Remembering Constitutional Patriotism

This weekend, small town parades decorated the American landscape with the stars and stripes of patriotism. Age-worn veterans flashed back to bloody memories of foreign lands and lost comrades. Widows and widowers caressed the banner presented to them at their lover’s funeral. And kids of all ages asked for the thousandth time, “When’s daddy coming home?”

For the middle class non-military family, Memorial Day is defined by backyard cookouts, beaches, and the day off work or school. There’s nothing wrong with celebrating, but often times the celebration becomes the definition.

For example, today I talked with a friend’s sister, whose supertan complexion evidenced a day at the beach. When I mentioned something about Memorial Day, she genuinely received a revelation, “Oh, that’s why we had today off!”

“Really?…..” I said playfully with a hint of seriousness. Her mom and sisters teased about her blonde hair, and I just rolled my eyes as I continued setting the table.

Then, I got to thinkin.’ A majority of Americans act exactly like my friend’s sister. Except, as we get older, we get more opinionated without ever studying our history or our constitution. We vote for a variety of reasons: Some of us vote for the most Pro-Life or Pro-Choice candidate. Many vote for the union-backed or small business candidate. And yet others cast their ballot for short term economics and job growth. Wake up, America! Those aren’t the real issues.

We’ve become like the “cool” kids in the back of the classroom, who party, dish out the know-it-all wisecracks, and brag to each other about how they barely passed. We’ve used cliff notes for too long, and it’s time for us to remember what our liberty is all about. The freedom we enjoy in this “one nation under God” is a gift that is packaged with a large amount of responsibility.

The vote in 2012 should not be a vote for or against abortion. It should not be a vote for or against unions. And it should not be a vote for or against homosexuality, drugs, or Obama. Do your research, and cast your ballot based on your interpretation of the Constitution. What is the role of federal government in our society and abroad? That’s the underlying question. The Constitutional answer should command our vote.

If you’re caught up in the whole Republican vs. Democrat charade, don’t be. Start digging for the foundation. Remember and read the documents and ideas that this nation was founded upon. Many soldiers, who have fought and died bravely in battle, were sent to protect the lives and liberty of “we the people.” Others were ordered to go to their deaths unjustly to protect the interests of people in power because “we the people” bought into the political machine with ignorant, patriotic fervor.

Today, I vow to remember the sacrifice of both and to cast my ballot for the constitutional liberty of “we the people.” Otherwise, my forgetful “days at the beach” will result in less meaningful discussion and more senseless war.

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2 thoughts on “Remembering Constitutional Patriotism

  1. Do your research, and cast your ballot based on your interpretation of the Constitution.

    Rob,

    I’ve been wondering whether or not to say anything about this post, but I’ve finally decided to go ahead and do so.

    Know that I speak from the utmost respect for you … the internet as a medium doesn’t do tone very well, so just know that I mean everything with the respct I have for you. That said…

    I find the above quote troubling on theological grounds. As a Christian, I consider myself to be a member of God’s Kingom, a follower of Jesus before I consider my patriotism or my country.

    If I understand Jesus correctly, he calls all of his followers to such priorities. We are, first and foremost, to bear witness to and to serve Jesus’ redeeming work in the world. This extends into our politics. Surely, we must be humble, admitting that we don’t always know fully, but as followers of Jesus, it is necessary for our faith to impact our politics … significantly so.

    Which leads me to question why the first and/or most important thing I should consider is American history and the Constitution.

    There is nothign sacred about the Constitution (unless you’re a Sarah Palin fan and buy all that mumbo jumbo). As citizens of God’s Kingdom, why should it be determinant for us? That we ought to bow to its authority is the lynchpin of what you’re saying — but why ought we do so?

    The Constitution is certainly important. And yes, it is the ground for our secular government and society. But it remains just that, a secular, human document, one that was written hundreds of years ago in a very different time and a very different place from us.

    If it is to be the guide for how you, me, and other Christians vote — why?

    • Hey Ben!
      Thanks for engaging me on this. 🙂 I agree with you. Being a member of God’s kingdom is not just my first priority. It’s my only priority. All other things come into line with how I understand God’s word and his redeeming work in the world.
      There are many problems with the time in which the Founding Fathers of the USA drafted the Constitution. There was slavery. There was war instead of peaceful resistance. There were prejudices that disabled the Native American community. I don’t gloss over the fact that there were fallen people writing the Constitution, but it is a contract. That’s why I believe the document is sacred. The “sacred” part of it isn’t that it’s the inspired “Word of God.” It’s the commitment that our leaders make to uphold it as a contract between the government and the people. When they do not uphold it as strict constructionists, they are lying.
      I believe most of our past presidents have lied to us, perhaps knowingly… Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, and Obama swore to uphold the Constitution on inauguration day, but they each expanded the power of our central government at home and abroad. The liberties that they swore to protect, they helped destroy with endless foreign wars, horrible foreign policy, and entitlement programs that break the initiative of the poor and bankrupt the country.
      If the ideals of our Constitution would’ve have been followed by the Founders, slavery would have ceased and the oppression of native Americans would have been unthinkable. In our present day, if the ideals of our Constitution were followed, taxes would drop, we’d bring our troops home from around the world, and we’d stop bailing out rich people while the poor suffer. The Constitution is our secular guard against government taking our liberties from us in the name of safety and acting as king. Obama, Bush, and the rest were never meant to be rulers handing out executive orders. In a republic, you and I are the Kings. We choose our servants at the ballot box, and the Legislative body should be the most powerful. Even though our founders wrote a document that they didn’t necessarily follow, “We the People” should expect and demand that our servants live up their word because honesty is sacred. There is a higher law than the Constitution. It’s one of love for God and people, and if you believe the Constitution violates that law, vote to change it. Just remember, the Constitution is the secular document that allows you that vote.
      Ben, I love you, man. I would love to talk with you more. I appreciate that you think deeply about the life you live and the decisions you make. You’re a good brother! My quick answer to your question “why?” Because it is the contract our leaders swear to uphold. If they have integrity, they are left with two choices: Uphold the Constitution or uphold it until they can amend it to say something different. Unfortunately, most of our “great” presidents made their mark by ignoring it, and in the process, shot the limbs off Liberty.

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