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When I was boy, I would have been able to truthfully answer the above question with a statement such as: The Constitution is important because it is the highest law of our nation; it sets limits on the authority of the Federal Government, establishes the foundation of, and procedures of operation of the Federal Government, and was established by a unique situation wherein the people from a group of sovereign states each gave a portion of their sovereignty away to the larger group, in order to band together for the sake of survival from outside forces, protect their individual liberties, and establish how they would agree to interact with each other. It is the framework document wherein a government was established on earth, by men, who believed that that the pinnacle of man's achievement was not in any mechanical invention, but rather that a government could be peacefully established by the people creating it, and that the same government obtained its existence from the people. I would write that this Constitution was set-forth to protect the individual's rights and liberties, of everyone equally, so that each could choose what was right or wrong for himself, yet also understand his responsibilities when interacting with all others and that they too have the same rights as he - to live a life with self-determination, and not have to be afraid of the government as a heavy hand pushing him down. I would write that this was a new beginning for mankind; a new government style forever freeing man from the kings and all the corruptions of previous governments and of the power-hungry people of the ages. But today, I realize that this was simply a dream, and that our Constitution is long a thing of the past, no longer important in the day-to-day functioning of our lives. But how to explain this to someone of fewer years, I asked? Then, I noted the lower case "c" in the word constitution in the question above, and this little "c" actually gives a hint as to how this question is better answered today. The answer today (in 2007) is that the Constitution is actually no longer important in our daily lives here in the United States of America; it is unfamiliar to most all Americans under sixty years of age, it is ignored in Congress on a daily basis, The Article III executives of the past 100 years have run roughshod over the Constitution and have pushed for legislation which is in clear violation of its nature, while ordering (through executive orders) actions which are in opposition to the document's reason for being. Most telling of the Constitution's lack of importance today, is the fact that the vast, vast majority of Americans do nothing about these egregious acts perpetrated against them, by their own legislators - they neither bother to vote for people who would take their oaths as sacred, nor do they seek to vote the guilty out of office. We all have some excuse, but yet when the cards are out, that is all they are - excuses. Americans used to expect, no, rather - demand - their government officials to be honest hard-working people like themselves. americans (today's americans - with a small case 'a" that is), can't even be bothered enough to capitalize the "C" in Constitution, and expect nothing more than to hopefully get the lesser of two evils when (or if) they even bother to vote. Although when first established and ratified by the various states, the meaning of each statement and line was clearly understood by the people who wrote the document, as well as the people at large in the states, and the various state legislatures. They understood it well enough that they even required that the Bill of Rights be established and attached to it, such that, in time, there would be no mistaking the fact that the Constitution was establishing a very limited federal government, and that the people and the states, retained all rights not clearly given to the federal government by this document. That WAS the great importance of the Constitution. The U.S. Constitution was the first national governing document in Western History (i.e. our history) which actually commemorates the idea that The People, by nature, possess certain rights, and that they are the ones giving the government its license to operate (not the other way around). One can see this in the 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 defense, 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." Note that the Preamble does not make any mention of the idea that the government was first, or above, the "People." Note too, the specific reasons for the People to establish such a Constitution. Another reason why our Constitution was so important, is that, prior to our Constitution, the opposite thought was the way of the world's governments, in that the governments (the kings, emperors, nobles, etc.) where believed to have, by nature, the power of rights and liberty, and it was the kings who gave the people (and usually only a few of them) their rights. Although this difference may seem of little importance to some, the fact of the matter is that this difference (of who is giving who the rights) makes all the difference in the world. For whoever holds the natural rights controls those rights; he can give them - and take them back. As such, in our country, we the people (who hold the rights), can take back the authority once given to the federal government should it no longer be doing that which it was set-up to do in the first place. If, on the other hand, we were given our rights by the government (a king for example), the king (government) has the authority to take back the rights he loaned us, if we became a hindrance to him. A classic example if this dichotomy of governmental style, is that when an American (of the pre-1900's anyway) had property which could be established as his by deed or other note, that property, by his right, was his to hold and have. It