Reply To: A better Bill of Rights, Constitution 2.0


I was considering it as an exercise, not necessarily in futility, but in understanding what happened to the Constitution.

We started off with a pretty good vision statement, the Declaration of Independence, where it laid out the foundation for government that would serve us well and yet we ended up with the Constitution. Being more of a project minded person, I have to ask, what happened? Our deliverables are not at all what our vision statement was leading us towards. The proper body of the Constitution is all about government, the Amendments are nice addons but don’t really do what they were supposed to, and there is no mention of any need to protect our Rights. I am looking for parallels in the Constitution to these points from the Declaration of Independence:

1. It is a self-evident truth that we are all created equal from our Creator (and hence treated such by the State)

2. We have unalienable Rights. Both the word ‘unalienable’ and the capitalization are important as the first defines them to not be a gift from government and the latter makes them proper nouns, along with other elevated things like God and Country.

3. The purpose of government is to secure and protect our Rights.

4. Government powers come from the governed.

5. How to deal with a government that has become insufferable.

Like I said, I am project minded and I sometimes also think a little bit like a lawyer. I am missing a lot of things in the Constitution that seem to have been requirements before. I see a mention of ‘establishing Justice’ which might mean something about equality but in a weaselword way I have to note that establishing something means it only has to happen once and doesn’t mean that you need to continue it. Any good lawyer should have noted that before ink hit the page.

Our ‘rights’ in the Amendments are legislative rights, given by the Constitution and implicitly taken away just as easily with the stroke of a pen. They are not unalienable and they are common and not treated as special in any way. As I suppose they were intended to be.

The purpose of government is to… make a more perfect Union (they capitalized that…), Justice, Tranquillity, defence, general welfare, Blessings of Liberty… nothing there about securing and protecting our Rights. Of course, the Constitution didn’t have any Rights to protect, that was the Amendments, so maybe there is some symmetry. But the Amendments don’t have that either. Where does it say that the purpose of government is to secure and protect our Rights? Nowhere.

There is a reference to the People, “We, the People…”, but that is about all that is said. What happened? That is the only reference to powers coming from the People? That is how my wife says I say thank you. There is no causal link from the powers that the People have to the powers that the Constitution names. I understand why, the Constitution wants to have those extraordinary powers that the people don’t have, e.g. regulating interstate trade, but without that linkage there is no throttle on what may be conceived. It is not a matter of what powers we give to our proxy now, it is a matter of what can be invented and legislated in. Bad. Very bad idea, FF.

And lastly, if the Constitution was still being written and I had read up to the next to last page, I could have predicted that there would be no out clause. It is every lawyers coup de grace that they write a contract that is so in their favour and that there is no way to get out of it. I think they learned from the guys before them who said in perpetuity but which actually lasted about 10 years. Make it so it is even harder to do to the new guys what was done to the old guys.

If my SOW (Statement of Work) was the Declaration of Independence, if it really was just the vision statement my customer had agreed upon for our project, and I delivered the Constitution, I would have major issues. There are too many deviations from the original points, or no mention of them at all. Did someone forget to do a Gap analysis? So, what happened here? Why are we so far off base on this? And, more important, how do we fix this mess? People died based on the ideals in the Declaration, why are they ignored now?

(Sorry for the length of this post but I didn’t have time to write a shorter one)