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When Americans limit ourselves to the narrow viewpoints of the “left” or the “right,” it often compels us to defend the position of “our” camp without giving due respect the perspectives of all Americans.
Every liberal and every conservative believes with all their heart that they have morality on their side. They believe that they are right, and that the other side has a warped view of the world.
Living among people with differing views is part of our American legacy. It began with the first settlers of our country, who came here to practice their faith freely. America is sometimes called a melting pot, but a more accurate description would be a stew of perspectives and backgrounds. Some of us are carrots, others are potatoes.
The United States is a republic
Although we vote for our representatives in democratic elections, the word democracy doesn’t even appear in the Constitution.
How does our Constitutional Republic differ from an absolute democracy? The US government was designed to defend the minority as well as the majority opinion. A total democracy without laws to provide protection for the minority becomes mob rule. For example, without such protections, if 51% of the population decided that everyone should go to church on Sundays, or that it should be illegal to eat meat, the majority could pass a law dictating how the rest of us had to live our lives.
If we are going to maintain a free republic ruled by the people, we must bear in mind that sometimes meeting the needs of one group is mutually exclusive of meeting the needs of another. Gay citizens want the right to legitimize their unions, while some churches reserve the right to condone heterosexual unions only. Sometimes we’re just not going to agree. That’s what makes us individuals.
A free society requires that we set aside our personal agendas and accept that others are free to live a lifestyle with which we are opposed. We are all free to rally, protest, and otherwise try to persuade others to think like us, but as long as they aren’t directly hurting others in the process, we shouldn’t be able to compel their actions by law.
A centralized federal government can’t resolve it all
What becomes sticky is the definition of ‘hurting others.’ There are pro-life believers who liken themselves to abolitionists: they feel that they’re standing up for the indefensible who can’t speak for themselves. On the other hand, pro-choice advocates believe that pinpointing the start of human life is subjective, so the government shouldn’t be able to tell a woman what she can do with her own body.
We must accept that it’s impossible to find a resolution that will appease both sides. Too often who we vote for in a national election becomes bogged down by subjects that should be irrelevant, distracting us from crucial national matters.
Defining when life begins is not under the constitutional jurisdiction of the federal government. Therefore, the true legal authority belongs to the states. As discussed in my last post, the same holds true for many of the issues on the national stage today, such as drug legalization, gun control and gay marriage. States need not conform on every law. This allows Americans the option to pick a home within our vast and varied nation that best fits their beliefs and lifestyles.
The proper way vs. the dangerous way to modify the Constitution
Our Constitution was designed to be the basis for all our federal laws. But times and sensitivities have changed in the past 237 years. That’s why when there is unified, national agreement about something not specified in the Constitution we can pass an amendment. An amendment, which requires approval by three-fourths of the states, ensures overwhelming support. The Bill of Rights, the abolition of slavery, and women’s right to vote all came from amendments.
Today politicians in Washington often finds it more expedient to simply ignore constitutional limits, considering their own causes more vital than protecting the viewpoints of all citizens. Examples include the federal administration’s continued raids on legal medicinal marijuana shops; the Edith Windsor tax case, in which the IRS refused to recognize Windsor’s legal marriage to her female partner under New York law; and President Obama’s trip to Connecticut to push for new gun control legislation.
Not adhering to the Constitution gives our federal government arbitrary power. Arbitrary power is a danger to any free republic.
That’s my opinion. What’s yours?