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The Constitution Is What Keeps “We the People” In Charge

December 29, 2011

For its day, 1776 Britain had a fairly progressive representative government.  Yes, it had a monarch, but King George was somewhat beholden to a Parliament that was partly comprised of elected representatives.  Yet Americans still viewed Britain and its Parliament as tyrannical.  This is partly because they had no elected representatives of their own, but the real source of American angst was that Parliament could make any law they wanted regarding anything they wanted.  Americans’ cries of tyranny were from being held captive to any whim of Parliament.  This is why constitution making was such a popular practice in the colonies long before the federal Constitution was written.

It is in the specific named powers provided for in a written constitution that we avoid tyranny.  Britain had no written constitution.  They had no checks and balances of Parliamentary power.  So when corruption entered its membership, when elected officials were bought and sold, the level of real, actual representation fell to negligible levels.

Sound familiar?  Who in America feels represented by Congress?  Regardless of political party, it’s safe to say most Americans today feel towards Congress about the same as our forefathers felt about Parliament.  And for the same reasons.  Corruption and power brokering are rampant, and made more dangerous because we’ve pushed the boundaries of what we allow the federal government to do.

James Madison wrote the Constitution.  In its day, the only obstacle to its acceptance by the public was that it would give the new federal government too much power.  To address this concern, Madison wrote,

“The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined”

I don’t think anyone will argue that Congress really believes its powers are few.  For the 84% of Americans tired of our non-representing representatives, maybe it’s about time they’re made to.

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