We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
So says our sublime Declaration. It is, presumably, the founding principle of an American. The trouble is, that for a very large portion of the population of the United States, it isn’t. And this portion may, indeed, constitute a majority. Perhaps even a large majority. It might be time to find out.
There is a very strong division in this nation and in spite of calls for unity and peace, what we have seen this past couple weeks is that our opponents do not think it good enough that we accept the results of the 2020 election. No; to them, that is not near enough. We need to be de-programmed; harassed; hounded out of public life. They don’t merely want power – they want power over us. We are unacceptable as we are. Until we are changed into them, they believe there cannot be peace.
On our side, it is very different. At least, for now. For the moment, you and I are perfectly content that our opponents live as they want to live. In their communities, we don’t care what they do. In fact, we find it even a little interesting and entertaining. We visit New York City or San Francisco and we find it all amusing. We are very happy to return home, of course, because we would never want to actually live like that…but going out to see how other people live and organize their lives is fun. Not so our opponents: on those rare occasions when they do visit our areas, they are horrified and simply more determined to change us. The trouble is that as they become ever more insistent that we change to suit them, I perceive a growing willingness on our side to pay them back in their own coin. This is not an optimal development. It is the stuff with which civil wars are made. Remember, our civil war (and another good example is the Spanish civil war) came about because each side became fearful that the other side was going to force it to conform.
Fortunately, we do have a way out. Built into our Constitution is the means to do so: we can call a Constitutional Convention and recraft our means of government.
Now, this is fraught with perils of it’s own. Things like this can spin out of control. But they can also hammer out compromises between very disparate interests. And, if it does prove impossible to hammer out a new Constitution which the overwhelming majority of Americans can subscribe to via ratification, then I think it would be clear that separation is best for everyone.
Do understand that if we call a Convention, we on our side might find that large majorities are in favor of calling health care a right – and a host of other things which we don’t think are. But even if we did find that, then at least we’d find where we are in the system. If the American people, in Congress Assembled, crafted a governing instrument which we truly found abhorrent, then our choices would be to knuckle under, or leave. But I don’t think it would be like that. I think we’d either be able to build something acceptable to 70%+, or we would find the task impossible and it would then become an effort at separating the nation peacefully.
I’m sure we can all find scores of things we’d like to have in such a new document – and if the spirit of compromise is really there (if, that is, we really are all Americans and thus willing to give to get), then we might find the ability to do things like really securing freedom of conscience in return for our concession on health care being defined as a right. We might find ourselves in a very different sort of America than we imagined – it might have many elements that we consider outright Socialist. But if it also has elements which the Socialists consider reactionary…that would mean that we met in good will and crafted a document we can all live with.
What we can’t do, in my view, is continue to drag on with the Constitution of 1787. It is amazing that it has lasted as long as it did, but it is clearly unsuited to current pressures. It is, in many aspects, a dead letter. And perhaps rightly so: it was written by people who lived centuries ago and times have changed and, just perhaps, if we all have a hand in crafting a new governing document, we’ll all respect it and live in peace under it. We can certainly hope so. I fear that if we try to sustain that which has already died, we’ll just stagger from one power grab to another leading to civil war and Caesarism.