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No, The Government Does Not Do as Promised


            The preamble to the Constitution, in addition to setting up the basic ideas upon which it was written, makes a set of promises to be fulfilled by the government that it set up.  Among these are to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of Liberty.  However, we see many places in the Constitution where the government simply cannot fulfill these promises, in addition to those times, both historical and contemporary, where the government otherwise fails to do as promised.

            We find our first contradiction within the words “We the people.”  Given that the Constitution was written and ratified primarily by convention, to say “we the people” is purely invalid.  One also finds that through such a complex system of legislative bodies and representatives, the people have only a minor, indirect influence on how the country will run, as they are nearly cut-off.  To further this basic point, we see in Article II, Section 1, Clause 2 of the Constitution that the people do not even directly elect their own president, but rather he is chosen through the casting of votes by electors.  We know that this is not a trivial issue, because of multiple historical occurrences in which some electors from a state have not voted in accordance with the popular vote of that said state.

            We also notice problems with the very concept of forming a union.  Complying with the [then popular] policy of appeasing those who defended states’ rights, the 10th Amendment was passed.  In addition to placing a stringent limit on the powers of the union, namely by reserving all non-explicit powers to the states or the people, there is left some degree of ambiguity as to where the excess powers should be placed.

            In addition to the appeasement of states’ rights, the writers of the Constitution felt they also had to appease sectional interests.  The most clear example of this surrounds the issue of slavery, classically supported by the south and looked down upon by the north.  For example, we see this in the three-fifths compromise, found in Article I, Section 2, Clause 3 of the Constitution.  This, possibly coupled with a few other ideas, first opened up the rift between the north and south which eventually led to the Civil War.  So, in all, this demonstrates the failure of the government in at least three of the preamble promises, namely insuring domestic tranquillity, providing for the common defense, and promoting the general welfare.

            And speaking of the three-fifths compromise, we find it somewhat unfair that while each slave is counted as three-fifths of a person toward the population count for calculating representation, they do not get so much as three-fifths of a vote for deciding who will represent them.  The same problem applied with women, and still does apply with those who are under the age of 18.  To call such an obstruction of what is fair and proper the establishment of justice would be necessarily illegitimate.

            With many recent events, there have been many infractions on the Constitutional promise to secure the blessings of Liberty.  In 1986, the Supreme Court found that it was not unconstitutional to make homosexual acts (and also a few heterosexual acts) a criminal offense.  Yet most people would agree with the belief that individuals may do with their bodies as they wilt hen in privacy, and thus this violates the pact set forth by the preamble.

            If we also look at our prison system, one may question whether or not it truly is establishing justice.  On average, a criminal spends less than 10% of the time they are sentenced in prison.  Instead, they receive parole and are back on the streets to commit further crimes, not having learned their lesson in any way.  Being soft on criminals in such a manner cannot possibly help to put an end to crime.

            Thus, for the general case, we see that the government, in fact, does not really live up to the preamble promise.