Thoughts on Constitution Day

Every Sept. 17 is Constitution Day. It doesn’t get the fanfare that July 4th gets. What occurred after winning independence from England was quite remarkable. Most revolutions end up with a dictator or some elite group taking control. We were blessed with courageous individuals that gave up power to form a union based on a constitutional democracy. It didn’t happen all at once and is still a work in progress. It needs constant maintenance and diligent effort by its citizens.

Our constitutional democracy is under attack by a “me” culture versus a “we” culture. An example would be N.C. Representative Cawthorn’s statement to a group of like-minded people where he said defending, “Out liberty at all costs” and “having to pick up arms against a fellow American.” Our? Whatever happened to liberty and justice for all? I was always baffled how Germans and Italians, who seem like great people, could get behind Nazism and Fascism. Did they mistake patriotism for extreme nationalism? Do we have the Fascist black shirts and Nazi brown shirts in our midst now?

Part of the problem is that maybe we have done a poor job of teaching civics. In the April issue of the American Legion Magazine, S. Adam Seagrave from Arizona State University pointed out that Americans know literally nothing about the Constitution. Many do not know the difference between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Only two in five Americans can name the three branches of government. One third cannot name a single right guaranteed in the First Amendment. One in 10 college graduates in 2016 thought Judge Judy was on the Supreme Court.

A constitutional democracy is a noisy, messy process. Some do not want to put in the work to make it work for all. Instead they run to their extremist cults. 

They seem to support the concept of a dictatorship of their beliefs. If you follow social media, the word politician is now equated with someone evil. This is being promoted by our external enemies and within. Sure not all elected officials are perfect, but neither are we citizens.

I have always equated elected officials with the fruit of a tree. We are the tree and if the fruit is rotten, we can only blame ourselves. As the saying goes, “You’re either part of the solution or you’re part of the problem.” Our Constitution requires us as citizens to be part of the solution.