Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Remembering Constitution Day

One of my favorite things to do to celebrate Constitution Day, the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution, is to watch the award-winning docudrama, A More Perfect Union. It was produced in 1989 by Brigham Young University. It brings the story of the making of the Constitution to life—heated debates, multiple votes, not summer weather and all.

It’s the next day now, but still worth watching. You can see it on Youtube, in 8 parts, starting here.
Or you can get your own DVD on Amazon, or through the National Center for Constitutional Studies (—where you can also get additional educational materials to go with it, and download a teacher’s guide. (I’ve used this with groups of homeschoolers, for different age groups.)
I also came across a couple of Constitution loving quotes during the day, worth sharing. Ezra Taft Benson was the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the time of this speech. He was also formerly the US Secretary of Agriculture, and always a strong supporter of the Constitution. (I’ve mentioned his writings here, here, and here.)
This, then, is the ingenious and inspired document created by these good and wise men for the benefit and blessing of future generations. It is now two hundred years since the Constitution was written. Have we been wise beneficiaries of the gift entrusted to us? Have we valued and protected the principles laid down by this great document?
At this bicentennial celebration we must, with sadness, say that we have not been wise in keeping the trust of our Founding Fathers. For the past two centuries, those who do not prize freedom have chipped away at every major clause of our Constitution until today we face a crisis of great dimensions."—Ezra Taft Benson, “The Crisis of Our Constitution,” 1986.

This next quote is from Barry Goldwater. The words seem just as needed today as they were in the 1960s. It’s unfortunate that, among his very good grasp of the Constitution, he also held racist views that only appealed to southern Democrats, who gave him the few electoral votes he received as a presidential candidate. But the Constitution restoration ideas started a conservative resurgence, notably including Ronald Reagan, who made a good effort at restoring respect for the beloved document that leads to freedom, prosperity, and civilization:
The turn will come when we entrust the conduct of our affairs to men who understand that their first duty as public officials is to divest themselves of the power they have been given. It will come when Americans, in hundreds of communities throughout the nation, decide to put the man in office who is pledged to enforce the Constitution and restore the Republic. Who will proclaim in a campaign speech: “I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution, or that have failed in their purpose, or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden, I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is ‘needed’ before I have first determined whether it is Constitutionally permissible. And if I should later be attacked for neglecting my constituents’ ‘interests,’ I shall reply that I was informed their main interest is liberty and that in that cause I am doing the very best I can.—Barry Goldwater, Conscience of a Conservative  

While I’m doing quotes, I came across something that sounds like a Spherical Model concept, from before I invented the model. It’s from Ronald Reagan, who understood a lot more than media gave him credit for:
You and I are told we must choose between a left or a right, but I suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an up or down. Up to man’s age-old dream—the maximum individual freedom consistent with order—or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism.—Ronald Reagan
We need to head back up. When we spend too much time in the southern hemisphere of any of the three interrelated spheres (political, economic, and social), we see savagery with increasing frequency. The day before Constitution Day, on Monday, a madman murdered twelve people at the Washington Navy Yard. No one in their right mind would do such a thing; only someone in a savage mind would. The killer died as well, so we can only learn his warped motives through forensics. On Hugh Hewitt’s radio show Tuesday, he spent time reading the bios of the victims, honoring them. His blog links the Washington Post for the bios. And he used Condoleeza Rice’s phrase, to describe them as extraordinary ordinary people.
It is notable that the savagery is still shocking to us, even with as many incidents as we've seen. This isn't the America we want; we want civilization, prosperity, and freedom. And I believe more people are seeing adherence to the Constitution as the right path.

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