I believe in the Constitution. I believe wholly and unreservedly in that venerated document. It is no mere symbol, it is the very stuff of which our nation is made. While the flag has sentimental appeal, the Constitution codifies and defines what it means to be an American.
Why is it great? Because it sets the bar so high. There has never been a time in our history in which we have truly lived up to the letter, let alone the spirit of its laws. It is, as a nation, what we say we aspire to. However, presently, it needs our help.
The defense of our democracy is not limited to military service in foreign lands. It begins here at home, merely by speaking up and speaking out.
Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall said:
“History teaches that grave threats to liberty often come in times of urgency, when constitutional rights seem too extravagant to endure.”
Recently, it has been suggested by some that many constitutional rights are indeed too extravagant, and that to observe them is to give aid and comfort to terrorists.
I believe that this notion represents the greatest threat to democracy that we have ever faced. The combined efforts of all of our nation’s enemies – the Confederacy, Kaiser Wilhelm, Hitler, Hirohito, Mussolini, Stalin, et al, had no effect upon our Constitution. Not one word was altered; no rights were diminished. However, our obsessive fear of terrorism has led us to the self-destructive act of dismantling the Constitution one right at a time. In this time of seeming urgency, let us exercise deliberation and caution before proceeding further.
The extent to which we deviate from the letter and spirit of the Constitution is the extent to which we cease to be American and to be free. Those who advocate diminishing the Constitution for expediency are not arguing with today’s liberals, they are quarreling with the founding fathers of our nation.
In his speech to the Constitutional Convention on June 28, 1787, Benjamin Franklin said in part:
“…I agree to this Constitution, with all its faults, — if they are such; because I think a general Government necessary for us, and there is no form of government but what may be a blessing to the people, if well administered; and I believe, farther, that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic government, being incapable of any other.”
Have we reached that point in history, a time when we are incapable of any other but despotic government? I hope not.
Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis noted that “Men feared witches and burnt women.”
Today it appears that we fear terrorism and burn the Constitution.
I believe that defending and maintaining the Constitution is the surest way of protecting our nation.
I believe in the Constitution, wholly and unreservedly. This I believe.
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