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Written by Holyoke Enterprise   

“Expiration Date” By Matt Wilcox

Turn back time about 225 years; scarcely more than a decade removed from the Yorktown victory, the infant United States of America forges a document to clad our liberties in high carbon steel. The words “We the People,” emblazoned in elegant, flowing script, would come to be an internationally known insignia of liberty and equality.

Jump to more recent times; as the technoid era begins to close its iron grip on the world, new complications arise and traditional thinking is questioned. Despite the constant change we are experiencing, can we really deduce that the Constitution has expired?

It is an interesting proposition; to question if age has depreciated the validity of our country’s founding manuscript, but how obscene it sounds to interrogate about the Constitution’s, well, constitutionality.

Think of it this way: What would Thomas Jefferson, who owned slaves himself, think of Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream? In a time where amputees’ “sedatives” were four strong men holding down their limbs, what would the populous have to say about taxation on those who do not buy health insurance?

It’s hard to say; what isn’t difficult to understand is that the amendments were necessary for the Constitution’s survival. It wasn’t as if the Constitution was written poorly or the framers overlooked certain issues; it was simply a different time. The amendments were perpetuated in order for the Constitution to evolve proportionately with the people it protected and retain its relevancy as new technologies and discoveries pressed the nation forward.

An elderly man in his rocking chair would simply lean back and say, “Times have changed, son.”

That’s not to say the amendments have made a Constitution which is devoid of flaws; it isn’t, and was never going to be. At that time, a gun’s firing rate was determined by how fast your soldier could ram the ball and powder down his musket barrel. With modern weapons, however, even a novice marksman can squeeze the trigger and send in excess of 1,000 rounds downrange per minute.

It’s difficult to say if the framers would think the gun laws which are being debated in the present day to be a violation of the Second Amendment. But one could also question the validity of new laws in and of themselves; the laws are meant to keep high-performance weaponry out of the hands of criminals, but criminals, by nature, don’t obey the law.

The Columbine massacre happened when the Federal Assault Weapons Ban was in effect. It finally expired in 2004, but if it had worked the way it was promised, we should’ve seen a significant drop in gun violence during the years it was active.

This sparked much controversy as to what exactly was encompassed in the Second Amendment. We may never find the perfect balance between preventing lethal crimes without compromising our right to bear arms, but this doesn’t invalidate the Constitution.

When the Constitution was written we had only just won our freedom from British rule. People will heatedly debate the validity of that document for years to come, but my stance will remain the same: If the Constitution were irrelevant, would we still even be a nation?

If history has shown us anything, it’s that nothing lasts forever. The modern age has brought about new issues, and it’s easy to become jumbled and caught up in politics and protocols. In previous years, it seems, people thought simpler and with a bold clarity which has been lost. We chose to go to the moon in that decade and do the other things not because they are easy, but because they are hard.

We had a dream that one day our children would not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. A man once said, “The power under the Constitution will always be in the people.” His name was George Washington; you may have heard of him.

The most important driving force of our nation is not Congress, it’s not he House of Representatives, and it’s not the president. It’s the Constitution. If that is irrelevant, is our country as well?

 

By Savanna Krueger

Long ago, when our United States Constitution was written and completed, it was said to be “the greatest single effort of national deliberation that the world has ever seen.”

Well, at least that is how America’s second president and first vice president, John Adams, labeled it.

Way back, in 1780, the well-known Massachusetts Constitution, written by Adams himself, secured the state’s government most meticulously on his political views and personal beliefs.

That specific constitution was the very first to be written by a special committee and then commissioned by the people. Along with John Adams’ opinions and the outcome of the first state constitution, the citizens believed that the formation of a national constitution was an important move forward. But, it did not matter what they believed; obviously it was up to the government to decide and take action.

The history-changing Constitutional Convention was held secretly. The reason it was held in confidence was so that the committee members could speak their minds as freely as needed without public pressure. They also knew, deep down inside, that the states would not support the decisions that they were going to make for the country.

