Yesterday I attended a “Liberty Tea” organized by contributor Kim Lehman. Kim is also the Republican National Committeewoman for Iowa, and this event was part of an initiative that several conservative National Committeewomen wanted to launch to educate people on the Constitution. So Kim (and others) are hosting “Constitution Coffees,” “Liberty Teas,” and “Bill of Rights BBQs.” She said they also will be hosting “We the People Wines” as well. This has a Facebook group where you can learn more about hosting your own event.
This event was located in a home north of Farrar, IA (brought back memories as I went to Farrar Elementary, which is now closed, 4th-6th Grade), and Kim had Republican candidate for Attorney General of Iowa, Brenna Findley, come speak (listen to an earlier conservation I had with her).
She outlined her three top priorities (and I’m paraphrasing): To clean house and address recent scandals, to object to business regulations that go too far and make our state unfriendly to business, and to defend the U.S. and Iowa Constitutions.
Since our purpose was to discuss the U.S. Constitution she said that when we discuss and debate the Constitution we need to ask three questions (the questions are hers, the commentary is mine, but it reflects the discussion we had):
1. Where do our rights come from?
If they come from Government, then our Government can take them away. But they don’t. We can see in the Declaration of Independence it says:
When in the Course of Human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.
Our rights are “self-evident.” They come from our Creator, they are inalienable. They should never be given away. Our Constitution then recognizes those in the Preamble when it says one of the reasons the Constitution was established was to “secure the Blessings of Liberty.” Secure, not give. Those rights are then found in the Bill of Rights.
Then when looking at particular item of legislation or program that the federal government wants to start, a second question needs to be asked:
2. Where does the power (or authority) come from and how is it limited?
What authority does the Constitution give the federal government to do what it wants to do? When it does grant power, what limitations does it provide? The preamble again states the purpose of the Constitution is to “form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and to secure the Blessings of Liberty for ourselves and our Posterity.”
The Constitution then lays out what the Federal government can do (and can’t do), but it is obvious that the federal government’s role was to be limited. The several States were to have more power… that has obviously been lost on many of us, and certainly many in Washington, D.C. The 10th Amendment makes it clear, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
There are many things that our Federal government is doing based on a loose “living and breathing” interpretation of the general welfare clause, supremacy clause and commerce clause. That needs to get reigned in.
3. Who has the power?
It’s not Washington. In the Declaration of Independence it says that to secure our rights, “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the consent of the governed, – That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government.” That is why our founders pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor in rebellion against the British crown.
In the preamble of the Constitution, the very first statement reads “We the People” ordained and established the Constitution of the United States. It wasn’t meant to limit our rights as well. The 9th Amendment reads, “the enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
Patrick Henry once said of the Constitution, “The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government – lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.”
“Lest it come to dominate our lives and interests…” Looking at the landscape today it looks like that is where we are at with the federal government, and we need to tell them no more.
Who has the power? We do.