Blogging begins again in earnest on Sunday. In the meantime…
It took two tries to get it right. The Articles of Confederation with their weak central government and distribution of power to the states were a failure. The second attempt in the Constitution of the United States with its strong central government of democratically elected representatives and republican institutions under a system of checks and balances on power has held up pretty well for the last 224 years, taking into account its 27 amendments that have largely moved us closer to the ideals embodied in both its Preamble and the Declaration. No doubt that we still have some work to do but as long as the democratic spirit is alive we’ll get there.
There will be many recitations of the Declaration this weekend but I think it worthy to give the Constitution’s Preamble its due, since it is the only place in that document that lays out the purpose of the system of government it established: “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.”
The document is clear. There is no room for “government is the problem” rhetoric, unless it is bad or non-representative government. Such talk runs counter to our heritage. No private institutions trump the people’s government. There are no special privileges or dispensations that make one group, class, gender, or organization superior to another. There is no doubt that we have not always lived up to these ideals in practice. But self-government is hard work which takes diligence, a level-headed nature, passion for education and justice, and a sense of service to the public good.