Now, if you think about it, the initial Constitutional Convention I am speaking of was far too long ago for anyone to have been there. It was all the way back in 1787.

To be more specific, it was Sept. 17. Plenty of citizens, yet today, recall that year and day to be one of the most significant and permanent changes in recorded history.

With that in mind, have you ever thought about how the United States Constitution applies to our present day and time? Or, why we never had another Convention? I know I sure have, along with the United States government, which is proposing whether a new Constitutional Convention to update our laws would be a positive action.

My political view of a new Convention or Constitution is that there is no need of it.

I feel as long as we have the right to amend the Constitution, it stays current with our needs and rights. The amendments have made it so that our laws and rights remain up-to-date and stay relevant to the changing needs of the people it protects.

One of the major amendments to the original Constitution was the 13th Amendment. This clause was declared on Dec. 6, 1865 and it states that slavery was abolished as a legal institution. Another amendment I believe changed us as a country is the 19th Amendment, which gives women the right to vote and speak about what they believe. Truthfully, these are not the only amendments that are important to our Constitution; they are all crucial as a whole document.

It there was no Constitution, there would be no government as we know it. We would be missing out on the order and justice that protects each and every one of us. We have rights that our religion, race, age and sex do not matter, nor how much money we make. Without our current government, the person or group with the most money would probably be in control of our nation.

Women and African Americans are undoubtedly treated better now than they were 200 years ago. This goes along with the goal that states “all men are created equal,” according to the Declaration of Independence.

All of these facts have certainly made our United States Constitution just the way it should be. It is organized and simply states our rights to freedom and protection.

So, as you can see, there are many reasons why I believe the Constitution is still relevant today. Although some people deny that our laws are still valid, I am proud to stand up for what I believe. How could this document that has allowed our country to grow and thrive over the years be irrelevant?

The laws and ideas are not outdated because of the amendments written in and ultimately voted on by representatives of our great country.

We must protect ourselves by standing on the United States Constitution, which is the foundation of this country.

Stand strong with me and this nation for our generation and those after us and support our Constitution and all that it stands for. God bless our America.

 

By Erin Vieselmeyer

From the American Flag to the Stature of Liberty to the United States Constitution, Americans can witness the many symbols that represent the success of our nation.

Each symbol remains as an object of reverence and an object of admiration for nearly all Americans. The United States Constitution still stands as one of the most respected and influential documents created by our Founding Fathers. Although it has been changed and amended, the basis of every right still resides.

Two hundred years ago, the government needed a set of principles to guide our nation, and even today our government would not work without the Constitution.

The Constitution was created and amended to fit the ever-changing ways of our society. The United States Constitution sets us as a nation apart from the rest of the world and allows every citizen his or her own rights.

There is no government that can function without the discipline of constitutional rules laid out as principles to follow.

“A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.”

Is the Constitution still relevant?

Many may say yes, it still plays a big part in our government’s decisions; others may say it is only the foundation of America and has been forgotten. Who would have thought this simple piece of paper would lead the greatest nation in the world?

The Constitution is a pile of rocks; each piece of the Constitution represents a rock in this pile, that together form one of the greatest historical documents of our time.

In this document we find the freedom of speech, democracy, and the most honorable service given to our military force.

The freedom of speech is one of the most significant rights and rocks given to the American people. Martin Luther King Jr. found uses for the freedom of speech to promote the ideas of inequality he saw in our country, which he showed in his “I Have a Dream” speech.

This speech was powerful, impactful and led to the civil rights movement. The key message through his speech was every person is created equal and should have the basic set of rights and freedoms. He argued powerfully and passionately on an issue that was not popular at this time.

He was one of the many Americans who found the importance of the meaning of the words written in the Constitution.

Democracy is a rock of freedom. It allows citizens to elect their leaders, to change their leaders, to vote for new leaders—elections that are free and fair.

Each of these rights is found within the Constitution. The 2012 election between Governor Romney and President Obama is an example of free and fair choice to campaign, and the people are given a free and fair choice to elect whomever they feel is the most capable.

