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Constitutional Literacy

Counter-CutIn a previous essay I reviewed and recommended that everyone watch “Politics Easy as P.I.E.”  The fundamental truth demonstrated in that series of videos is that American prosperity is the direct result of the freedoms we have enjoyed as a society.  The equation is simple:  No freedom, no prosperity.

Our freedoms are guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.  But how solid are those guarantees?  They are only as solid as we the people – each generation – make it.  And unfortunately, those freedoms are easily lost, as evidenced by the recent ObamaCare fiasco.  Today those guarantees appear to be little more than the vague promise of a sunny day tomorrow by an unreliable weatherman.

Is that really the case?  To answer that question I recommend that everyone become familiar with the original intent of the Constitution and its current interpretation by viewing “Constitutional Literacy” with Michael Farris (Links provided at the end of this review).

The Constitution

Think of the Constitution as the map for our country, created by individuals who actually walked the territory[1].  It defines the areas of safe operation (liberty), and the areas of dangerous operation (tyranny).   As long as we operate within its limitations and guidelines, we will remain free and prosperous.  Step outside those boundaries and we are at risk of losing our freedoms and prosperity.

Unfortunately we are now operating in uncharted waters outside the boundaries of the constitution with neither a reliable map nor a working compass.[2]  Our leaders ignore the warnings and are like the captain of the Titanic: Oblivious to the dangers on the horizon because they are secure in their personal self-confidence and certain of their infallibility.  Thus they ignore, do not study, and do not understand the original intent of the map.  We all know what happened to the Titanic…

So how can we, the people, change this dangerous situation?  We can become educated in the Constitution and select leaders who share our views and can lead us to safety.

Constitutional Perspectives

I decided to do just that and purchased a copy of “Constitutional Literacy” by Michael Farris.  Dr. Farris is a strict constructionist[3] with an impressive background in constitutional law.  He interprets the Constitution as it was written and originally applied.  He ties his arguments back to original documents.

His approach contrasts with today’s practice of saying that the constitution is simply a “living document” to be interpreted and twisted any way we wish to suit our immediate opinions.  This modern approach considers the Constitution outdated and inappropriate for modern times, a document that should be molded through creative interpretation to meet the need of the moment.  That’s kind of like saying that a map is a living document and we can reinterpret the symbols of shoals to mean good harbor, bays to mean open seas, and so forth.  It may sound preposterous but it’s exactly what the modern “pliable” approach does.

Evaluation of “Constitutional Literacy” DVDs

Dr. Farris is well credentialed and the series is weighty:  It comprises 5 DVDs that will need about  6 – 7 hours total to view.  The price is also quite steep at $95 per set.  But it is definitely worth every penny and every moment.[4]

Dr. Farris is not a scare-monger, nor does he allow his personal biases to distort his analysis.  He factually analyzes the legal situation exactly as it would be argued (and in cases was argued) before the Supreme Court, then reviews and evaluates the various court decisions in light of the Constitution, and lets the viewer draw his own conclusion.

There are 25 episodes, 10-15 minutes each on key Consitutional sections and topics.  Frankly, I expected to get bored after the second episode because history and law can be pretty dry topics.

But that wasn’t the case at all.  Dr. Farris totally captured my interest!  I typically ended up watching an entire disk at a time!  He showed how the Constitution and its interpretation related to my personal liberty and prosperity, and how our children may one day wake up living in poverty under a tyrannical government if we don’t change course.

These are strong words, I know.  But I had no idea how far off course we have wandered until Dr. Farris laid it out clearly.  Though I had a vague, uneasy feeling that something is amiss, I had no clue about the magnitude and immediacy of the danger.

Recommendation

The presentation is engaging and in many cases riveting.  That’s saying a lot for an attorney standing in front of a camera and talking!  Oh, there are some pictures and stuff, but there is also a lot of very captivating information packaged so a layman can understand the legal nuances.  The series is outstanding and should be viewed by every citizen.

If we, the people, allow the constitution to be mangled and nullified, we will certainly lose our freedoms.  And if we lose our freedoms, so will our children.  Furthermore, we will be consigning our children to lives of hopeless poverty for a long, long time.  Once freedom is lost, it is extremely difficult to recover.

It is our civic duty to understand the original intent of the constitution and our current state.  This is fundamental to our liberty and a test of character for this generation.  Let us not fail this critical test.

Links

Home page:  http://www.constitutionreclaimed.com/index.html

Selected video segments are also available on-line for free:

Historic Perspective:  http://www.constitutionreclaimed.com/MLK.html
The National Debt:  http://www.constitutionreclaimed.com/ConstitutionalityofDebt.html
Parental Rights:  http://www.constitutionreclaimed.com/Media.html


[1] The Founding Fathers experienced both freedom and tyranny.  They knew the difference between self-governance and the heavy hand of an uncaring remote government.  They knew the difference between religious freedom and forced state religion.  They knew the difference between opportunity to succeed and guaranteed success because they saw both success and failure.  Our generation has not experienced these conditions; thus I fear we are losing our ability to differentiate.

[2] Even our Supreme Court Justices dismiss the Constitution as “inappropriate” for modern times.  See “Beware Judicial Tyranny on Steroids”.  See also Justice Ruth Bader’s comments about the South African Constitution:
http://www.hoover.org/publications/defining-ideas/article/113041
http://dailycaller.com/2012/02/06/justice-ginsburg-causes-storm-dissing-the-constitution-while-abroad/

[3] See http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/conlaw/interp.html for a discussion of various theories of constitutional interpretation.  (A strict constructionist is equivalent to an originalist.)

[4] I recommend “group study.”  That way the cost can be shared and salient points better understood in group discussions.  Dr. Farris also provides teaching materials, but I did not evaluate those.

All is not as it looks

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