Commentary

Have Media and Political Tyrants Ever Heard of Constitution Day?

By Lathan Watts | September 17, 2021 | 5:17pm EDT
The American flag swirls in the wind. (Photo credit: Gary Hershorn/Getty Images)
The American flag swirls in the wind. (Photo credit: Gary Hershorn/Getty Images)

Sept. 17 is Constitution Day. This day deserves to be commemorated on a scale equal to July 4th. That it isn’t likely contributes to the knife’s edge between liberty and tyranny on which our nation is currently precariously balanced. 

On a nearly daily basis, our elected leaders are flaunting their disdain for the Constitution in the name of “protecting” us from ourselves.

Ours is the oldest surviving written constitution in the world. It’s an ingenious document crafted by some of the greatest minds of their generation. The glaring difference between our Founders and the self-styled elite of today is that our Founders trusted the American people to live in ordered liberty. Self-government as a nation begins with self-government by the individual.

The Founders had no delusions about the nature of man. We are imperfect and imperfectible. Knowing that freedom and morality are inextricably linked, they enshrined religious liberty in the First Amendment to preserve the proper role of religion in a free civil society – namely restraining our fallen human nature.

This sort of thinking is about as fashionable today as powdered wigs. Consider the recent dilettantish screed by Max Boot at the Washington Post. Boot lays the blame for all society’s ills at the feet of the Founders. He decries everything from equal state representation in the Senate to the Second Amendment protection of citizens’ rights to arms. He raises the obligatory cudgel of slavery but ignores the fact the amendment process put in place by the Founders ultimately outlawed the practice. According to Boot, the Constitution is an intractable impediment to well-intentioned government intervention into every aspect of life.

Newsflash, Max - that’s the point. This complete lack of unironic self-awareness could only be surpassed by the absurdity of a former bartender turned politician wearing a dress emblazoned with the slogan “tax the rich” to a $30,000.00 per ticket event which is such a gaudy celebration of wealth it resembles a scene from the capital in "The Hunger Games."

The Founders’ fundamental understanding of human nature led them to set human nature against itself to protect freedom. Establishing three separate and co-equal branches of government, the Constitution relies on each branch of government to zealously protect its own power and therefore act as a check on the other two. Today, we routinely see the legislative branch outsourcing its lawmaking authority to unelected bureaucrats in the administrative state. Elected officials in Congress and the White House are more than willing to let members of the federal judiciary from the U.S. Supreme Court on down, safely ensconced in lifetime appointments, make controversial social policy regarding a host of issues on which cowardly public servants in the elected branches are unwilling to take a stand. Neither political party has a monopoly on spineless politicians. A Shakespearean “pox on both their houses.”

Lest we fall prey to pointing out the speck in our politicians’ eyes before removing the plank in our own, “We The People” keep electing them. Too many of our fellow citizens have no idea what the Constitution says or requires. So, we base our votes on soundbites, Twitter feeds, and cable television acumen. We’ve accepted political gamesmanship as a paltry substitute for statesmanship. 

In the arena of religious liberty law, we see this constitutional ignorance play out nearly every day as hostile government actors restrain the free exercise of faith using the cover of the words “separation of church and state,” which of course, don’t actually appear in the Constitution.

The days of sending vacuous talking heads with good hair or a good hairpiece to do serious work must end. If we continue sending empty suits/pantsuits to Washington, we can expect similar results. To expect differently would fit the oldest definition of insanity.

No nation is perfect, but our Constitution isn’t the problem; it’s the solution.

The brilliance of the Constitution is the ultimate power being rooted in the American people. The day we truly realize it and, more importantly, act like it, will be a day worthy of celebration indeed.

Lathan Watts is Director of Public Affairs at First Liberty Institute, a non-profit law firm and think tank exclusively dedicated to defending religious liberty for all Americans.

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