Constitutional Magic

A theme in my mind when I write about government is what appears to be a belief in some magical quality of our constitution that is assuring our continued success.   Somehow our founding fathers and early pioneers in the government stumbled upon some supernatural essence that guarantees our success.

The constitution has an aura about it now that is verging on mysticism.   There is something approaching perfection in the government and this perfection is protecting our nation from harm or collapse.

The role of the people is to admire the ideas behind the constitution and it will return the favor by granting us continued prosperity, internal harmony, and world peace.

There is no real urgency for us living citizens to fix anything.  Our role is instead to continue making offerings to the idea of the constitution and adorn it further with new extensions in the form of regulations, regulatory bodies, and guaranteed entitlements.

As long as we are good to our constitution, it will not fail us.

I may be going a little overboard.  But it seems to me that increasingly we are encouraged to take a passive role in the actual business of government unless we are directly hired by the government in one of its agencies.  In other words, our only obligation to participate in government is if we are hired by the government to work from inside it.

The government will take care of itself with any need for participation by the people outside of voting in biannual elections and the associated get-out-the-vote efforts.

The government no longer needs regular citizen’s inputs in how it makes, interprets, or enforces regulations.  The government needs no regular citizen’s inputs to set any kind of policy.  Even the setting of a budget is mostly a show.  The government sets its own budget and our representatives just approve it.   The government’s wishes are our command.

We take for granted that our constitutional government can run on autopilot and it will continue to make us the envy of the world.

A well designed constitution will provide for its people.  Ours is a well designed constitution.

I think it is missing the point and of the real strength we experienced in the early years.   In our early history, our constitution activated the direct involvement in the population.   People got involved at the policy level.  In particular, the people were protective of policies they felt should not be absorbed by the federal government precisely because this allows them to have more direct participation in those policies.   People got involved in the federal budgets with continuous demands of the government to prove it deserves continued support previously set, let alone any request for increases.   People demanded constant assurances that the government was running properly.

Now we look around and see prosperity, harmony, and peace and we notice that it has occurred despite our largely ignoring the operation of the government.   We assume the government is self directed and does not need our participation.   We build that assumption into the government by allowing it to grow its workforce to employ people to take care of the details that once burdened the participation of citizens.

It is one thing to allow ourselves to think this way.  It is another to tell the rest of the world that they should adopt similar constitutional language and bureaucratic implementations so that they too can sit back and relax and let things just work themselves out.

Our search for solutions to assist other nation’s in their periods of crisis needs to focus on the same source that built our country: facilitating the direct actions of individuals agreeing to work together.

It is not helpful to praise the wisdom of our constitution and suggest they would be better off if they had adopted it.

There is nothing magical about our constitution.  Certainly it offers no magic that we can export.


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