George Washington was passionate about the importance of educating young Americans about the merits of our constitutional government. He explained, “In a republic, what species of knowledge can be equally important?”
Yet today, the study of humanities is grossly underfunded. Many of Kentucky’s schools and universities have changed their focus from the liberal arts – civics, critical thinking, philosophy, literature, history – to education for employment, high-class vocational-tech schools.
Corporations have been seduced into behaving to maximize short-term profits achieved by outsourcing, layoffs, absence of customer access to quality and service which results in a tremendous income gap between those that have much and those who have little. Too many people can’t afford a doctor visit or a car repair or lunch money for their children at school.
What does this have to do with the Constitution?
A study by Harvard University and the University of Melbourne (Australia) found that 25% of millennials believe free elections are unimportant (right out of Facebook’s playbook), only 33% saw civil liberties, such as freedom of speech, press, trial by jury, and religion, as essential to our society. And according to a Freedom House study, 25% of millennials think democracy is a bad political system.
While these percentages are not a majority, they are trending in a disturbing direction. But remember, we have been governed by a minority for decades because most people do not vote.
We are at a time when the Constitution seems like a list of suggestions on a 1780s website. It is forgotten, ignored in Washington, and cited as an interesting artifact.
This groundbreaking document which rejected both a monarchy and party government is dying of neglect.
Our American constitutional government is both a republic in its governance structure and a democracy in the ways we select those who will govern. The Constitution is about values: justice and liberty. It’s about process: rule of law. It’s about our great protected rights: speech, press, religion, privacy, assembly, petition, a regulated militia, trial by jury, search and seizure regulations, speedy trials, and punishment regulations.
Unfortunately, when constitutional constraints stand in the way of desired political outcome, the process and rights are ignored. See Mitch McConnell and the impending impeachment trial or war powers or bills piling up on his desk that the House has passed.
The People’s Assembly has been rendered incapable of governing. This has undermined the separation of powers and the doctrine of Co-equal branches of government.
In effect, this impotence has fostered an Imperial Presidency that rules by executive order while the Senate sits idle and the pathological, lying White House and its Cabinet decides whether to invite the people’s representatives to participate in budgets, foreign policy or domestic policy decisions.
It seems that our Framers gave us a great blessing and a great curse. Our Constitutional system can only survive if it maintains the trust of its citizenry and only if those citizens are capable of wisely using the power the Constitution places in their hands.
Moscow Mitch McConnell, did you know that a kangaroo court ignores recognized standards of law or justice and intentionally disregards the court’s legal or ethical obligations?
Hence, the success of a democratic republic rests on performance of the government, on the wisdom of its citizens, and on the public trust that the system works for all people regardless of political party!
Our constitutional system also rests on our foundation of institutions: our educational system, the media, our economic system, our justice system and our citizens’ legislature.
Each one of these institutions is under attack by those who want them to fail to protect our constitutional democracy.
We are watching in plain sight as the U.S. Congress and especially Moscow Mitch McConnell’s Senate, has given away power to Trump’s executive branch, instead of exercising its constitutional power of war power, spending power, taxing power, and regulatory power.
At the Constitutional Convention and the behest of Gouverneur Morris, a preamble was added: “We the people of the United States … to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity …”
It’s the Constitution, citizen!
Marshall Ward is a Murray resident who is a member of the Democratic Party. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor’s Note: Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of the Murray Ledger & Times.