We cannot persuasively warn of the consequences of overbearing government unless we are familiar with the Constitution and its underlying principles. We must know the stories of how it was inspired and crafted, debated and drafted. We must be familiar with the arguments the Founders themselves used to secure its ratification, as we examined last week.
It has been said that if the Declaration of Independence is a statement of beliefs, then the Constitution is an owner’s manual. It was hammered out during the sweltering Philadelphia summer of 1787 and submitted to the states for ratification on September 17th. It was ratified by the required nine states by June 1788. It was formally put into operation one year after it was first submitted to the states, eleven states having then ratified it. The final two states ratified it the following spring.
Given the battles that are coming, here are ten points about this God-given set of principles that we must advance, argue, and advocate with vigor:
- The people are sovereign. That means that we the people retain all power over government.
- The people ordained the Constitution and the Constitution created government. Government did not create the Constitution.
- Government did not and cannot give people their natural rights. It can only defend and preserve those rights for their benefit.
- The Constitution was written to control how power is to be employed in a society. Its checks and balances prevent tyranny by separating power between the three branches of government, dividing it between federal government and the states, and restricting the federal government to 18 enumerated powers.
- All legislative power is vested in Congress. It cannot be delegated to any other body. Executive departments cannot legislate.
- All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives. As with its general legislative powers, this power also cannot be delegated.
- The president shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed. That means equal and uniform application and no favoritism. He is not allowed to change any law on his own.
- The president shall be the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and has the chief responsibility to protect the country.
- The Constitution provides for an energetic and independent presidency for national security and a legislative branch more focused on domestic issues. It did not intend the presidency to dominate domestic matters and be timid on foreign affairs.
- All officers in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches must swear an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.
As I wrote in a Meridian column a few weeks ago, the only way to preserve the Constitution is to demand that government obey it.
This Thanksgiving, let’s raise our sights above the turkey and thank the Father for establishing the Constitution of the United States of America.
* * *
Gary Lawrence is a public opinion pollster and author. His latest book “The War in Heaven Continues” is available at Deseret Book, Ensign Books, and at GaryCLawrence.com. He welcomes reader comments at [email protected].