Wednesday, February 15, 2012

US Constitution: Preamble

"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."
Umm... wow. So where to start with this one? How about WE THE PEOPLE for a lot of good reasons ordain and establish this Constitution. When written, the new country was operating under the Articles of Confederation which had some problems addressing commerce and basically how the states would act as one. I think of it like trying to decide where the family (republic) will eat while on a road trip with everyone in the car (the states) getting an equal vote and the ability to just go do their own thing in the food court if they disagree with what I (dad, or the federal government) say. Basically, the original Articles left much of the sovereignty at the state level and the nation couldn't stand as a cohesive unit. The people of the various states wanted to make it better - a more perfect union - so they determined it was in their best interest to cede more sovereignty to the federal government. This subject will be broached multiple times in the course of a constitutional discussion. But the founders believed in individual sovereignty (expressed by exercising our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness). Just try googling "Benjamin Franklin individual". As soon as you pass the "d" and Google recognizes you aren't going for "inventions", all of the auto-complete suggestions are references to Franklin's strong individualism. That individual sovereignty was ceded at some level to a local government which coalesced into a state government. The preamble to the constitution lays out why the people (at the state level) are ceding their sovereignty to this three-headed dragon that is the federal government. The articles that follow it expressly describe the limits to which that cession of sovereignty was to reach in each branch.

The preamble, often recited by kids in grade school, sets the stage for a whole lot of heavy duty limits that the people place on the government. We'll see that the limits provided seem to be breached on a regular basis in today's world. But we'll save that discussion for another day.

Links to the other Constitution Posts:
Constitution Basics
Article 1, Sections 1-3
Article 1, Sections 4-6
Article 1, Section 7

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