Bela asks –
The Constitution’s got to be out of date. How could it ever be relevant to us in 2020?
Miss C explains –
This is a very logical and reasonable conclusion. How can a document written in the summer of 1787 deal with any of the issues we have today? The reason the United States Constitution is still relevant today is that it was written to deal with human nature as it existed then, existed before 1787, and exists today. The nature of humanity has not changed. Human beings have certain characteristics and have always had certain characteristics. We can reason but often don’t. We know to share but often don’t, as we can see in the “hoarding” going on relative to the pandemic the world faces now. Human beings know war is not the answer but nevertheless are constantly at war. Humanity is a combination of the generous and the wicked. What the Founders tried to do was to create a document of statecraft that would encourage the better part of humanity’s inclinations and discourage its worst.
What they decided, and what the United States Constitution reflects, is that the best way to encourage social justice and social stability is to let the individual develop to his or her full capacity without the heavy hand of oppressive government or the heavy hand of theocracy governing each move a person makes. Yes, mistakes will be made as individuals are not perfect. But overall, for the betterment of all, it was thought that limited government, diffusion of corrupting power, and protected civil and political rights would be the best way to encourage the best aspects of humanity and discourage the worst.
If one thinks of our national life as a football game, the United States Constitution is the Rule Book for that game. First, it creates the dimensions of the field, and the number of yards needed to advance, and the width of the goal posts, and so on. What it does not do is pick the teams, or pick the winning team, or see that the talent is evenly divided between the teams, or artificially elevate any player over another. The Constitution sets the Rules, interprets the Rules through the Supreme Court, and applies the Rules to current situations. Of course, since it is through individual human beings that the Rules are applied and the game is played, it will not be a perfect system. No system can be since human beings are in charge and human beings are flawed. There will always be those who hate the Rules of the game and want to avoid them. There will always be those who would steal a playbook or spy on the opponent or otherwise skew the outcome unfairly. There will always be referees who can be bribed, but by diffusing power and limiting its concentration it was hoped that the United States Constitution would remain current, fresh, and relevant and be able to handle whatever issue arises in a timeless way that will make it as valid in 2020 as it was in 1787 and will be as long as we honor it.
If we agree that humanity needs rules, then our Constitution is an invaluable set of them.