Friday, August 20, 2021

We the People

 I climb upon my soap box to speak my mind.

Personally I think one of the main issues in today's climate of uber partisanship is a fundamental lack of the knowledge of the US Constitution. In my generation (ie the Olden Days) we were taught citizenship. From an early age we learned how the government works. And, yes, more than just "School House Rock". Today one rarely finds this curriculum in schools.

If one asks many of the citizens of our great land about the constitution, the response will be something like, "We the People". A few know the following line, " . . . of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union,". But I would bet money that few of those under age 40 know how many Articles there are. For reference purposes, there are 7 and there are 27 Amendments.

    Article I - sets forth the Congress and its powers

    Article II - is about the presidency and its powers

    Article III - gives the US Courts its structure and powers

    Article IV - is about states' powers

    Article V - explains the amendment process

    Article VI - sets forth federal law

    Article VII - is about ratification of the Constitution itself

And then there are the Amendments - all 27 of them. These have been the life blood of the grand document. The first 10 are known as the "Bill of Rights". Most folks know that the 1st Amendment deals with freedom of the press. 

    The 13th Amendment abolished slavery.

    The 15th Amendment grants all American citizens (well, males only), over the age of 18, no matter their        faith, race or religion the right to vote. 

    Income taxes were established with the 16th Amendment.

     Prohibition was brought in with the 18th Amendment ratified in 1919. Then in 1933, the country came to     its senses and revoked the 18th amendment with the 21st. 

    The 19th amendment gives women the right to vote.

    The 22nd limits any citizen serving as president to 2 terms.

    The 25th Amendment sets forth the process for the cabinet to deem the president unfit, followed by               approval of congress by 2/3's vote.

    The Equal Rights Amendment, the ERA, giving women equal rights was proposed in 1923. By 1977, 35      of the 38 states required had voted to ratify it. Since then, 5 of those states revoked their ratification.

The point of all this is that since 1789 when the US Constitution was ratified, this great experiment has worked. The document is fairly clear. It established 3 separate but equal parts of government. It is living and can be amended as the times require.

But, like the rule of law, it only works when everyone follows it. For almost two and a half centuries, this grand document has kept the country growing and thriving.  If we lose sight of the way government has been set-up and how it operates within the the Constitution with its Articles and Amendments, we will become another failed state. Many Americans take this for granted, that it will always work. No so much - for our grand democracy and all its freedoms is only held together by this document. 

We, the people do self govern. We control who our lawmakers are by the ballot box. The constitution was originally written in the 18th century, times have changed, the country has modernized. Up until the 13th amendment slavery was legal. The 15th amendment protects our right to vote. The 19th amendment expanded this to include women. Every citizen has a right to vote. But, today some are trying to limit this right to certain people by making it more difficult for many to vote, incorrectly saying this past election was not legitimate. However the courts and election officials across the country have stated that it was carried out in a fair, legal, and legitimate way. 

Think of our country as a large bus that for  232 years has safely carried all of us. Oh, there have been bumps in the road, times when the engine spit and sputtered. But, over the years it has carried us safely. Now we find it recklessly speeding down the road, running through stop lights, hitting other vehicles, with no regard to life or limb. It can crash into a building or careen off a cliff at any time. 

Over the centuries there here have been many countries that operated in a free and democratic manner, to suddenly find themselves as an autocracy or a dictatorship. It is a slippery slope, an icy road, that many have gone down, only realizing too late that their freedoms are gone. 

We are a free country. Let us stay that way. If some fear the way some others will vote. Rather than trying to limit that right by false pretenses, it is up to them to rally their like minded fellow citizens to vote. For it is the majority who will rule. That is a fair and free election.

So let us remember we are all on this bus of democracy together. Let us keep it on the road to protect our 'more perfect union.'

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