Monday, February 10, 2014

The Chains of Government

One day Mr. Smith is driving through one of his favorite neighborhoods. It is a beautiful day, so he decides to park his car and take a walk. As he passes Mr. Johnson’s immense house, Mr. Smith pauses but a second to examine the tall pillars, big windows and large front porch. 

As he looks at one of the trees, he sees Mr. Johnson’s gigantic German Shepherd sitting by it. Being a dog lover, he thinks nothing of this dog until it suddenly looks at him, growls and rushes towards him. Scared for his life, Mr. Smith runs as fast as he can and jumps back into his car. 

Breathing heavily, he hesitantly looks back at the dog in Mr. Johnson’s yard. What he finds shocks and amuses him – the German Shepherd from which he just desperately ran is harmlessly chained to a tree. The owner must have realized that his German Shepherd had the power to harass passersby, so he fulfilled his obligation to chain his dog to protect people like Mr. Smith. 

In a similar way, our founding fathers believed that the power of the government could very easily create a danger to the citizens of the United States. They decided they must restrain this power, as dog owner Mr. Johnson does with his German Shepherd, with chains. Indeed Thomas Jefferson said, 
“In matters of power let no more be heard of the confidence in man but bind them down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution."

In other words, the Constitution was created to chain the leaders and their corruptible nature down. But these chains do little good if the government has the ability to take them off themselves. The owner would not give his dog the ability to break himself free from the chains binding him. 

Similarly, I believe that the chains of the Constitution should only be amended to further the Constitution’s original purpose, namely, to protect the rights of the American citizens from the unchecked power of their political leaders, and not to further the political ends of those same leaders. 

Changes to better protect individual rights, or to further limit governmental power, such as what the Bill of Rights and slavery amendments did, are clearly justified. In other words, changes to further the Constitution’s original purpose of chaining governmental power are legitimate. However, changes to the Constitution made for strictly political purposes are not. 

The Constitution was created to limit what government will do with its laws, yet if government can just change or reinterpret the Constitution at will, the existence of both is threatened. However, that’s exactly what our government has been doing in recent years. 

We must be firmly resolved to do whatsoever is necessary to protect the integrity of our Constitution. Just as dog owner Mr. Johnson has an obligation to chain his German Shepherd down to protect passersby like Mr. Smith, we have an obligation to protect the chains of the Constitution to prevent the government from infringing on our rights and the rights of other citizens. 

We can and we must once again bind down the government with the chains of the Constitution and reduce the unchecked power that comes with our corruptible nature.

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