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We the people speak

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The first three words of the Preamble or introduction to the Constitution of the United States – “We the people,” establishes the basis of power upon which the founders wrote and ratified the Constitution in 1788; the main purpose of which was to insure justice, tranquility, defense, welfare, liberty and (hopefully) a “perfect union” of the 13 colonial states.[1]

The United States Constitution is claimed to be the oldest surviving written instrument of government in the world. Reportedly, there isn’t any country today without a Constitution or something like one.

The intention of the American Constitution is to keep political power in check and force good politicians to work for “the common good;” namely, freedom, justice and equality for all citizens.”[2] Bad politicians are those described in Harold Lasswell’s book entitled Politics - Who Gets What, When and How.[3]

At times it seems there are more bad American politicians than good ones. The result is that “We the people” speak, but those running the political system don’t seem to listen. It’s as though the Preamble was flipped backward to read: When the government speaks, people must listen.

In a monarchy, when a King, Czar, Sultan or Shogun speaks, it’s the people who must listen. Consequently, monarchs go about their business and consult only their own interests when designing policies and enacting laws.

It’s the fear of monarchism, among other reasons, that it took 10 months for the first nine of the 13 states to ratify the Constitution. The other four states weren’t buying the idea of a central government at all, mainly because it lacked a Bill of Rights. And, they thought the central government grabbed too much power at the expense of states rights.

The history of the United States Constitution makes an overriding, but simple point. That is: It’s justified to fear and fight against too much government power in any segment of American life. The 13 colonial states suffered immensely in blood and treasure to banish too much government power on American citizens, not only from external forces, but internal as well.

Nevertheless, our forebears did leave future generations with a warning and a solution of immeasurable value for diminishing excessive government power. It’s embodied in the first three words of the United States Constitution, they are: We the people.

Thanks for reading


[1] Constitution was signed in 1787, ratified in 1788, and took effect 1789 with Washington as President.

[2] Is Democracy Possible?, essay by Professor Robert Maynard Hutchins

[3] Harold Dwight Lasswell, was a leading American political scientist and communications theorist, Professor of Law, Yale University

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