Column: Defending Constitution helps keep country strong

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The very foundation of this country is built from what the founding father’s believed to be the most important fundamental rights citizens needed to truly make America the land of the free and the home of the brave.

The writing of the Constitution occurred over 200 years ago and the United States has seen many changes since. From the emancipation of slaves to women’s suffrage to the civil rights movement. American politics and society has molded to modern times and ideals.

But certain rights that are the backbone of the United States are still relevant in 2014 and for as long as this country stands.

When the Constitution was written in 1787, James Madison knew one of the biggest issues that needed to be addressed was the idea of “popular sovereignty.”

The power did not rest in the hands of the federal government or even the state governments, but instead came from the American people, truly setting the United States apart. The government was merely a vehicle to represent the citizens and the Constitution was created to be the “supreme law” (as stated in Article 6 as the supremacy clause).

This basic concept is extremely important in modern America due to the exponential growth of the federal government’s power over the people. A recent act of the government that overstepped this was the enactment of Obamacare, which includes a clause that forces citizens who don’t have health insurance to pay a tax penalty.

If the power comes from the American people, they should have the right and liberty to make their own choice regarding health care and should not be penalized for their decision. By including a clause that persuades people to do what the government ultimately wants, it is putting too much power in the hands of the federal government.

The writings of the Constitution should still be relevant today because this country was founded on the idea of popular sovereignty, where people are the ultimate power over the government.

After the initial document of the Constitution, it was understood that future amendments would need to be made to make the United States stronger. The first 10 amendments, all passed by 1791, are grouped together to form the Bill of Rights, which are extended to all American citizens and expand on the principles of the Constitution.

The First Amendment deals with freedom of religion, speech, petition, press and assembly, all five things that play a major role in the free country America is today. This amendment is even more relevant in modern times due to the rapid rate that America is being infused with varying cultures and ideas.

Without the protection of the citizens’ beliefs, the United States would not be the great nation it is in 2014.

In Arizona, the legislature passed a bill that allowed business owners to deny service based on religious grounds. It eventually was vetoed by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, but the ideals behind the bill remain: if people are allowed to have the freedom to have their own beliefs regarding sexuality, shouldn’t others also have the right to their own opinions?

In a country founded on the freedom of belief and the ability to speak out on that belief, modern America needs to allow that right to be shared all across the spectrum. Cases like these make the Constitution relevant, and even necessary, now and in the future.

The Second Amendment, the right of citizens to bear arms, is very crucial to not only the origins of America but also to its future.

Because the Revolutionary War consisted of the colonies rebelling against England due to injustices, the founding fathers saw the importance of citizens having the power to defend themselves against an oppressive government. That was in part the reasoning behind the Second Amendment, but as the United States has evolved, this amendment has also become imperative to the safety of the people of this nation.

After the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in the winter of 2012, the federal government began hinting at the possibility of removing such rights from the American people. With 1 to 2 percent of the nation’s population diagnosed as psychopathic (that’s about three to six million individuals) with tendencies to violent social behavior, the decision to have and to protect themselves should be a choice left up to the U.S. citizen.

Idaho passed a law allowing college students to have concealed weapons (after going through the necessary training course provided by the NRA) on campus in hopes that school shootings and other acts of violence will decrease due to more people having a form of protection.

The Second Amendment does not, by any means, condone unlawful violence caused by the use of weapons, but instead it gives citizens the right to bear arms if faced with danger.

As time goes on, presidents change, clothing goes in and out of style and the next big social rights movement begins and then subsequently ends.

But something that should never change is the fundamental principles outlined in the Constitution. The idea that the power of America should be in the people’s hands is essential to having a free country, and the Bill of Rights contains many relevant amendments.

To continue to create its legacy, the country has to uphold its basic rights. As in the words of James Madison, “The happy Union of these States is a wonder; their Constitution a miracle; their example the hope of liberty throughout the world.”

Madyson Gabriel is a junior at Walla Walla High School. She is a recent recipient of a $500 college scholarship from the Walla Walla County Republican Party presented April 6 at the annual Lincoln Day Dinner. At Wa-Hi, Madyson is the editor-in-chief of the Wa-Hi Journal, a member of the swim team, National Honor Society and the Future Problem Solvers Club. She is also a volunteer at the Walla Walla Public Library. After graduating from high school, she plans to pursue a major in architecture at a four-year university.

Comments

stvsngltn 11 months ago

This article was a wonderful breath of fresh air for me ... especially so coming from a high school student at at time when I've worried about exactly what is (or, rather isn't) being taught in schools regarding the U.S. Constitution. BRAVO!

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