
Today Americans face daunting circumstances. We have no way to pay the monstrous debt that Congress has incurred without materially lowering our standard of living (via taxes and/or inflation). How did we get here? How do we get out?
Our founders provided a magnificent framework for government in the Constitution. But it has been largely compromised – even abandoned. We have moved from a republic to a democracy. This democracy has led to a culture where the populace competes to enrich themselves via the public treasury. This is a recipe for failure. As Margaret Thatcher said, “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of everyone else’s money.”
The Republicans support half of the Constitution, and want to change the other half. The Democrats are the same – just the other half. The result has been consistent debasement of our liberty and our rights all in the name of political compromise.
The Supreme Court is complicit to the extent that they have supported law being based not upon Constitution, but upon recent case law. This provides the basis for a slow deterioration of adherence to the fundamentals of the Constitution. We now have all kinds of law never allowed, or even anticipated by the drafters of the Constitution.
We hear from our courts and politicians that the Constitution is a living document, subject to interpretation for the times. Well, a “living” document that can change into something else might just as well be dead. We have seen the political powers reinterpret and twist the law to support their agendas. Circumventing the Constitution has led us to the point where our very liberty is imperiled.
The Constitution is the finest framework for government ever written. Yet our schools provide merely a superficial introduction. One hundred years ago it was intensely studied in school so that the citizens would appreciate it and support its preservation. Is that done now? No. Why? Because that does not fit the politician’s agenda.
I have no simple or quick solution. However, a good start would be demand that our schools teach the fundamentals of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights – especially the reasoning behind them. And we must apply these principals to the candidates running for office to determine whether we vote for them.
Both the Democrats and Republicans are the problem. Thomas Jefferson said, “To maintain the republic will require an informed and vigilant citizenry.” We are neither. But, we can become one. Start by reading the Constitution. Ask your friends to do the same. Failure to do so guarantees the end of liberty that made America the envy of the world.
• David Y. Cantwell is an executive vice president of Jones Lang LaSalle, an international commercial real estate firm. He lives in Genoa.