Principles or Propositions?
A Constitution is statement of governing principles, or propositions. Principles are truths. Propositions are opinions or beliefs. The foundation of a country should be based on truths, and not opinions or beliefs. Opinions and beliefs divide people, whereas truth is true for everyone. Reality exists, and ignoring that simple fact typically is not a good idea.
Was the US Constitution written to preserve principles, or propositions? We will probably never know, but what we do know is that it is protected as if reality was a foreign concept. Reality is not an umbrella that protects war, injustice, and corruption. The heart of legitimate governance beats for the purpose of applying due diligence to avoid harm and to achieve benefit.
Judges judge; Legal minds study constitutional dimensions; Historians study the effects of past history; Legislators write complex law; Politicians plot for advantage; Citizens struggle, and suffer much more than is necessary. All of this happens as if a Constitution was a set of propositions, not truths.
Legitimacy is purposeful. The heart and purpose of the US Constitution precedes any Articles, and comes before any amendments. It precedes judgement and precedence. Failing the purpose of the constitution undermines its legitimacy. It fails to distinguish harm from benefit. In reality harm is harmful. Benefit is beneficial.
Whatever the intentions of the framers, the beating heart of the constitution exists in reality. Its application determines its value. The intent of the framers is irrelevant if the the constitution fails to achieve its purpose. Presumably, each framer had their own opinions and beliefs. The purpose, however, is clearly stated in the preamble, to form a more perfect union. Each right, and each liberty have purpose. In reality more perfection requires less harm, and in a more perfect union its citizens respect, encourage, and protect each other, and the world around them.
There have been many discoveries that have changed our perception of reality in the centuries that passed since the framers crafted the Constitution. The literal interpretation of the language, after the preamble, is based on opinions, and beliefs that vary. The interpretations have a tendency to reflect the mirror image of the intentions of the people who read them. They do not necessarily correspond with the intentional direction that is required by the preamble, toward a more perfect union.
The preamble establishes the direction that everything that flows. Trickery in the legislative bodies doesn’t insure domestic tranquility, it sabotages it. Judgement that does harm will not establish justice. Sabotaging voters by inundating them with propaganda doesn’t establish justice, insure tranquility, or promote the general welfare.
There are scientific discoveries that can help understand how to create the environment required in a more perfect union. There are photographs that show how interconnected we are. They show that there is precisely one environment that we can improve, share and pass to coming generations. It is more effective to share its bounty than fight over it. We have learned that much of what people thought was evil, could be prevented or improved.
Better environmental understanding is required to form a more perfect union. In 1788 the framers either knew, or thought they knew which direction to travel “in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”
A constitution is of no consequence unless it is applied to reality. Now two hundred-thirty years after the ratification of the US document there is not a lot of evidence that the union is becoming more perfect. Civil unrest, war, injustice, and poverty are just a few of the indicators of failure. While historians ponder the unknowable intentions of the framers, easily predictable bad outcomes emerge, threaten, and disgust. Why?
Thomas Jefferson is supposed to have said that an uneducated populous cannot govern itself. While we are capable of putting a man on the moon, we seem incapable of treating world’s inhabitants humanely, and incapable of protecting our own humanity. We don’t know enough about reality, and out of frustration we fight over beliefs, and opinions. We impugn the humanity of those who don’t agree with us, the bad guys. We deify our heroes, the good guys. Most importantly, however is the despair we heap on ourselves, those we know, and especially those we don’t know.
Jefferson was correct about needing more education, but it is a particular kind of education that will allow the Constitution to do what it was crafted to do. The particular education required is not readily available. When it becomes available, we will acquire better vision. Constitutions can only be read with real light. They only produce credible results when protected from pseudo-political shade.
Economics is how people form a more perfect union. Failure is not economic. It is “antinomic.” Economy makes things better. Spending that ends in failure is not economical. The same is true with education. Learning that fails to produce better behavior is not educational. It is educational failure. A more perfect union requires avoiding economic harm, and educational harm. Constitutionality produces kindness, competence, and confidence in its continuance.
We are perfectly capable of forming a more perfect union. A perfect union does no harm. It is incumbent on us to first do no harm. Harming any one is unconstitutional, by definition. It isn’t just. It doesn’t promote tranquility. It is a defensive failure. It doesn’t promote welfare or secure the blessings of liberty, on this, or coming generations. A more perfect union is a constitutional requirement, a long term commitment to avoid harm, and to achieve benefit.
The application of law, has in the past has used precedence as a tool to make decisions. While equality under the law sounds just. It just doesn’t live up to constitutional standards. “Toward a more perfect union,” indicates movement. The, “Johnny did it, and he didn’t get in trouble.” argument is not a valid excuse to continue to allow harm. If we are to create a more perfect union, the ability to prevent harm needs to exceed the incentive to apply it,.
To coin an old phrase, the clock is ticking. Antique clocks still tick. In 1788 there was plenty of time to form a more perfect union. Four million people occupied the space that 300 million live in now. War was fought with muskets, that fired a single shot, and took five minutes to reload. Now, there are missiles with nuclear warheads. Then, enemies could be seen and identified. Now,the threat comes from anonymous sources to a phone in your pocket. The point is that there is a threat, an urgency. Forming a more perfect union takes time, and we need to begin now.