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This blog serves my columns as an archive, a place to add footnotes,data sources and drafts of columns for the Sky Hi News(www.skyhidailynews.com) and after November 2019, the Winter Park Times, and postings on the Muftic Forum Blog. Often these are posted on my political Facebook page, The Muftic Forum. I have another facebook page for personal happenings found under feliciamuftic.
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Sunday, November 29, 2015
Violating constitutional principles is like riding the tiger
VIOLATING CONSTITUTIONAL PRINCIPLES IS LIKE RIDING THE TIGER
Our founding fathers were wise men. They established the Constitution that is as
relevant today as it was in the late 18th century. It is being
attacked by those who advocate ignoring the basic principles of that document
because they are fearful. Fear and hate
are also powerful tools for those seeking power. We need to support the
principles of the Constitution. To do otherwise is like riding the back of a
tiger. It will eventually devour us as it has others.
It was not that our nation’s founders foresaw a nation or a
world that would have the internet, a widespread bully pulpit of cable TV, weapons
of mass destruction or firearms that would require little skill to be used as
killing machines, but they drew on experiences of governance failures and the tendencies
of human nature.
Those writers of the
Constitution carefully constructed a representative democracy, not a direct one
that immediately reflected an ever fickle, easily spooked, public opinion. They believed that extreme views and their
proponents needed to be tempered. They had seen it all: religious wars in England
and Europe. They had experienced public opinion influenced by pamphlets and
rabble rousers and saw some hanging fellow colonialists who did not subscribe
to the official religion of that particular colony.
They had also
witnessed the repression by kings governing by divine right, exercising power
over their subjects’ lives. So they
wrote a document that made it less likely that there would ever be a king, yet
left a government with enough powers to be effective. They divided the power of federal government
among three branches. Even within the
legislative branch, a more contemplative Senate put the brakes on a House more
sensitive to the tides of public sentiment. They also retained some rights for
the states. When branches conflicted,
they let the courts decide which act the closest to the intent of the Constitution,
as they are doing now. They amended the
Constitution to protect individual citizens from being trampled by an
overbearing, unfair government.
There are destructive forces today that undermine the
principles upon which the Constitution was founded. For example, Donald Trump proposes
registering all Muslims, forcing them to wear monitoring devices (violating more
than one of the rights protected by the first Ten Amendments), and the use of
torture. Others, such as John Kasich, want to set up a government agency to
promote Judeo Christian values and thus de facto establishing a state religion
in a nation that is multi- and non-
religious. The glue that holds such a diverse nation together is the Constitution,
not allegiance to a religion’s particular interpretation of values.
Our forefathers formulated the Constitution to temper human
nature’s instincts to embrace safety within the fold of like- minded groups. It is that
very human tendency to seek the leadership that is willing to throw under the
bus the basic rights of individuals and the constraints of government power in
the name of national security. It is only human to seek a strong man for
protection, regardless of where he/she leads us. We saw it in Germany and Spain
in the 1930’s and in Argentina under populist Peron in the 1950’s
A version of this was published in the Sky Hi Daily News 12/4/2015