The Constitution: a product of Enlightenment ideas

American-ConstitutionThe Constitution of the United States is a product of Enlightenment ideas that define the relationship between the national government, the states, and the average citizen. This is a very important key to understanding what makes it a truly unique document and why it has thus far endured the tests of time.  Over the past few weeks, through Facebook, emails, telephone conversations, and even a few “real” world conversations, I have been asked by many why the current generation of Americans, those who are graduating from high school and college, seem not to be interested in politics or in defending or standing up for the Constitution. As a college instructor and as a freedom-loving American, I honestly believe that the major problem is the way we teach the history of the founding of our nation and the Enlightenment ideas that would define its nature.

An educated electorate: required

 

stack-of-booksWhile serving in the United States Army in the early 1990s, I had to prepare for the much-anticipated promotion board for sergeant. Like many, I had bought a study guide to help me prepare for the range of questions that I could expect to be asked. Besides the obvious questions on military tradition, job-related skills, and the history of my unit, the study guide had a section devoted to what it called “general knowledge citizenship.” As I prepared for the promotion board using the study guide, I began to understand how much about the Constitution of the United States I simply did not know. I prided myself in being a high school graduate and even had thirty-four hours at a local college before joining the Army. Although I considered myself as educated, I was far from being a member of the educated electorate our founding fathers said must exist to protect the Constitution and the national government it defined.

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My two cents: The bungling generation

two-centsIf I were to describe the health of American politics from 1988 through 2015, I would have to describe them as being in the hands of a bungling generation of politicians. If we take an objective look at the condition of both state and national politics there can be no doubt that today’s politician does not have the same skills at statecraft of even the generation of politicians that led this country during World War II. Just this week, the Republican Party leadership could not believe the demands of the American voter not to give Congressman John Boehner a third term as Speaker of the House. As I listened and read the commentaries by the Republican Party establishment I began to have a sense of “here we go again…”

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Nation in distress: the loss of patriotism

american-flag_half-mastThere have been a number of news stories lately that really makes me wonder how we reached this point as a nation patriotism – love of the nation – has been lost. In today’s headlines, a woman in Virginia was arrested for ties to ISIS. According to the various news sources, she comes from a middle class background and has had all the benefits of being a citizen of the United States. Within the last week, there were stories of how CNN News ran a warning before they broadcast the Star Spangled Banner, the national anthem of the United States. Recently the Ninth Judicial Court of Appeals upheld a lower court decision claiming that the U.S. flag/U.S. flag apparel could be deemed illegal and offensive by public schools, especially on Cinco de Mayo, a commercial “holiday” not even observed in Mexico. There are literally hundreds of other examples that could be listed, but the common theme that connects each of them is there is disdain for the nation by its own citizenry and national leaders.

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