The Importance Of Being A Constitutionalist
April 20, 2020
I’ve been quoted in the press more than once now saying, “that’s not constitutional!”. What do I mean, and why is it important? Constitutionalism is defined by Wikipedia as “a compound of ideas, attitudes, and patterns of behavior
elaborating the principle that the authority of government derives from and is limited by a body of fundamental law.”
Which means, that government has no authority except that granted to it by its citizens, and only on the matters listed.
As citizens, we consent to be “governed” by “government” meaning we are ceding part of our rights to this entity we’re dubbing “government.” But we don’t give it complete control. We give our consent to be governed by an agreed upon set of rules – The Constitution. It’s important that the citizens know what the Constitution says. It starts in the 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 defense, 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.
It defines why we’re doing it – to live together in harmony, to define what justice means to us, to defend our land and let us live our lives fully namely to liberty.
The Constitution then goes on to define the rules that “we the people” are agreeing to as outlined in “The Articles” of the Constitution. It’s the original document that our Founding Fathers agreed for us all to live by. It’s important not only for the definition of the things that we’ve agreed to let someone else (our government) decide for us (as defined by our Founding Fathers) – but also because it also delineates the line beyond what we’ve agreed for them to decide for us. Most of the time when you hear someone say “that’s unconstitutional” what it means is that government has overreached and is exceeding its mandate and had no authority to decide that matter for us. We haven’t given them permission to decide that for us.
One big issue today because of the pandemic is whether or not we should be required to wear face masks. Part of the government claims that it’s the only way to live safely right now, but others now claim that it doesn’t really protect us. So do we have the right to individually make the decisions ourselves or should society have the power to force compliance. That’s a simplistic example of a much more complicated discussion, but fundamentally it’s a defense of individual citizen’s rights against government overreach. I personally prefer smaller government that has not been giving the right to interfere except where defined by our Founding Fathers in the Constitution. There are those particularly in our country’s current culture who believe that the government should have broad powers (way beyond what’s defined in the Constitution) to dictate to its citizens life choices. You must pay for health insurance even if it’s beyond what your budget can afford and may not be delivering any personal value to you. You must wash your hands often; a smart admonition, but truly should your government be requiring you to do it? You may not accompany your loved ones into the hospital. All three are examples of government overreach.
The old saying is that absolute power corrupts and one of the things that I love about America is the fierce independence of our ancestors who were ok with a base level of societal norm definition – drive on the right side of the road – but were very much of a mindset to keep the government out of their business otherwise – don’t tell me what kind of music I should listen to, or how I should worship my God, or what kind of diet I should eat, etc.
As your representative, I will work to negotiate solutions to societal issues, including resolving the inconsistencies in our immigration politics, pushing back where there has been federal overreach over states’ rights, but will overwhelmingly be advocating for less government interference. What was it President Reagan used to say?, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the Government, and I’m here to help.” As your representative, I will work to keep government out of your lives in all but the most necessary areas.