Wednesday, February 25, 2009

2-25-09: The Constitution is not just an old, wooden ship

If you're that guy who's been reading this blog intermittently for the past year or so (thanks, by the way), you may have guessed that I'm a bit right of center on the political scale. I wouldn't go so far as to call myself "right wing," since I do hold some liberal social policies like pro-abortion (actually... that's more of a "this isn't the government's problem" scenario for me). I guess you could call me Libertarian, as I voted for Ron Paul in the primaries.

One of my pet peeves during conversations with some of my more liberal friends is the subject of the relevance of the United States Constitution. It bothers me when people treat it as some antiquated document that people used to use back when things were simpler. They sometimes refer to it as a "starting point," and to be a strict Constitutionalist is similar to participating in the re-enactment of the Battle of Gettysburg. It's just for nostalgia.

I find this sort of thinking quite troubling. To me and people of my ilk, the Constitution defines the bounds of the Federal Government's powers. That's what it's there for: to tell the Feds what they can't do. It was constructed by men who, for the most part, wanted to avoid following in the footsteps of an empire that had overstepped its bounds. Some historians say it was out of survival that the Constitution was drafted in the manner that it was, not necessity. I don't remember who said that, mostly because I don't agree with that.

The Constitution is still quite relevant today because human nature hasn't changed all that much in the past few centuries. Despite all the advances in technology and the growth of the population, humans in mass tend to act the same now as they did back then. The Constitution was written to allow for flexibility and growth, but its core principles are to limit the government to allow for individual freedom. That's something we can still relate to as individuals.

Now, a lot of people say Bush pretty much destroyed the Constitution. I think that's a bit exaggerated. I won't defend the warrantless wiretaps and other things he put forth as being legal, as I'm not an expert in Constitutional law. But I don't think Bush single-handedly destroyed the Constitution, because the Constitution prevents that from happening. If anything, it's been a slow and steady march towards ignorance, and no single person or party is at fault. But that doesn't mean it's right.

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