September 17th each year marks the historic moment in “the year of our Lord 1787” when the Constitution was signed in Philadelphia.
This was a great milestone in world history. More of the constitutions around the world have been patterned after our nation’s governing document than any other frame of government.
But today the Constitution seems to not be appreciated by many in our culture, including in academia, in the media, in entertainment, even in our government.
A couple of months ago on a bike ride in South Florida, I stopped to photograph something that seemed to me to be a metaphor for our current disrespect for the Constitution.
Someone was throwing out in the trash, along with discarded foliage, a faded, sun-bleached, framed reprint of a classic painting of the founding fathers during the Constitutional Convention.
I thought, how fitting these days – just throwing out the U.S. Constitution with the morning trash. I have already written about a commentator saying on “The View” that that document was “trash” – he used that very term.
Earlier this year I did a radio segment with Dr. Daniel Dreisbach of American University, in which we discussed that particular painting and how the Bible impacted the writing of the Constitution. Dreisbach has noted the open Bible, which can be seen in the bottom right-hand corner of the picture.
Meanwhile, polls show that many younger Americans do not appreciate what we have in this nation with our Constitution.
For example, Axios noted that patriotism is down: “Pride in national identity is lowest among those 18-34, and illustrates the fracture between young Americans and older generations at a time of deep partisanship in the United States.”
And the problem is not just among young people, adds Axios: “The percentage of U.S. adults of all ages polled who say they are ‘extremely proud’ to be American remains near a record low, per Gallup.”
Earlier this year, Fox News reported, on a controversy in North Carolina - not the most liberal state around. The gist of the story is that the state’s legislature wanted key American historical documents to be taught in our schools, including “the U.S. Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Emancipation Proclamation, at least five essays from the Federalist Papers, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Letter from Birmingham Jail and the Gettysburg Address.”
But nearly 700 professors at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill objected enough to sign a petition against the measure. Fox News writes: “The professors argue the legislation ‘violates core principles of academic freedom’ and ‘substitutes ideological force-feeding for the intellectual expertise of faculty.’"
Many of our cultural elites view our Constitution as out of date and worth ignoring. But the fact of the matter is the founders bequeathed to the world a governing document that is still working. Millions of people have benefited from the Constitution.
For my series of films on how Christianity helped give birth to American liberty, I was privileged to interview the late Dr. Walter Williams. Dr. Williams taught at George Mason University and even guest-hosted for Rush Limbaugh on several occasions. He also wrote a weekly column.
Dr. Williams told our audience: “I think that the United States Constitution has been very valuable just considering the evidence. Number one, we still have the Constitution, although, it’s not obeyed all the time. But the Constitution has led to the richest and the most powerful nation on the face of this earth and the greatest amount of personal liberty that people enjoy, that is the people try to get to the United States, people want to live in the United States, they want to become American citizens. And the reason why is the liberty that we have.”
A key reason why the Constitution has been so successful is that it was based on a realistic assessment of human nature – that found in the Scriptures and affirmed by all of history. Man is sinful, and therefore power should be diffused among many. The separation of powers is necessary to keep some from oppressing others, as is in our nature to do.
James Madison, a key architect of the Constitution, noted, “All men having power ought to be distrusted.”
As Alexander Hamilton, delegate from New York to the Constitutional Convention, once said: “The triumphs of Vice are no new things under the sun. And I fear, ’till the Millennium comes, in spite of all our boasted light and purification—hypocrisy and Treachery will continue to be the most successful commodities in the political Market.” (The Millennium refers to the Second Coming of Christ.)
Whatever the reason someone was throwing out the picture of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, the fact is that the Constitution is worth keeping in high regard. It has brought liberty to millions, and it continues to do so.