was his private property - held by his rights. If the President thought that that land was nice land and wanted to give it to his sister, the President would have to buy it from the land-owner first (see 5th Amendment), because he (despite being the President) had to uphold the Constitution, and was thus, like every other American then, under the law, and had to abide by the law. If he were above the law (like a king of old), he would not need to pay for the land, because the land, in actuality, would have belonged to the king in the first place, so he could take it back at his pleasure. Now, per a recent decision by the Supreme Court (June 2005), we all no longer have any real private property rights, and thus again why I say the Constitution is of no importance to the US today. This later situation is what the founders of our nation sought to change, and did, through the establishment of our U.S. Constitution, and the various state constitutions. Thus, when it was first established, the federal government was to work according to, and under the rules set-forth in the Constitution, with the goal being to protect our personal rights against that of the "group". In so doing it had as its purpose, and reason for existence, the responsibility to protect our individual liberties, freedoms, and rights, as well as the various states' sovereignty. It is unfortunate that almost ever since that day of its inception, we the people have allowed government agents to take on more and more of our private personal responsibilities, while at the same time chisel away at, and muddy-up, our Constitution, (and thus our individual rights), in the name of "the general welfare" and "case precedence." It is so prevalent now, that today, on an almost daily basis, the federal government ignores, treads upon, and even passes laws, (with Congress's blessed approval), which deny our individual rights and thus ignore the Constitution. This has resulted in effectively negating those liberties and rights which were supposed to have been protected by the very system which now stole them away. It is as if you hired a guard to protect your home, and signed a contract establishing his duties and limitations (e.g. the Constitution) only to eventually have the guard ignore the agreement, turn on you, tell you what to wear, who you can hire as the maid, how often you can water your lawn, force you (at gunpoint) to give your money to him so that he can then give some of it to your derelict neighbor, who because of his own irresponsible method of self-determination, ended him up with no job and no way to pay his bills, and for all intent and purposes, your guard becomes the thief of your property, the kidnapper of your children, and prevents you from your right to self-determination, and the pursuit of happiness. Today then, in 2007, I am sorry to say that our Constitution is effectively of little importance, as it has been washed away by the tidal wave of legislation which contradicts the Constitution's very existence as a still-functioning document. (The Patriot Act would be just such an example of part of that tidal wave - if you were to actually care enough to look into it). The Constitution is like that of an old agreement between two long-dead brothers agreeing to work separate-but-together on a claim which panned-out long ago. It is now no more than a piece of our history sitting in a museum case, revered for what it used to represent and stand for, but now essentially useless as only one man in the present Congress is still attempting to follow its decrees (see the vote on amendment to H.J. Resolution 114 - October 2002; for an example of just how the majority see the importance of following the clearly established law of the Constitution). Such is our Constitution, as is also our Declaration of Independence, and the Bill of Rights; all long-buried beneath the mire and muck left behind by those who crave political and economic power. Of course, our founding fathers knew of these sorts of men, and set-up the Constitution to protect we the people from just such men - to keep the true political power in the hands of the people at a local level, and not have a strong central government. But we the people have neglected our simple responsibilities in the deal, and as such we the people have no one to blame but ourselves when all we had to do was stay informed, vote in good men of character, and boot out (without excuse, or remorse) any politician who would seek extra power, and even suggest or present any legislation which goes against the clear, nonbastardized interpretation of the Constitution (i.e. our rights). And this goes for the Supreme Court as well, for they too have twisted the natural meaning of the Constitution around so much so at times that where once an 8th-grader could understand what it meant (even in how it was viewed by the courts its first 100 years as well), today some people concoct it to mean to be saying exactly opposite of what it does. When I was very young, "We the People" allowed our legislators their positions, and they worked for us, not the other-way-round. Today, our legislators act as if they are Kings, and they are the ones "allowing us" to live under their providence, and that somehow we work for them. I wish I were wrong here, but sadly, I am not. A test of this unfortunate truism would be simple: as a pop quiz, ask every Congressman, Senator, and the President to take a simple 8th-grade level Constitution test, and see who could get even a D+ on the thing. (That is a 1950's level 8th-grade Constitution test, updated to include the latest additions - I say this because probably not a single 8th-grader today in a government run school knows the Constitution that well either). Barring only a small few of them (and no I am probably not including your legislators as the exceptions here), I would predict that most all would fail miserably on just such a test. Then, after the