By Darrell Beck
At the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, as Ben Franklin was leaving Independence Hall, a colonist asked Franklin: “Well Mr. Franklin, did you give us a republic or a monarchy?” Franklin responded: “A republic, if you can keep it.”
Franklin was well aware of how fragile self-government would be, but he also knew that a republic would provide more individual liberty because there would be less government. He knew that it would be difficult for the people to maintain a republic, because he knew that with rights come personal responsibilities, just as did Thomas Jefferson, who said: “Self-government is not possible unless the citizens are educated sufficiently to enable them to exercise oversight. It is therefore imperative that the nation see to it that a suitable education be provided for all its citizens.”
So today, some 224 years later, are we the American people doing enough to become sufficiently educated in order to fulfill our duty to maintain the republic and defend our rights, or should we consider abandoning the Constitution in favor of a more progressive form of government and thereby surrender our liberty and leave that responsibility to political elites, the entertainment industry, the mainstream media or someone else?
Should we believe the mainstream media is providing us with straightforward news in order to advance our education, or are we being misled? Should we trust that our public school system and the institutions of higher learning are teaching the Constitution as it was presented 224 years ago, or should we suspect they may be injecting a more “up-to-date” and politically correct curriculum? Perhaps if we are to ask ourselves some questions about our government and what is going on in the world around us, we might be able to answer those annoying questions.
Has anyone ever noticed that, when the government has a revenue shortfall, the first things they propose to eliminate are “non-essential” programs? Therefore, have we wondered that, if programs are non-essential, why are they being funded at all? And who decides what programs are essential or whether a program falls within the constitutional authority of Congress; or should we really care whether our taxes are used to fund non-essential government sector jobs and programs?
Should we believe that American jobs in the private sector are being “sent offshore” because big corporations are seeking cheap labor and are greedy and want more profits, or are American jobs being lost because of government micro-management, union demands, high taxes and excessive regulation?
And what about the housing bubble? Should we believe the current world-wide economic depression happened because fat-cat bankers and corporations were reckless, or was it triggered by the hand of do-gooders in government when laws such as the Community Reinvestment Act forced lenders to make loans to people who were obvious risks in order to stop discrimination by providing affordable housing, thus making “redlining” illegal in order to promote “social justice?”
And what do we know about new phrases such as “social justice, economic justice and environmental justice;” and how about “redistribution of wealth?” Does Congress have the Constitutional authority to take property from one and give it to another? Does Congress have the Constitutional authority to set rates, fees and taxes as a means to force the public to purchase health care from the government, or to claim control over the climate? Does Congress have the authority to dictate what kind of food we eat, what light bulbs we use or the kind of toilets we have? Can any mention of these ideas be found written in the Constitution?
If we are to keep our liberty and our private property, we must honor and defend the U.S. Constitution. In order to keep the Constitution, we must understand what it is and how it works. This is the steadfast goal of Ramona Tea’d. Over the past two years our non-partisan, non-profit and pro-Constitution organization has presented monthly forums at the Ramona Mainstage, all free to the public, providing programs and speakers on a wide variety of issues and current events — all being related to our civic responsibility to understand and uphold the U.S. Constitution.
Darrell Beck is a Ramona resident.