Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The preamble and my politics

OK, entirely political post follows. I would love to hear your opinions, but you have been warned.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

My political views can be summed up in this simple paragraph and my interpretation of it. Starting at the beginning...

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union"
To me this meant that the founders recognised that no matter how well written the Constitution was, and how much deliberation and consideration went into it, it would not be totally perfect - or they would have left out the word "more." It is this passage that allows for re-interpretation of the Constitution based on today's values of Justice.

"establish Justice,"
This one seems straightforward enough, but it is very important. It doesn't say Justice for some, or Justice for those whom we deem fit to receive it, it is simply Justice. This to me establishes the absolute rule of law in the United States, without exception.

"insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence"
These two are interrelated, especially in these times. This means that it is the governments responsibility to help peaceably settle disputes between members of its society (hence civil courts), and protect its citizens against all threats, both foreign and domestic. But, this comes after "establish Justice", which in the end must be how such threats are dealt with. An armed forces is absolutely necessary, as is an effective police force; however, criminals and enemies must be treated according to the rule of law.

"promote the general Welfare"
It seems like some people seem to like to pretend this phrase doesn't exist. It is absolutely part of the purview of the federal government to care for its citizens and promote their welfare - the welfare of all, not just those who are best at using the capitalist system. This clause is what makes me believe in universal health care, unemployment benefits, welfare, and a graduated taxation system.

"and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity"
Another thing that people like to forget is that this comes AFTER promoting the general Welfare - when someone's individual liberty tramples on another's individual liberty or the general Welfare, the federal government can and in many cases should get involved. Thus, pollution (which both goes against the general Welfare and against my individual liberty to breathe clean air and drink clean water) is something that should be regulated by the federal govt; whereas owning a gun, which neither goes against the general Welfare or interferes with Liberty (unless you put a bullet into someone, then you've definitely interfered) should not.

So, this is my interpretation of the Preamble of the Constitution of the United States, and this is where I draw my political opinions from. I'd love to hear your interpretations.

1 comment :

Fastermorenownownow said...

"ensure" rather than "insure" and I could agree wholeheartedly. I'm not sure if this is purely one of those misspellings which were generated by anti-English sentiment, or whether the difference between insurance and "making sure something happens" seems to have the same meaning in American...