Our Dysfunctional Republic - Part IV

John A. Quayle blueoval57 at VERIZON.NET
Sat Oct 13 22:30:35 MDT 2007


Our Dysfunctional Republic

By Neal Ross

Sept. 10, 2007 | Part IV

How can the people of this country know if, and when, their government's
overstepping their authority if they do not understand what authority their
government has to begin with...?

It is estimated that close to a million people visit our nation's 
National Archives every year. For many of those people it must be 
similar to a pilgrimage to see a sacred part of our nation's history. 
I wonder though, how many of those visitors could tell you what the 
Constitution actually says? If the percentage is similar to what I 
have encountered, I would venture to guess that not many at all could 
tell you much about what the Constitution actually says.

Not only is that unfortunate, it is truly pathetic. This document 
describes exactly what our government can and cannot do. How can the 
people of this country know if, and when, their government is 
overstepping their authority if they do not understand what authority 
their government has to begin with?

I have used this quote by Patrick Henry on a previous occasion, but I 
feel it is important enough that it be considered again, "The 
Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the 
people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the 
government-- lest it come to dominate our lives and interests."

If you were to take the time to examine the laws our government has 
been passing you would find that our government is doing just what 
Patrick Henry said the constitution was to safeguard us from. The 
tables have been turned and that the laws our government is passing 
are, for all intensive purposes, restraining the people of this 
country and infringing upon our personal liberties.

Article 6 of the Constitution clearly states that, "This 
Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made 
in pursuance thereof; ... shall be the supreme law of the land; and 
the judges in every state shall be bound thereby..."

To understand what is meant by the individual clauses of the 
Constitution you must have a rudimentary understanding of English, a 
decent vocabulary, and the proper usage of grammar. Take the above 
sentence from Article 6, "This Constitution, and the laws of the 
United States which shall be made in the pursuance thereof...shall be 
the supreme law of the land." That could easily be misunderstood, or 
misrepresented to mean that all laws passed by the government are the 
supreme laws of the land. Not so! Look up the word pursuance and you 
will see that it means, the act of carrying into effect. So, in truth 
what that statement says is that the Constitution, and all the laws 
that are passed which aid in carrying into effect those contained 
within it are to be considered the supreme law of the land. It does 
not mean that every law that our government passes is legal, valid, 
or to be considered binding.

In the Federalist Papers, #78, written by Alexander Hamilton, we find 
the following, "There is no position which depends on clearer 
principles, than that every act of a delegated authority, contrary to 
the tenor of the commission under which it is exercised, is void. No 
legislative act, therefore, contrary to the Constitution, can be valid."

The Constitution was, as Patrick Henry explained, an 'instrument for 
the people to restrain the government'. Think of it as a handbook, a 
guide, so the people would know just exactly what the government 
could and could not do. So according to Article 6, it is the supreme 
law of the land, and according to Alexander Hamilton, 'No legislative 
act, therefore, contrary to the Constitution, can be valid.' 
Therefore if we are not informed as to what the Constitution says, we 
cannot be know if the laws our government is passing are within it's 
powers or if they are beyond their powers.

Each and every elected official, from the president to all our 
senators and congressmen are bound by oath to support that document. 
They are there to represent the people of this country, not to rule 
over them. Thomas Jefferson once said, "The will of the people is the 
only legitimate foundation of any government..."

Before I go any further I want to explain something. You will by now 
have noticed that I rely heavily upon quotations by our founding 
fathers. The reason for this is best explained in a quote by James 
Madison, "Do not separate text from historical background. If you do, 
you will have perverted and subverted the Constitution, which can 
only end in a distorted, bastardized form of illegitimate government."

What Madison meant is that to truly understand the Constitution, you 
must rely upon the historical background behind it. If you do not, 
the Constitution is open to misinterpretation which will lead to a 
form of government that does not follow the guidelines contained 
within it. The best way to understand the Constitution is to rely 
upon the writings of those who created it. Only they can explain what 
they meant by the words contained within it.

The Constitution was fought for and debated upon by people who had 
recently fought a war for their independence from a tyrannical 
government. They wanted to ensure that the form of government they 
created would never end up like the one they had just fought. Every 
article, every clause, every phrase of the Constitution should be 
read keeping that thought in mind.

The Constitution, as ratified, contains seven articles and ten 
amendments, which are known as the Bill of Rights. Article 1 covers 
the legislative branch of the government. Article 2 covers the 
Executive branch, or the President and Vice President. Article 3 
covers the Judicial branch. Article 4 covers the rights of the states 
in respect to the union. Article 5 covers the process for amending 
the Constitution. Article 6 covers the legal status of the 
Constitution, and Article 7 covers the ratification process.

One final note before I start my discussion of Article 1. The terms 
legislative and Executive need be understood by all who wish to 
understand the functions of those particular branches of our 
government. Legislative comes from the root word legislate, or to 
create law. The Executive comes from the root word execute, or to do 
what is called for (as by law). In the Federalist Papers, # 75, 
Alexander Hamilton states, "The essence of the legislative authority 
is to enact laws, or in other words, to prescribe rules for the 
regulation of the society: while the execution of the laws and the 
employment of the common strength, either for this purpose, or for 
the common defense seem to comprise all the functions of the 
executive magistrate." In other words, the Congress has the power to 
create the laws, while the president puts them into effect and makes 
sure they are enforced. If you understand that it will be much easier 
to understand the violations that have taken place by the various 
branches of our government.

...to be continued

Neal Ross

Comments on my writing?

Contact me at: <mailto:bonsai at syix.com>bonsai at syix.com

My other articles may be found at: 

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