Two weeks ago as my Challenge I class was outlining the United States Constitution, we found ourselves desperately confused. We read the document line by line and identified the roles and responsibilities of Congress as outlined in Article 1. It didn't take long for one student to say, "If the Congress is responsible for all of this, then what does the President actually do?"
We struggled with aligning what we were reading with what we have experienced in the way that our government is currently operating.
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When I heard that Michael Farris was going to be in Dallas talking about Constitutional Literacy I was fascinated. What does the Constitution actually say? Did we miss something?
I have learned that starting with definitions is vitally important to understanding anything. One of the first words that Michael Farris defined for us was "Constitution." The constitution is a document that was written to limit the authority of the government, and to protect the rights of men. When our founding fathers drew up this document, their desire was to avoid the tyranny of the government they had experienced under King George. A monarchy gives no power to the people. This had to change.
The constitution limited the government and installed checks and balances not only between the three branches (Legislative - congress, Executive - the President, and Judicial - the Supreme Court), but also between the states and the federal government. When those checks and balances are not used, then power gets abused.
If you look at the Constitution, you'll see in Article 1 Congress, which is made up of the Senate and the House of Representatives, is given the majority of the power. As a Republic, we should be represented by elected representatives. Congress should be making laws. However, their power is being watered down by "executive orders" and Supreme Court rulings outside of their jurisdiction.
If you feel like you'd like to learn more about the Constitution and what it says, check out Michael Farris's Constitutional Literacy course.
Is there Hope?
If you keep reading the Constitution, you'll see in Article V that the States have an opportunity to unite if the Federal Government ever gets too out of balance. It's called a Convention of States. It's an opportunity for the States to speak up and let the Federal government know where it's overstepped its jurisdiction.
What can You Do?
Watch this video:
Don't just believe me. Start asking questions for yourself. The solution doesn't come from passive following, but intentional choices.
Here are some great books I've added to my current reading list in order to equip myself to be a better citizen:
- The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic
- Constitutional Law for Enlightened Citizens
- The Federalist Papers
- How to Read the Federalist Papers