Thoughts on Constitution Day
September 17 commemorates essence of America
by Perry Willis, Downsize DC

Reprinted by permission, CC

Text of letter to Downsize DC subscribers 9/17/08:

Quote of the Day:

"Americans just want us to... not be concerned if they can be constitutionally justified... Why, if we had to do that we could not pass most of the laws we enact around here." -- Sen. John Glenn

Subject: The Unknown Holiday

Today is Constitution Day. Few Americans know this. Neither banks nor government offices will be closed. And most of us will go to work today, spending nearly half our time laboring to pay taxes to the various levels of government. In this sense today is no holiday at all. It's merely a designated spot on the calendar during which Americans are to . . .

Do what?

The politicians won't take notice of the day, though we've joined with the Liberty Coalition to encourage McCain and Obama to discuss Constitutional issues on the campaign trail. We won't be holding our breath in expectation that they will do so.

It remains to us, as individuals, to do something meaningful with the day.

We should be mindful of the role the Constitution has played in the success of our own lives. We live the freest and most affluent lives of any people on the planet, or in history. Our Constitution, which is now the oldest governing document in continuous use anywhere, has been crucial to this outcome.

The Constitution gave us a system of government with divided, competing, and explicitly defined powers. It gave us a Bill of Rights with strong limits on government action. The politicians have waged a continuous and largely successful assault on these attributes of our Constitution, but even so, the Constitution has continued to protect us often enough to make it one of the most important, if unappreciated, contributors to our daily lives and personal well-being.

It's easy to forget, overlook, or disparage, the number of times the Supreme Court has declared some act of Congress or the President as un-constitutional. But it has happened often, and has served to preserve our freedom and prosperity. In this we see not only the genius of the separation of powers, but also the continuing efficacy of the Bill of Rights. Without these attributes of our Constitution we would be not only less free, but also more poor.

Likewise, it's easy to under-appreciate the number of times Presidents have vetoed some over-reaching act of Congress, or times when Congress has acted to curtail the power of the Executive. Likewise, the Senate has often blocked actions of the House, and vice versa. And we have also been served when there have been partisan divisions between the Congress and the White House.

The separation of powers works. The Bill of Rights works. The Constitution works.

Look around the world. Wherever governments have less power, and the people more freedom, affluence, security, and peace reign. And wherever governments have more power, and the people less freedom, misery flourishes. And for as long as we have been the most free people in the world, we have also been the most prosperous and secure.

In America, even our poorest citizens live as kings compared to much of the rest of the world, and few of us need fear a policeman's knock on the door in the dead of the night, or that we will disappear into some camp or torture dungeon.

All of this, and more, is primarily a gift of our Constitution, for without it the people would long ago have voted their freedom away, and/or the politicians would have quickly assumed absolute power. A strong case can be made that only the Constitution has prevented these outcomes. So, today . . .

Ask not what the Constitution can do for you, for its gifts have already been conferred upon you in great abundance. Instead, ask what you can do for the Constitution. We would submit that you can, and should, speak up strongly on behalf of the Constitution's preservation. Please remind Congress that . . .

  1. Today is Constitution Day
  2. That they swore an oath to serve, protect, and defend the Constitution
  3. And that you would like to see them take concrete action to honor that oath, on today of all days

You can use your personal comments on two important campaigns to make these points to your elected representatives. First, ask them to pass the "Enumerated Powers Act," which would force Congress to specify their Constitutional authority for every act of legislation. You can send that message here:

Second, ask Congress to repeal previous egregious violations of the Constitution. You can do so by asking your representatives to co-sponsor Congressman Ron Paul's "American Freedom Agenda Act." This bill would . . .

  • Repeal the "Military Commissions Act of 2006" and thereby restore the ancient right of habeas corpus and end legally sanctioned torture by U.S. government agents
  • Restore the "Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act" (FISA) and thereby outlaw warrantless spying on American citizens by the President of the United States
  • Give Congress standing in court to challenge the President's use of "signing statements" as a means to avoid executing the nation's laws
  • Make it illegal for government agents to kidnap people and send them abroad to be tortured by foreign governments
  • Provide legal protection to journalists who expose wrong-doing by the Federal government
  • Prohibit the use of secret evidence to label groups or individuals as terrorists for the purpose of criminal or civil sanctions

You can send that message here:

Please also support out work to defend the Constitution by making a contribution or starting a monthly pledge. You can do that here:

Thank you for being a part of the growing Downsize DC Army.

Perry Willis
Communications Director, Inc.

Brian Wright Professional Services

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