Each right is an important piece in building the foundation we call our United States Constitution. Democracy in itself and of itself gives Americans their liberty and equality. These privileges are basic requirements for a good society.

The rock in the pile that represents our military embodies the true greatness of our Constitution. There is honor in serving our great country and defending the principles on which it is built.

The Founding Fathers knew this to be true and encouraged it. They knew an organized military could respond to both domestic and foreign threats.

Mackenzie Eaglen said, “The experience of the Founders convinced them that no peace was so secure that it could be relied upon with assurance, and no nation was so safe that it did not need to maintain sound and reliable defenses.”

The Founding Fathers understood how important the great purpose in view was liberty of the people under the protection of effective military and government.

Our nation continues to be built around the basic ideas of the Constitution, our rock pile. A fair form of government where there is equality through freedom of speech, democracy and the honor in serving in the military. Each rock builds this pile to paint a picture in our heads, making it the greatest masterpiece ever created by any group of men seeking truth, justice and an American way of life.

 

By Logan Tharp

As we are all aware, the Constitution of the United States was written following the American Revolution in the late 1700s. The Constitution is what we as the people thrive on. The rights of the individual and the duties and responsibilities of the federal government are enforced in its contents.

This document defines the relationship between the individual citizen and their government. The Bill of Rights provides all citizens with the liberties we hold so dear. The powers that the government can exercise for and against its citizens are determined by our Constitution.

Since the Constitution was written, more than 200 years have passed. This passage of time has witnessed numerous changes in our society, culture and political philosophies.

We have evolved from primarily an agricultural economy to a nation of large industrial centers surrounded by massive urban areas. Man has walked on the moon, and technology has seen the computer and Internet become factors in the average person’s life.

Each generation has grown farther from the generations before.

Others maintain a belief that the Constitution is absolute in its contents and that the rights and powers put forth in it transcend the passage of time. They feel that the document is sacred and any attempt to change it is actually an attempt to fundamentally change that which has kept our country great for all this time.

In their minds, the Founding Fathers never intended the Constitution to be changed. They disagree with the people who believe that the Constitution should be changed and others in government who seek to change this great document for the people.

To me, the Constitution is like a contract. It is an agreement between the government and the citizens of this country. The question is, is it appropriate for either party in a contract to attempt to change the terms of that contract? Should one side or the other find that the contract is not adequate for their needs, can it simply be rewritten?

I believe that the Constitution is relevant. The Founding Fathers made room for changes as time went on. There is no need for the Constitution to be rewritten when the necessary steps were taken to prepare the Constitution for future issues. When I say the Constitution was prepared, I mean that room for changes were made.

There are many examples to demonstrate what I mean. Women were not allowed to vote at first, but an amendment was made which allowed women to have the same rights as men. There was also a time in American history where alcohol was banned. The sale, distribution and consumption of alcohol were not allowed. The government then realized that this was causing more crime and violence than they had expected and they then overturned that amendment.

These all came out after society had changed, and changes needed to be made to adapt to the current era.

The more I think about the Constitution, the more I think about a contract. A contract has certain terms and agreements that parties must follow, and changes can be made to it if the parties agree, just like the Constitution. If the government and the people it affects agree on the terms of it and think that it will better our nation, then we should go ahead and make the Constitution adapt to the current era.

The Constitution is not just an old document signed in ink by a bunch of men; it is signed by blood. Soldiers shed their blood to defend this document and make sure that this document protected the citizens of this country.

Therefore, I believe it is like an estate that is passed from generation to generation. It is our legacy. As a result of this sacrifice, the Constitution is and will always be relevant.

It is incumbent upon each generation to live up to the lofty values put forth by the Founding Fathers. They were wise enough to provide the wisdom that is the Constitution to sustain our country.

Let us be wise enough to use this document as they intended, to utilize the tools they provided to shape this document as time passes and to understand the meaning that it contains.


Holyoke Enterprise November 15, 2012