Sunday, November 01, 2009

The Chicken or the Egg?

I once asked my friend Steve what was more important to him, the freedoms granted in the Constitution, or the process defined in the Constitution for the people to perform self-governance? Don't worry, I had to explain my question to Steve as well :-D

Basically, it works out to be, what's more important - the specific freedoms we presently enjoy, or, the freedom of process to decide what rights we have as a society. For example, presently we have things like the freedom to bear arms, free speech, protections against searches and seizure, etc. as amendments to the Constitution. But what if those amendments changed in a legal and valid fashion?

The Constitution defines the process for amending itself (you can't repeal an amendment if you want to remove it, you have to pass an amendment nullifying a different amendment) that requires Congressional approval followed by 3/4 of the states ratifying that amendment via a Constitutional Convention. Sound complicated? It's supposed to be.

So why do I bring this up? I was recently made aware of a group called "Oath Keepers" that got me thinking about this again. Intrigued, I spent an hour or so reading their website. It's quite the noble organization, but I found some discrepancies I simply couldn't just dismiss. Their mission statement reads as follows:

"Oath Keepers is a non-partisan association of currently serving military, reserves, National Guard, veterans, Peace Officers, and Fire Fighters who will fulfill the Oath we swore, with the support of like minded citizens who take an Oath to stand with us, to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, so help us God. Our Oath is to the Constitution."

I'm good with that, makes sense as I see it. But once I kept reading, I discovered their Declarations, which begins as such:

"Recognizing that we each swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and affirming that we are guardians of the Republic, of the principles in our Declaration of Independence, and of the rights of our people, we affirm and declare the following:"

and then it goes on to list the 10 orders they will not follow, the first of which reads "1. We will NOT obey orders to disarm the American people.".


So here's the problem. Simply put, you cannot decide which amendments to the Constitution are "right" and which are "less important" when you promise to defend the Constitution. For example, WHAT IF the American people decide they no longer want to guarantee the right to bear arms, and ratify a valid, legal amendment to Constitution that removes the Second Amendment?

What now? Defend the Constitution, or defend the specific amendment? Chicken, or Egg?

Anyone who knows me knows I would say the Constitution is the more important thing. I like the way it is presently structured and support the freedoms in grants. But I support the document, the process of the people to self govern, above those amendments. I think a lot of people get caught up in the specifics of the amendments as the driving doctrine, and often miss a lot of the big picture.

All that said, if you can get 38 states to agree on ANYTHING, it's probably a no-brainer.

And what did Steve answer? He thought about it for a few weeks, and he decided the process was the thing as well, but, he also said he thought that some of the freedoms should be untouchable as well. Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz In other words, he couldn't really decide.

Chicken, or Egg?