by Daniel Gardner
If we could start over again, how would we frame a constitution? That's exactly what America's Founders faced after winning freedom from the oppressive, tyrannical government of King George. Maybe that's why they framed a constitution with what President Obama has called "a charter of negative liberties. Says what the states can't do to you. Says what the federal government can't do to you, but doesn't say what the federal government or state government must do on your behalf."
I suspect the framers of our constitution would explain that's exactly what they intended and for good reasons. They had just fought an epic revolution in which they literally defeated a government that dictated what it would and could do to its citizens.
Flash forward 226 years. Perhaps Americans fear our government as much today as any other time in our history. A Washington Post poll April 17 and 18 asked 588 adults, "Which worries you more, that the government will not go far enough to investigate terrorism because of concerns about constitutional rights, or that it will go too far in compromising constitutional rights in order to investigate terrorism?" Forty-eight percent worry the government will go too far, compared with 41 percent who worry it won't go far enough.
Seriously, do you fear a terrorist attack? How about an IRS audit? Which do you reasonably fear more?
Have you noticed how elite government types from Barack Obama to Dick Cheney agree the federal government must be given leeway to spy secretly on Americans' phone records and Internet activities? Talk about strange bedfellows! What justification do they share? "Protecting Americans from terrorist attacks." Really?
After the big war, our Founders feared a tyrannical federal government more than attacks from foreign powers, the terrorists of their day. That's why they framed the Constitution with "negative liberties," you know, like freedom of speech and religion, freedom to petition the government, freedom to bear arms, freedom from random widespread government search and seizure of private property without due cause, all those things our current government has been trying to limit in the name of protecting us.
Founders even spelled out what the president had to pledge to protect: "…to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." Mr. Obama's own words show his failure to preserve, protect or defend the Constitution. He says he wants to protect Americans, but he's utterly failed to protect our Constitution. Unfortunately, he's not the only one in Washington who's failed to protect our Constitution. Both parties have utterly failed to protect our Constitution largely through their efforts to protect their own cushy jobs ruling over the people, the very thing our Founders tried to prevent when they wrote and ratified the Constitution.
Contrary to what elite progressives in the mainstream media and Washington advocate, we don't need a "balance" between protecting citizens' constitutional rights and protecting our security against terrorist attacks. The original 911 strengthened our national unity and resolve to remain united. IRS's targeting conservative groups for their political views, NSA's capturing phone and Internet activity of all Americans, threatening reporters with prosecution for doing their jobs, and outright lying to the American people about Benghazi, Fast and Furious, and any number of other political cover-ups have divided our nation.
Americans no longer trust Washington for so many good reasons.