THE SEVEN PRINCIPLES OF THE CONSTITUTION
Who Gives the Government Its Power?
“We the people of the United States . . .establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” These words from the Preamble, or introduction, to the Constitution clearly spell out the source of the government’s power: The People.
The American form of government emphasizes freedom, democracy, and the importance of the individual. The Constitution rests on the idea of popular sovereignty--a government in which the people rule. As the nation changed and grew, popular sovereignty took on new meaning. A broader range of Americans shared in the power to govern themselves.
How Are People’s Views Represented in Government?
The Framers of the Constitution (the people who created the constitution) wanted the people to have a voice in government. Yet the Framers also feared that public opinion might stand in the way of sound decision making. To solve this problem, they looked to republicanism as a model of government. In Republicanism, the people exercise their power by voting for their political representatives.
According to the Framers, these chosen lawmakers played the key role in making a republican government work. An important part of Republicanism is the idea that citizens stay informed about politics and participate in the process by voting.
How Is Power Shared?
The Framers wanted the states and the nation to become partners in governing. To build cooperation, the Framers turned to federalism. Federalism is a system of government in which power is divided between a central government and smaller political units, such as states.
In the early years of the United States, federalism was closely related to dual sovereignty, the idea that the powers of the federal government and the states were clearly defined, and each had exclusive power over their own spheres with little overlap. This view of federalism led to states’ rights conflicts, which were contributing factors in the Civil War. The Framers used federalism to structure the Constitution. The Constitution assigns certain powers to the national government. These are delegated powers. Powers kept by the states are reserved powers. An example of this would be that the national government set the minimum voting age for every state, and the states set the minimum driving age in their own state
How Is Power Divided?
The Framers were concerned that too much power might fall into the hands of a single group. To avoid this problem, they built the idea of separation of powers into the Constitution. This Separation of Powers means the division of basic government roles into branches. No one branch is given all the power. Articles 1, 2, and 3 of the Constitution detail how powers are split among the three branches.
How Is Power Evenly Distributed?
Baron de Montesquieu, an 18th-century French thinker, wrote, “Power should be a check to power.” His comment refers to the principle of checks and balances. In the principle of Checks and Balances each branch of government can exercise checks, or controls, over the other branches. Though the branches of government are separate, they rely on one another to perform the work of government.
The Framers included a system of checks and balances in the Constitution to help make sure that the branches work together fairly. For example, only Congress can pass laws. Yet the president can check this power by refusing to sign a law into action. In turn, the Supreme Court can declare that a law, passed by Congress and signed by the president, violates the Constitution.
How Is Abuse of Power Prevented?
The Framers restricted the power of government. This is known as the principle of Limited Government. Article 1, Section 9, of the Constitution lists the powers denied to the Congress. Article 1, Section 10, forbids the states to take certain actions. The principle of limited government is also closely related to the “rule of law”: In the American government everyone, citizens and powerful leaders alike, must obey the law. Individuals or groups cannot twist or bypass the law to serve their own interests.
How Are Personal Freedoms Protected?
The first ten amendments to the Constitution shield people from an overly powerful government. These amendments are called the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights guarantees certain individual rights, or personal liberties and privileges. For example, government cannot control what people write or say. People also have the right to meet peacefully and to ask the government to correct a problem. Later amendments to the Constitution also advanced the cause of individual rights.
Complete the following for each of the Seven Principles.
1. Describe what each principle means.
2. Give an example of how each principle works.
EQ: Why are the Seven Principles of the U.S. Constitution an effective way to guard against tyranny?
SEVEN PRINCIPLES RAP BY WILL RUPERT - DOWELL
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The 7 Principles keeps the Gov in Check
The 7 Principles all geared to protect
The 7 Principles was the resolution
The 7 Principles of the Constitution
Popular Sovereignty means the People Rule.
It starts from the jump with “We the People“.
You wanna Rock my Vote you better represent
Cause you can only govern with the Peoples consent
Republicanism is how we elect.
Officials carry out our Will, our vote keeps them in Check.
The people pick their Reps whether rich or poor.
It’s all laid out in Article 4 Section 4
Federalism says dividing Power is great
It’s power divided between the Nation and States
It gives the National Gov the power to Govern effectively
While reserving certain Powers to State Supremacy
Separation of Powers divides the power equally.
Between the 3 branches of Government in Articles 1, 2, and 3.
Each branches Power is specifically assigned
To Keep the Leg, Exec, and Judicial all in line
Checks and Balances give each branch the power to Check
On all the other branches so there’s no chance they wreck.
This power to check is laid out specifically
They’re told just how to do it in Articles 1, 2, and 3
Limited Government tells the Gov what it can and can’t do.
It’s designed to protect the rights of me and you.
It limits Gov Authority in the best interest of all
Assures Nobody in America is above the Law
Individual Rights is how we all have a role.
