Saving the Constitution

By Debbie Wuthnow

Constitution Day, 2022

My husband’s request for his birthday this year was to go axe-throwing. At the facility we went to, in addition to that sport, this particular venue also ran a “Rage Room”—where you could pay a fee to smash a room full of old dishes, glasses, and other breakable items no one wanted anymore. (I did not use the Rage Room, in case you were wondering.)

As we enjoyed our meal at this event center, I noticed that our table was decorated with a set of old glasses from 1976. These glasses sported what, at first glance, appeared to be a copy of the Constitution.

Knowing they were eventually destined for the Rage Room, I bought all six of them. “I saved the Constitution!” I thought. What a great allegory to our duty as citizens—to save the Constitution (and our freedoms) from being smashed by leftist policies in the hands of people who despise it!

But then . . . I took a closer look and realized the document portrayed on the glasses was the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution. They were in celebration of the bicentennial of the Declaration of Independence in 1976.

At first, I was disappointed that because I had not saved the Constitution, my nice allegory wasn’t true anymore. But then I began to think. Perhaps, in a way, I had “saved” the Constitution by saving the Declaration. After all, without the Declaration, there would be no Constitution. More profoundly, the principles in the former are put into practice through the latter. Maybe, as we celebrate Constitution Day today, there’s still a lesson from my “Rage Room” rescue.

I believe we can’t appreciate why the Constitution works without valuing the truths upon which it was founded. These truths are too precious to be thrown away. If we do, we are throwing away the basis for the most prosperous and free nation in the world.

The Declaration of Independence proclaims, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed … ”

It was one thing to proclaim the principles of liberty, but could we actually form a government capable of securing our rights in practice? That is exactly what the Constitution was meant to do and does—when followed according to its original intent.

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” - Preamble to the U.S. Constitution

Our liberties are protected through the Framers’ genius design:

  1. The Constitution secures our God-given rights by first placing clear and explicit boundaries on the powers of the federal government, then separating its legislative, executive, and judicial powers and giving them authority to keep each other in check. (Articles I, II, III)
  2. The members of Congress and the President are to be elected. However, it is worth noting that the Constitution never uses the word “democracy,” because that is not really the kind of government the Founders created. They believed that a pure democracy, built on public opinion, was notoriously unstable. But a republic, built on the virtues outlined in the Declaration, was a more stable protector of our rights. The Framers believed in republicanism so much that the Constitution directs the United States to “guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government … ” (Article IV Section 4)
  3. The Constitution also makes clear what authority belongs to the federal government versus the state governments—another separation designed to prevent abuses of power. This distinction between national and state governments is known as “federalism.” (Article I, Sections 8, 9, and 10; Amendment X)

In Federalist 51, a paper defending the proposed Constitution, James Madison called this system, “a double security … to the rights of the people.”

This is why it is so concerning to me to see our Constitution—and the federalist republican system of government it established—under attack.

I love the Constitution because it applies biblically based principles of liberty through a system of government designed to secure our rights. That is why it works. That is why, the further we stray from it, the worse off we are.

How can you and I save our country from the “rage room” that is seeking to take over America? Each of us must recognize the value of what the Founding Fathers gave us, claim these truths as our own, and take responsibility for perpetuating them in our society.

I want to thank you for taking part in this endeavor with me. These principles are just as true today as when they were enshrined into our Constitution 235 years ago. All it takes is people like you and me who are willing to fight for them.

John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, wisely said, “Every member of the State ought diligently to read and to study the constitution of his country, and teach the rising generation to be free. By knowing their rights, they will sooner perceive when they are violated, and be … better prepared to defend and assert them.”

Are you prepared?

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