By Dr. Harold Pease
While on vacation in a neighboring state helping my son-in-law build a second bathroom for his soon to be family of six, I noticed more fully what I have always known; if your base is wrong so is everything else. Nothing was square, plumb or level. Things fit, and almost fall into place as if by design, when the base is right. When the foundation is level and when studs are vertically placed 16 inches on center 4 by 8 sheets of sheetrock fit perfectly, as does every thing else. If, as in my case, there are no true reference points, or constants, nothing is right, nothing fits. I had to begin anew with a rectangle room without a single wall from which to get a true bearing. Getting back to the basics that I new to be true, was painful and many times harder, but it had to be done.
In construction, as in all areas of endeavor, there are tools to get us back to proven constants such as a squares, chalk lines, or levels. In other fields it may be a ruler, compass, or a Bible. Ancient mariners used the North Star as a constant. Math, algebra, geometry are based upon constants. In chemistry water is always, and forever will be, H2O and freezes at 32 degrees. In government the constant should be the Constitution. My point. What are your constants? What do you use to decide if something is true?
Are there constants in all fields of study—even in political science? Yes! When I find another out of harmony with myself, I want to know his/her constants. What do you read or watch? What is your base? I am unimpressed when I hear the labels republican, democrat, liberal or conservative as these change—thus are not constants. John F. Kennedy, a liberal and a democrat, would make George W. Bush, a conservative and a republican, look very liberal. These terms are not trustworthy over time.
I am far more impressed when opinion is based upon factors resistant to change such as natural law and human nature are mentioned instead. Because the Constitution is based upon these constants it will deal with every crisis now or another 200 plus years from now. The Preamble identifies the purposes of government. For over 20 years I have asked my students in every political science class what they would add or remove. What is outdated or no longer relevant? No additions or deletions have been suggested.
So, what are some of those time-tested constants? Let’s identify two big ones. First, all governments tend to grow. They view everything in a way to extend their power. Either the government comes to control the people or they control it. That is why historically countries that are truly free are rare and why we are losing our freedom today. Second, the more apathetic and indifferent the public becomes the greater their tendency to shove decision-making power upward to the seat of government.
To prevent the growth of government all power not listed in Article I, Section 8, or identified in a subsequent amendment, was left with the states and the people (Amendment 10). The little power remaining was then specifically identified and separated into a branch to make all law (Article I, Section I), another to execute the law (Article II), and yet another to adjudicate the law (Article III), each with a list of powers in its respective area. The Bill of Rights was ten areas specifically identified as off limits to the federal government—again to keep it from totally controlling the people.
The constants of the Constitution will keep the government from dominating or controlling everything. It will even checkmate apathy for a time until a majority of the people fall into this category. These constants must be taught in our homes and schools so that we are not “tossed about by every wind of doctrine,” and that we have a dependable base to reference. It is our level, chalk line, and square in government and if not used nothing is right and nothing fits.
Just as a child eventually learns that he must understand, and be in obedience to, the law of gravity to survive, we as a nation must return to constitutional constants to survive as a free nation. Will you make the Constitution your constant and only vote for those who do likewise?
Dr. Harold Pease is an expert on the United States Constitution. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and applying that knowledge to current events. He has taught history and political science from this perspective for over 25 years at Taft College. To read more of his weekly articles, please visit www.LibertyUnderFire.org.