Posted By David Bozarth on June 24, 2016
In this day and age of political correctness, overreaching big government, and political corruption out the ying-yang, sometimes it’s good to get a little simplicity. Most of the time, these simple things hide in plain site and most of us overlook them. When we’re looking for complex solutions, or problems we almost certainly look for the complex answer to them.
For those of us old enough to remember word problems in Math class, we can clearly remember the times we got sucked into working out a long solution to a problem when the answer was right there. Often in Facebook we find these simple problems posted, just to discover who will actually get the correct answer.
Well, the same holds true within the Constitution. In our attempts to restore, or recover the Constitutional principles in our Federal Government of the United States, we will do the same thing. Yes, I’m just as guilty. We reach into the archives of the past and read the archaic language of the writings of the Founding Fathers, “The Federalist Papers,” “The Anti-Federalist Papers,” the minutes of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, the writings of James Madison, George Washington, the early Congressional Records. Okay, I am probably very unique, as I consider all of these sources to help with obtaining an original understanding of the Constitution before it was corrupted in the Twentieth Century.
One day, while reading the Constitution, probably in preparation for one of these articles, one of those little, simple thing hit me like a bolt of lightning. Could it possibly be that simple? Initially, I was very perplexed, and thought it couldn’t be that easy. So, I sat on it, just let it “stew” for a while.
We in the community of those who believe in the strict interpretation of the Constitution cite many different sources. We assert the claim that the Constitution was intended for Federal Government, to keep it small and in check to the greater power of the States. There are numerous times we refer to the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, showing how those powers and rights not mentioned in the Constitution are reserved for the people and the States. We pursue the logical conclusion that the greater powers were reserved for the States.
But the Civil War changed all of that. Okay, okay, the “War of Northern Aggression.” (I really love how they address this was in Charleston, SC… “The Most Recent Unpleasantness.”) This singular event in American history did more to begin the destruction the power of the States than anything that preceded it.
In schools, colleges, universities, the halls of the political world, the meeting rooms of grassroots organizations, private conversations, and on and on, the Constitution is often mentioned. When it’s mentioned we invariably use the full phrase, “The Constitution of the United States.” But, take a closer look, there is no title or name on the original version. (This image was downloaded from The National Archives website.) We don’t see the title “Constitution of the United States” inscribed across the top. Rather, we are struck by the very large size of “We the People.” In fact, “We the People” is the largest phrase printed in the entire document. Yes, “We the People” is the most important phrase in the entire document.
Okay, I know, you all knew that, but this isn’t what I found. The very important, simple discovery resides on the third line. I know, this image is hard to read, so, I’ll make it easy for us. Here are the words of the Preamble:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Did you notice what I’m referring to? (Okay, English majors, I know, I ended the sentence with a preposition. VERY bad. Get over it.) But, again, did you see the simple item to which I’m referring?
Here let me make it obvious, “…do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” This is so simple, no wonder it is overlooked.
We’ve been conditioned to call it “The Constitution OF the United States,” from our earliest days that is what we hear. Constitutional “experts” use the phrase interminably, “The Constitution OF the United States.” The media repeats it by rote, “The Constitution OF the United States.” The oaths of office for every federal employee, politician and member of the Armed Forces contain the phrase “…protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
Don’t get all up in a tizzy, I am well aware the last item comes FROM the Constitution. In fact, I copied it from the last paragraph of Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution.
But, it is that phrase within the Preamble which makes a huge difference in our understanding. The simple difference between the two words “of” and “for.” “Of” is defined as, “2 a — used as a function word to indicate origin or derivation.”(1) In modern terms, we can truly understand this. I am the son of my parents, I originated from them. This is the same understanding most people have regarding the Constitution. It is the Constitution of the United States. It originated, and came from the government, BUT that is an incorrect understanding.
The word “for” is quite different:
1 a —used as a function word to indicate purpose
b —used as a function word to indicate an intended goal (2)
“For” indicates almost the exact opposite of “of” when dealing with direction of intent. “For” indicates going toward something, from something else.
In the case we are looking at here, “…do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America,” reveals that the Constitution came from “We the People” through our States, and was given to the government. Again, the government did not give us the Constitution, rather, we gave it to it. We are the ultimate authorities as to what the Constitution says, and means, and NOT the other way around.
Now, to that sticky phrase in the oaths of office.
Once the government was established, as a result of our representatives in the State governments approving and ratifying the “Constitution FOR the United States,” the Federal Government became an entity. It had a document telling IT how to function. Now, the elected officials, employees and military became members of that governmental entity. Therefore, when I took the oath of office, I was stating that I would abide by, adhere to, and protect the integrity of the document the citizens had given to instruct me in the limits of the government. The Constitution is the government’s mission statement.
But, that does not change its point of origin, or who is its higher power. That higher power was, is and always will be “We the People” and the States which gave the government its “marching orders,” its “mission,” its “limitations,” it “restrictions,” and how it works. “We the People” are the final arbitors of the Constitution, and NOT the Congress, the Executive Branch, or the Judicial Branch. “We the People… do ordain and establish this Constitution FOR the United States.”
(1) “Of.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 23 June 2016.
(2) “For.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 23 June 2016.