Tuesday, February 20, 2007

More Questions About Government

I ended my previous post on the role of government with a statement that I can’t write the perfect principle because I’m human and flawed. I wrote this because the U.S. constitution is flawed due to the flawed nature of the authors. The delegates who wrote the constitution knew this. Some thoughts, if I may.

  1. Could a constitution that denied rights to non-white, non-European, non-male persons be perfect?
  2. Could a constitution be considered perfect if a means of amending the constitution was written into the original document?
  3. Could a constitution authored by men who had never lived in a democracy write the perfect document about a theoretical form of government?
  4. Could a constitution be perfect if an immediate threat arose that resulted in the Bill of Rights?

What do you know about the Bill of Rights? The U.S. constitution was written in 1787, ratified in 1788 and the Bill of Rights was adopted in 1791. Why? It appears the early citizens were suspicious of government including those for and those against amending the constitution with a list of rights.

During the debate over the ratification of the Constitution, famous revolutionary figures such as Patrick Henry came out publicly against the Constitution. They argued that the strong national government proposed by the Federalists was a threat to the rights of individuals and that the President would become a king, and objected to the federal court system in the proposed Constitution. Thomas Jefferson, ambassador to France, described his concern over the lack of a Bill of Rights, among other criticisms. In answer to the argument that a list of rights might be interpreted as being exhaustive, Jefferson wrote to Madison, "Half a loaf is better than no bread. If we cannot secure all our rights, let us secure what we can." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Bill_of_Rights)

I find life to be like a boiling pot. It’s never static, calm or peaceful. We must always be questioning, learning, adapting and working to prevent tyranny. As part of this effort, I’m asking more basic questions than “what should be the role of government?”. I’m pondering the questions: “Why have a federal government? Why did the early American citizens create the government rather than be content with state governments?” I think the answer to these questions are relevant for determining a valid role for government.


Blogger Buffalo said...

Excellent question - something I've never thought to ponder and, I'm ashamed to admit,I don't know to what extent the subject was broached by our founding fathers.

I believe the establishment of the federal govt. gave the state a group identity that treaties between sovereign countries wouldn't provide and allowed for a united defense against outside invaders. No single state could long stand against attack. They didn't have the manpower.

Could a constitution that denied rights to selected groups be perfect?

The exclusions were reflections of the "truths" of that time.

2/20/2007 10:16:00 AM  

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