Protects our precious freedoms from Government control.
Freedom of Speech and Religion were worth the fight.
So they laid them out in the Bill of Rights.
Brainwashed in our childhood
Brainwashed by the school...
Brainwashing us in Washington...
Brainwashed by the media...
Brainwashed by computer
Brainwashed by mobile phones
Brainwashed by the satellite
Brainwashed to the bone.
-- George Harrison, "Brainwashed"
Precisely because Americans are easily distracted -- because, as study after study shows, they are clueless about their rights -- and because the nation's schools have ceased teaching the fundamentals of the Constitution or the Bill of Rights -- the American governmental scheme is sliding ever closer toward authoritarianism. This is taking place with little more than a whimper from an increasingly compliant populace that, intentionally or not, has allowed itself to be brainwashed into trusting their politicians.
If the people have little or no knowledge of the basics of government and their rights, those who wield governmental power inevitably wield it excessively. After all, a citizenry can only hold its government accountable if it knows when the government oversteps its bounds.
The following seven principles -- ones that every American should know -- undergird the American system of government and form the basis for the freedoms our forefathers fought and died for. They are a good starting point for understanding what free government is really all about.
First, the maxim that power corrupts is an absolute truth. Realizing this, those who drafted the Constitution and the Bill of Rights held one principle sacrosanct: a distrust of all who hold governmental power. As James Madison, author of the Bill of Rights, proclaimed, "All men having power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree." Moreover, in questions of power, Thomas Jefferson warned, "Let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution."
The second principle (one that has largely been turned on its head over the past several decades) is that governments primarily exist to secure rights, an idea that is central to constitutionalism. In appointing the government as the guardian of the people's rights, the people give it only certain, enumerated powers, which are laid out in a written constitution. The idea of a written constitution actualizes the two great themes of the Declaration of Independence: consent and protection of equal rights. Thus, the purpose of constitutionalism is to limit governmental power and ensure that the government performs its basic function: to preserve and protect our rights, especially our unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and our civil liberties.
The third principle revolves around the belief that no one is above the law, not even those who make the law. This is termed rule of law. Richard Nixon's statement, "When the President does it, that means it is not illegal," would have been an anathema to the Framers of the Constitution. If all people possess equal rights, the people who live under the laws must be allowed to participate in making those laws. By that same token, those who make the laws must live under the laws they make.
Separation of powers ensures that no single authority is entrusted with all the powers of government. People are not perfect, whether they are in government or out of it. As history makes clear, those in power tend to abuse it. The government is thus divided into three co-equal branches: legislative, executive and judicial. Placing all three powers in the same branch of government was considered the very definition of tyranny.
A system of checks and balances, essential if a constitutional government is to succeed, strengthens the separation of powers and prevents legislative despotism. Such checks and balances include dividing Congress into two houses, with different constituencies, term lengths, sizes and functions; granting the president a limited veto power over congressional legislation; and appointing an independent judiciary capable of reviewing ordinary legislation in light of the written Constitution, which is referred to as "judicial review." The Framers feared that Congress could abuse its powers and potentially emerge as the tyrannous branch because it had the power to tax. But they did not anticipate the emergence of presidential powers as they have come to dominate modern government or the inordinate influence of corporate powers on governmental decision-making.
Representation allows the people to have a voice in government by sending elected representatives to do their bidding while avoiding the need of each and every citizen to vote on every issue considered by government. In a country as large as the United States, it is not feasible to have direct participation in governmental affairs. Hence, we have a representative government. If the people don't agree with how their representatives are conducting themselves, they can and should vote them out.
Federalism is yet another constitutional device to limit the power of government by dividing power and, thus, preventing tyranny. In America, the levels of government generally break down into federal, state and local branches (which further divide into counties and towns or cities). Because local and particular interests differ from place to place, such interests are better handled at a more intimate level by local governments, not a bureaucratic national government. Remarking on the benefits of the American tradition of local self-government in the 1830s, the French historian Alexis de Tocqueville observed:
Local institutions are to liberty what primary schools are to science; they put it within the people's reach; they teach people to appreciate its peaceful enjoyment and accustom them to make use of it. Without local institutions a nation may give itself a free government, but it has not got the spirit of liberty.
These seven vital principles have been largely forgotten in recent years, obscured by the haze of a centralized government, a citizenry that no longer thinks analytically, and schools that don't adequately teach our young people about their history and their rights. Yet here's the rub: while Americans wander about oblivious in their brainwashed states, their "government of the people, by the people and for the people" is being taken away from them.
The answer: get un-brainwashed. Learn your rights. Stand up for the founding principles. Make your voice and your vote count. If need be, vociferously protest the erosion of your freedoms at the local and national level. Most of all, do these things today. Tomorrow will most likely be too late.
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