I republished an article this past Monday, one that discussed the importance and significance of the oaths of office our government officials take when they step into their government positions. But, as I was thinking about it more today, I became more convinced of this simple reality: the oath of office is meant to stir us, “we the people”, into the realization that our government doesn’t protect and defend government, the country, liberty or even the people-IT protects and defends the Constitution above all else.
We the people must first be convinced of this reality before any government official will care to be convinced of it. It’s the passion and reverence of the people for the Constitution, the law outside of government, that empowers the law outside of government and motivates those in government both to know and follow this law.
Why take an oath to something that you know those who hired you have no consideration or respect for? How much power does such an oath hold?
Truly. What better way to destroy the power of something or someone than to destroy the respect for that something or someone?
There is no need to destroy the Constitution if one can destroy the citizen’s respect and reverence for the Constitution. What government official would fight to confine her own power if she knows her citizenry has no care to see her power confined?
The erosion of even the idea of constitutionalism should be of great concern for those of us in America who desire limitations on government power. Consider this quote from the book, The Concept of Constitution in the History of Political Thought, discussing the origins of the idea of constitutionalism:
"Even though the debate regarding the constitution and its dilemma, paradoxes and priorities continues to develop, the times of constitutionalism seem to be all gone. European societies, even the ones that have just had their new old states restored to them, are no longer concerned with this issue. Writing and passing a constitution is not perceived as a task of primary importance. Loewenstein (2000) paid attention to this fact earlier, when in the 1960's he wrote about devaluation of constitution in constitutional democracies. He pointed to specific indications such as lack of respect for it among the people in authority, the very ones who should obey its rules. There is also an indifference shown to constitution by the masses, combined with ignorance of it and a low turnout when it comes to voting" (29).
This should be a heavy quote for anyone invested in preserving the United States Constitution. This indifference in the masses is precisely what suffocates and slowly kills any power the Constitution or even the idea of constitutionalism hold. Without a citizenry passionate for and educated about the critical importance of the Constitution, indifference will germinate and grow. And as indifference grows in the masses, indifference or “lack of respect” grows in the chamber halls of government itself.
Which one causes which? Is government attempting to destroy all respect for the Constitution in the citizenry and the citizenry is complying? Or has the citizenry simply lost respect and therefore the government does the same? Perhaps in a mixture of both; but we can only control our actions and our choice to refuse indifference.
Perhaps the root of the indifference is that few, if any, Americans truly understand why a Constitution matters, much less why it should be followed. Few know the true consequences of life without a Constitution. Many, from all different political persuasions, feel in their guts that it should be followed, but few can articulate why. And that simple lack of understanding is all that’s necessary to allow indifference to set it. (There are even some who wish for the Constitution to be violated, not understanding the dire consequences such violations breed.)
And this lack of understanding comes from a place of ignorance. And perhaps the ignorance comes from a place of indifference, leaving us in a destructive feedback loop that has no escape. We’re indifferent because we’re ignorant and we’re ignorant because we’re indifferent.
And as that feedback loop continues the endlessly rotate, the power of the Constitution continues to wane, like a dying star clinging to its last embers.
Yes, I’m sure much of this ignorance has been perpetuated intentionally by those in power to keep themselves in power to avoid having to limit their power. But, fundamentally, we were the ones who first put them in power and we’re the ones who keep them in power. If we truly wanted to break out of our endless feedback cycle, we could. We’re the employers after all. But we must first identify and face our indifference to the Constitution and our ignorance of the Constitution. Without facing reality, we can’t begin to repair what’s broken.
Spread these articles on the Constitution far and wide, my friends. I’ve seen that the embers of passion lying dormant in the hearts of so many Americans can be stoked into a raging flame if given the right tools and information. I’ve heard from many individuals who have been enlightened to the reason why our government must follow the Constitution and all it took to spur into action was a brief escape from their feedback loop–a breaking of ignorance.
Friends, we must not assume that the Constitution will survive without a citizenry bent on fighting for its survival. We must face any and all indifference and ignorance that we still allow to live within ourselves or those around us and we must fight to rectify that which is broken.
Because, I ask. If we don’t, who will?
The Liberty Belle