You say you’re a strict constitutionalist and you believe deeply in the principles of that marvelous document. Let’s have a look at that
Of course, you’re a firm believer in freedom of speech. Yet, did you howl in protest when the Republican Party set up “free speech zones” far away from their 2008 convention in Minneapolis and prevented any display of dissent that might become visible to convention attendees or television cameras? How about when Mayor Rahm Emanuel attempted to stifle protests around the then-upcoming NATO and G-20 conferences this year with his “Sit Down and Shut Up” law? I thought all of America was a free speech zone and so did you. “Free speech zones,” indeed
Of course you believe in freedom of religion as outlined in the Bill of Rights, but do you tolerate those who insist that America must be governed according to their interpretation of the Christian Bible? That religious turf grabbing has the practical effect of establishing a national religion and marginalizing anyone who is not a Christian in their mold. And did you hit the Send button to communicate with your representatives in Congress about your disgust with the anti-Muslim hatred that now is masquerading as patriotism? Freedom of religion also means freedom from religion or from any particular religion.
The second amendment was crafted to ensure that immediately following our revolutionary days civilians could quickly be conscripted into an army in case the British invaded again. The second amendment wasn’t and isn’t about the right to own an unlimited stockpile of weapons of war. Since you probably don’t think the British are going to invade any time soon, why exactly do you think you’re guaranteed the right to own those assault weapons? Charleton Heston’s “cold dead hands,” testosterone-filled declaration may give you a dark side thrill of self-righteousness and cause your blood to boil, but your weapons cache is far more likely to make some innocent person’s blood spill.
If you’re a strict constitutionalist, are you taking action to stop Republican state legislatures from stealing the right to vote from millions of our fellow Americans? You should be in the front lines fighting that unconstitutional threat to our democracy.
The framers of the Constitution had a well-founded and deep seated distrust of excess power in a few hands. So, as a strict constitutionalist, you must be outraged over fabulously wealthy people stealing our elections from you and our fellow Americans. What action are you taking to counter that theft of democracy?
If you’re a strong supporter of our military, you probably thank soldiers for their service and perhaps you attend parades in their honor. But did you scream at George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld when they sent our soldiers into battle without personnel and vehicle armor, leaving them vulnerable to being blown to bits or left with debilitating brain injuries from roadside bombs? Are you sending checks to the VA so that we provide the after-action medical help our injured military people need, rather than making them wait a year for medical help?
Surely, you’re marching in protest against the war in Afghanistan, where most of our military deaths are due to bullets fired by the very Afghan security forces our soldiers are training. Part of “provide for the common defense” – that’s from the Preamble to the Constitution – means protecting our military people from pointless conflicts that produce little more than dead soldiers.
The Constitution that you hold as sacred is just as sacred to the rest of us, so here’s my proposition for you: Take a break from waving flags and slinging epithets and start taking action to protect the Constitution. It is long past time that we stop the outrageous screeching that serves only to make us feel powerful for a moment and instead start honoring our duties as Americans. That’s where the real power of the Constitution lies.
Copyright 2019 by Jack Altschuler
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