Keepers of the Constitution

Our Founding Fathers risked their lives and fortunes when they overthrew their government with an armed revolution.  They engaged in enlightened, spiritual debate about what government should and shouldn’t be.  We inherited their wisdom and their dreams.  We are the keepers of the Constitution.  How are we doing?

In our Declaration of Independence, our Founding Fathers warned us about government: “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed … whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government … it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

In our Bill Of Rights, our Founding Fathers warned us about government: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

In his September 19, 1796 Farewell Address, President George Washington warned us about political Parties: “Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.  This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.  The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism.  But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism.  The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.”

In his June 14, 1807 letter to John Norvell, President Thomas Jefferson warned us about the Fourth Estate: “Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper.  Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle.”

In his January 17, 1961, President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us about the military-industrial complex: “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.  The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

Why aren’t these warnings inscribed on the walls of the Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall?  Why aren’t these warnings taught to every child in every school?

The 1989 movie “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” introduced a memorable quote: “Choose wisely.”  Is it possible to choose wisely in a voting booth, when no law prohibits politicians from lying and defrauding voters, when no law gives voters any remedy for lies and frauds by politicians, when elections are more about showmanship than facts and truth, when politicians spend billions of dollars over several years “selling” themselves to voters with the assistance of focus groups and political strategists and advertising agencies and the Fourth Estate?

We agree our government is untrustworthy, unrepresentative, and incompetent.  Why do we almost always reelect every politician?

We agree our media is untrustworthy, biased, and more tabloid than journalism.  Why do we watch it and read it?

The Supreme Court “interprets” the Constitution to mean money is speech, corporations are people, and the Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution does not prohibit a corporation in one State from spending money to influence a Senatorial election in another State.  Why does anyone think it is supreme?

Let’s pause a moment.  Let’s take a deep breath, and re-focus.  Let’s consider questions more limited in scope.

Does anybody think that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, and also think that Jack Ruby acted alone?

Does anybody think it’s a coincidence for Gerald Ford to be selected for the Warren Commission (and conclude that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone), and also to be selected for Spiro Agnew’s replacement (and pardon Richard Nixon)?

Does anybody think there was insufficient evidence to convict anybody of any crime, when the Ohio National Guard assassinated Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer, and William Knox Schroeder on May 4, 1970 on the campus of Kent State University?

Does anybody think there was a good reason for 58,000 of our loved ones to die on the other side of the world at the hands of a Vietcong rebel force that lacked leaders trained at West Point and Annapolis and Ivy League universities, lacked a military budget large enough to buy aircraft carriers and fighter jets and bombers and helicopters and tanks and napalm and Agent Orange, and lacked a generously-funded Central Intelligence Agency?

Does anybody think Lori Loughlin’s daughters Olivia and Isabella, William H. Macy’s daughter Sofia, and George H. W. Bush’s son George got into college without the benefit of Affirmative Action For The Rich And Powerful?

Does anybody think our legal system serves justice by saying that reckless behavior resulting in the death of others is manslaughter, unless it is behavior by employees of a corporation who knowingly participate in the sale of a product that results in the death of others (consider the Ford Pinto and opioids)?

Does anybody think it’s just dumb luck that “public servants” in powerful positions acquire far more wealth than private sector employees with comparable salaries?

Does anybody doubt that Presidents Washington, Jefferson, and Eisenhower knew a thing or two?

Are We The People responsible keepers of the Constitution?

Stephen B. Benisch, October 16, 2019

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