(NaturalNews) It looks like about 66% of Americans will be happy when January 20, 2009 rolls around and a new president is inaugurated. And you will be happier still if the new president is the one you voted for. You know, the one who promised to support the things you believe in. After all, that's the criteria that should be important when deciding who to vote for. Or is it?
You've been told that as an educated voter you should study the issues, decide where you stand on them, and vote for the candidate who most closely stands where you stand on these issues.
If you believe that gays and minorities have certain collective rights, you vote Democratic.
If you believe that Christians have certain collective rights, you vote Republican.
If you believe in the rights of women to choose their reproductive destinies, you vote Democratic.
If you believe in the rights of the unborn, you vote Republican.
If you believe in spending on healthcare for everyone, you vote Democratic.
If you believe in preemptive war and defense spending, you vote Republican.
It's all fairly simple when the people asking the debate questions decide what the issues should be, ask their questions, and give you a chance to align your beliefs with a particular candidate based on his answers.
There is only one thing wrong with this approach. Voting your beliefs may ensure that if your candidate follows through with his campaign commitments and promises, he may be creating a future in which your beliefs do not matter anymore, because you may have lost your freedom to hold those beliefs.
Most of us hated history class, or slept through it, and it was in history class that we were supposed to learn about the Constitution. So some review may be in order.
Let's start by looking at the last sentence of Article 2, Section 1. It's what the presidential winner will swear to when he or she is inaugurated in January:
"I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
Keep this oath in mind as we explore other aspects of the Constitution.
Popular belief to the contrary, the Constitution does not grant you freedom or rights as a citizen of America. Your freedom was granted to you by your Creator, or by natural law. If you had been born in a place where no government existed, you would indeed be free, but your freedom would not be protected against the freedoms of another person. It was this concept that our forefathers had in mind when they wrote the Constitution. It wasn't to give us freedom, which would imply that we weren't free until the government bestowed freedom upon us. It was to create a government that not only allowed a person to retain his natural state of freedom as long as it did not interfere with the freedom of another person, but in turn protected his freedom against the interference of another person's exercising of his freedom.
The role of government under the Constitution is clear. The government established by the Constitution was created solely for the purpose of protecting the freedom with which we are all born.
The people who created the Constitution pledged their "lives, fortunes, and sacred honor" to gain this freedom from an oppressive government. It was critical to them to assure that no such government could ever exist in the US. Although these were mere men, they had learned first hand and understood how much freedom costs and how valuable it is. They wanted to ensure that their hard fought battles did not go to waste.
When a prosperous ancestor creates a trust with specific rules for the family he leaves behind, he ensures that if the rules are followed, the wealth he accumulated will be preserved for generations. But as time goes by the heirs have less and less appreciation for the sacrifice of the person who created the wealth for them, and they take what they have for granted and may squander it all by not following the rules. We are doing the same thing when we ignore the rules of the trust fund of freedom our forefathers have left for us.
Freedom is the Underpinning That Allows You to Have Beliefs
It is this freedom that has been entrusted to you by the ancestors of your country that allows you as an individual to believe what you choose to believe, and to freely express your beliefs so long as you do not interfere with another individual's rights to do the same.
The founding fathers were also intelligent enough to know that times and situations change. This is why the Constitution included instructions on how to change it should the times demand it. This is the process of amending the Constitution, or adding amendments. But this is a process that while simple, is not easy. And that is by design.
Our forefathers knew from their own experiences that the greatest threat to freedom was the government itself. That is why the power of the government is so limited under the Constitution. The forefathers realized that any law passed, regardless of the greatness of the intentions, has the potential to damage or limit the freedom of the individual, since the enforcement of that law would require some sacrifice of the people in money or personal liberty.
And they also knew that some idea or belief would become so compelling that enough citizens would decide to allow the government to enforce it as law. This is where free speech is so important. Free speech allows a way for these ideas or beliefs to come forth and be born. If the people discuss it and enough people agree, a Constitutional amendment can result. It is the power of the people to allow the government to make such changes to the Constitution as amendments. It is clearly stated in the Constitution that the government itself has no power to change or amend the Constitution.
Each time the government takes it upon itself to do something about an idea or belief in order to solve some perceived problem, the power of the government grows, and the power of the individual shrinks.
Many Americans don't realize the importance of the Constitution. As a result, the government has gained incredible power by creating laws to solve problems or enforce beliefs when they had absolutely no right to do so under the Constitution.
The Timelessness of the Constitution
There are many people who would like to continue influencing the government to violate the Constitution and add amendments to support their beliefs. These people are quite adept at trying to make you think that the Constitution has grown mold on it and should be thrown out or replaced. What many Americans have not taken the time to think about is that the Constitution is not a stale archaic document that has outlasted its usefulness. The Constitution is the ultimate contract between we the people and our government. We the people dictated the terms. Every time the government goes ahead and does what it wants to do, that it isn't allowed to do under the Constitution, it violates that contract.
When who you vote for is based on your beliefs instead of being based on selecting the candidate most capable of doing the job they swear to do, you are saying in essence that it is okay with you that the government violates its contract with the people as long as it is violating it to promote what you believe in.
If it is okay for the government to violate its contract with the people to promote the beliefs you hold, what happens when government leaders change (as they always do), and the new group holds beliefs that are contrary to yours? Will it be okay with you then for the leaders of this new regime to violate its contract with the people to promote its own beliefs?
Maybe it will be okay with you if your candidate loses. Then you can blame the party that voted on their beliefs for ruining the country. If you are a Republican, you can blame the Democrats if their universal healthcare scheme bankrupts the country and reduces the quality of care available. If you are a Democrat, you can blame the Republicans if their war drags on and on, bankrupts the country and results in continued loss of lives. The thing about both of these results of voting for beliefs is that there is nothing in the Constitution that allows them to do this to begin with. But you won't know that if you haven't read the Constitution.
Of course, neither party wants you to realize what's going on, because if you did understand, when the out-of-power party regained power, it wouldn't be able to violate this contract themselves. And this is why the people asking the questions at the debates focus on the beliefs of the candidates, so you will continue to vote your beliefs rather than voting based on the only thing that should really matter: the person with the best ability to do the job they are being sworn to do, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
This article is based on the column Ron Paul Rolls On Despite Super Tuesday Primary Results by John Armstrong
About the author
Barbara is a school psychologist, a published author in the area of personal finance, a breast cancer survivor using "alternative" treatments, a born existentialist, and a student of nature and all things natural.