“The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.” Alexis de Tocqueville.
Our founding document is something every American has benefited from, yet few have read and even fewer understand it’s true importance. Now there is a movement to change our form of government, with those calling for it not realizing the long lasting implications of such changes.
Social media is a great form of communication, where you can communicate with anyone about anything at any time. Everyone has a voice, whether you want to see it or not (blog posts are the same, trust me I understand the irony). Memes, GIFS, and other media have taken over the way in which we communicate. Instead of using critical thinking and research, our instant gratification society uses pictures with words on them to “get a point across”. Living in what is called the information age, people are actually less informed when it comes to important issues, including our how government works and the importance of our constitution.
This painting I feel captures the disappointment the founders would express now when viewing how we as a nation so willingly sacrifice the gift of liberty they bestowed upon us. Most of the time, a majority of our society ignores issues because researching facts can be “inconvienient“.
Our founding fathers created a form of government that held at it’s center the liberty and rights of every American. Following victory in the American Revolution, the founding fathers had to build a nation where there had not been one. There was a wide breadth of issues that had to be solved in creating a new nation, but at their forefront was how to limit the power of the government in the lives of the citizenry.
After much deliberation, the founders decided on establishing a document which listed not what the government could do, but rather what it was limited in doing. The first ten amendments in the American constitution would be called the Bill of Rights, which didn’t guarantee or permit these rights to the citizenry, rather they proteced these rights from the government.
The founders realized that elected representatives could just as easily become as tyrannical as any King or Parliament. If one takes the time to read and research this period in American history, the common theme is one of a distrust of centralized government. Hell, during the revolution, as America struggled to fight against the British Army, the various colonies refused to create a colonial army, fearful of what such an army could be used for. Even during the creation of the nation, the government limited the size of the army, and instead relied on the militia system for national defense.
The founders were extremely calculated in just what form of government they created. They created a Constitutional Republic, in which the people elected their representatives to be their voice in major decision making. They decided on using an electoral college system for elections, because they knew also that a purely democratic system could become a tool of tyrannical overreach. A pure democracy would result in 51 percent of the nation ruling over the 49 percent, no matter the issue. Our constitution and our electoral college system both guarantee that everyone is represented.
If we go to a purely popular vote style election as some states have begun to, the major population centers of states would hold the power at the expense of the “rest” of the state. Want an example of this? Look at the great state of Illinois. A majority of policies created within the state come from one place and only make sense to those whole live there; Chicago.
Illinois election map from the 2016 presidential election. Not only does this apply to the presidential election but if one is to look at voting in the state, it follows the same pattern represented here. One city politically controls the rest of the state.
Even though the city of Chicago and it’s outlying suburbs are highly populated, culturally Chicago and the rest of the state are vastly different. The values, beliefs and politics are vastly different, so how can it be justified to allow a purely popular vote, won by population numbers, be allowed to speak for the rest of the state? How is that a fair representation for the “others” in the state?
If we as a nation go to a purely popular vote and do away with the electoral college, we are doing the exact opposite of what the founders intended in regards to representation. No longer will the rural areas have a fair shake in elections. It will all be controlled by the high population centers of the major cities, which will always win in those types of elections just based on numbers alone. People running for office can negate the less populated areas and instead focus on issues that only benefit the major urban areas. How is that a fair representation for all Americans?
Those elected officials who are calling for a change in our government system were pretty silent about it prior to 2016. Now all of a sudden there is a major need to change the way we do things because they didn’t get the result they wanted from the system that has worked since our nation’s inception. Instead of advocating for a change to our system of government, which is designed to protect the rights of the people, maybe more people should read the documents from the founders to actually understand why it is designed the way it is. Instead of taking it at face value from social media memes and posts, people should stop being lazy and do their own research.
It is a dangerous precedent to set to make constitutional changes. It may not have dire affects in the short term, but you are setting future generations up for failure in the long term.
In my blog A Republic if You Can Keep It I harped on active participation by we the people. The rights outlined in the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments of the Constitution are NOT rights granted to us by the government. They are natural rights endowed by our Creator, or evolution or however you view how we came to be, that are safeguarded from the government. Allowing the government to alter those rights, infringe on those rights without a serious challenge is a serious error on our part. Once it is done it is hard for it to be undone. Once we the people grant the power for elected officials to change our rights, we have set that dangerous precedent.
Instead of changing the Constitution because you are unhappy with how things turned out, try reading the Federalist Papers, and other documents from our founders to gain an understanding of the why. Educate yourself first and then ask; do I really want to allow political careerists to make major changes to our rights? Understand the implications for allowing this, and ask how is it setting up the country in the long term. That is active participation.
We the people control the government, but that responsibility requires work on our part. In order to do right by the founders and the lives that have been sacrificed for our rights, we the people need to educate ourselves and take an interest in where we allow our nation to go. If we continue down the path we are on, slowly our rights will diminish to the point we are subjects instead of citizens. That should scare everyone who values their liberty.