complete failure of that group, realize that every one of the Congressmen, Senators, and President, all took an oath of office, to not only follow, but uphold that same Constitution which they probably could not recognize if it hit them on the head: Article II; section 1; ...I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. Article VI; claus3; The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States. And for one of the first acts of the Senate: On May 5, 1789, the Senate passed its first bill -- the Oath Act. That first oath, for members and civil servants, was very simple: "I do solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States." So the question to us today should actually be: Why is the Constitution so unimportant? And this question can be answered by examining first another question: How is it that we have come to a place in time, where we have over 500 elected legislators and a president who are so shallow of character that they would be willing to take an oath and claim to support a Constitution which not only are they so unfamiliar with, that they could not pass a test on what it even says, but are also passing legislation on us every week, legislation which flies directly against the rules set out in the Constitution? Why would we as a people even accept people such as these to be legislators? The answer is rather simple: It is because, we the people acquiesced; we gave up our individual personal responsibilities to the state in order to get what we thought was going to be a free-lunch, from the state. Name the program, name the agency and you will see where once the individual had responsibility for himself to do or refrain from that same something, now the government legislates it and controls that same something for all of us. The federal government is now in every aspect of our lives. This is an anathema to the doctrine of the Constitution, and thus the Constitution is essentially meaningless. At first, it was simply a little trade-off such as a little liberty for a little security, then it was the next thing, but that legislation was targeted to tax the young, so you didn't bother to help fight against it. Maybe the next liberty you recall being taken away was your right to live in a state which would determine its own speed limits. But Uncle Sam dangled a big money carrot in front of your state legislators saying that if they do not follow Uncle Sam's suggestions, then he will hold back on those funds. Again, instead of seeing that as a gross violation of the roll of the federal government, realizing too that the money they were dangling was your money in the first place, and getting active against the feds then, (even if you liked the 55MPH deal) you did nothing, and slowly but surely the feds pulled the same trick with each and every aspect of your local and personal life - school, housing, child care, heck - even vitamins. We gave up our responsibilities, and so too went our rights to the government - if you are over 18 year of age, it is nobody fault but yours - yes yours - you as an individual - and to dust went our Constitution. So who's fault is it that the Constitution is of no importance today? If you did not vote, it is your fault; if you voted for one of those who could not pass the test suggested above; it is your fault, if you voted for the "least of two bad options," it is your fault (why would you think that the better of two evils is still something good?); if you are one of those who wanted to vote for a third party person, or a write-in candidate, but did not because you thought he "had no chance of winning;" then it is your fault; if you thought you could do a better job, but did not go down to at least sign-up to attempt to run, then it is your fault, if you think that the government has the responsibility to take care of you and protect you even from yourself, from cradle -to-grave, it is your fault; if you are a person, and voted for legislators who presented social welfare programs to you, or your "special group", taxing young families so that you could get a "free-lunch" and taxing the next generations (like all welfare programs do mind you), it is your fault; if you are over 18, and do not know the Constitution yourself, it is your fault; if you have no clue how your legislators voted on the many "rights, and liberties-taking bills" this past year, it is your fault. And this is why our Constitution is no longer of any significant importance - because the vast majority of americans do not care enough to insist that their legislators follow it! Americans care; americans do not. And people who write the Constitution, with a small case "c" are americans. Would you go to a doctor who could not pass his license exams? Would you seek advice from a Pastor who was not familiar with the Bible? Would you hire a guard who knows nothing of protecting others, but spent time in jail for getting in street fights, and kidnapping? No, probably not. But yet we are all OK with hiring legislators who do not even know what they are supposed to be upholding....and worse yet, are yet willing to say that they will uphold it anyway? How can you trust people like that? Let's face it, our own ignorance, selfishness, and irresponsibility have allowed the Constitution to become a relic of the past, and of no importance.........and that is all it is - our past. And becasue of that irresponsibility, and lack of action, today, instead of the Constitution, we get a congress and president who are more likely to follow the UN and the WTO's declarations and directives than our own laws - and we don't even have to vote for those UN guys; they determine what's best for us, for us.

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Imogene Stehr

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1y ago
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Q: Why is constitution is important?
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