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by Janine Turner
I was driving my mother’s car the other day and I commented on how small her rearview mirrors were. My rear view mirrors are rather big because, as a Texan, I drive a large SUV I use to work my ranch. As I was looking out of her rearview mirrors, I pondered, as a Constitutionalist, my new self-definition, about whether Americans have something in common with rear view mirrors. Is the traditional American view – the basis of our country, our thesis, our founding principles, our United States Constitution – diminishing in our rearview mirrors? Are we, as a country, driving away from these founding principles?
In order to be a more perfect union in today’s environment we need to be more aware. Without awareness there can be no subsequent resulting action as citizens. Trying to evaluate legislation and governmental action without knowledge of the Constitution is rather similar to being in the passenger seat as the driver drives ahead in the dark – without headlights. An enlightened people were the hope and the engine of our new Republic in the 18th century. It is no different today.
Or maybe it is better represented as driving forward toward the results of a horrendous earthquake – an earthquake that has left a deep, uneven division. Thrust upon the divide are the clumps of dry parched land left to bake and parch in the sun – the American Republic, the America loved and cherished by many patriots of yesterday and today.
As we look into the future with an angst and a thirst for righteousness we realize we must look back in our rearview mirrors. The proper nourishment is available to cultivate the soil, to fertilize the great land of America and her people. In the rear view lays the vitamins and minerals. They are in the United States Constitution and its companion piece, The Federalist, or the Federalist Papers.
In these documents are all the answers – but solving the riddle requires reading it! We must join together in a unifying mission to become aware of what is in these great documents and to understand them. We should no longer let Washington, D.C., our representatives, the bureaucracy, or administrative officials do our thinking for us. Ignorance enables them to get away with all of the things we do not understand.
If we are to protest or approve, we must do so with a foundation of knowledge. We must educate ourselves and we must educate our children. It is like preparing for the great debate. We are either, as a nation, moving away from our Constitution, watching it minimalize in the rear view mirror, or we are turning around and driving toward it.
If we do not take action and Constitute America then we will watch as it is slowly, inch by inch, as has been done since the 20th century, diminish in view. Like a thief in the night our Constitutional ideals are being usurped from us, politically and culturally.
But if we do a 180 and turn around, shining the headlights of our car on the Constitution, then we may set off a momentum that will shift our country back to its founding principles. A government envisioned by our forefathers – a small government with checks and balances and accountability to its people.
“If we see it, we will come.” As a nation we must turn around and turn on the headlights.
The darkness will call out to us, “But wait, the Constitution isn’t relevant today!” Is the Constitution relevant today? Well, how about Federalist paper #62 dealing with the rules of the Senate, written by James Madison,
It will be of little avail to the people, that
the laws are made by men of their own choice,
if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before
they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes, that no man who knows what the law is today, can guess what it will be tomorrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known or less fixed.
How about words in Federalist Paper #1 written by Alexander Hamilton,
An enlightened zeal for the energy and efficiency
of government, will be stigmatized as the offspring
of a temper fond of power, and hostile to the
principles of liberty.
Timely are the warnings in Federalist Paper #10 by Alexander Hamilton,
Men of factious tempers, of local prejudices, or
of sinister designs, may by intrigue, by corruption,
or by other means, first obtain the suffrages, and
then betray the interests of the people.
Relevant today? Yes!
Like a candle lighted in the window, our founding fathers words in the Constitution and the Federalist Papers are illuminating the way. They call out from their arduously designed documents and copious papers to guide us toward the safe keeping of our republic. They echo forth the call of wisdom, the ways to confining tyranny and the despotism that precedes the loss of liberty.
We the People in order to PRESERVE our union must unite in not only standing up but standing firm in our principles and our resolve to be educated patriots. Let us not let the genius of our forefathers who mutually pledged to each other, “our Lives, our Fortunes and our Sacred Honor” or our Revolutionary soldiers who crossed the Delaware walking barefoot on the ice, leaving a bloodstained path, turn over in their graves.
Let us do 90 readings in 90 days – as 90 plus 90 equals 180! Let us turn around, do a 180, and seek the history that holds the key to our future. Let us read the United States Constitution and the Federalist Papers in 90 days, 5 days for the Constitution and 85 days for the 85 Federalist Papers. Read it with your children at the dinner table or before bed. It will only be about three pages a night. Let us have a national discussion one day at a time, one paper at a time, for 90 days at www.constitutingamerica.org Let’s start on April 20th. Let’s do 90 in 90 and do a 180 – back to the history that yields our future.
April 5, 2010
Janine Turner is an actress and the founder and co-chairman of “Constituting America.” For more visit www.constitutingamerica.org
A version of this op-ed was published on FOXNews.com on April 7, 2010