A fundamental aspect of the good news of the gospel is the message of liberty. As President Joseph F. Smith said, “The Kingdom of God is a Kingdom of freedom; the gospel of the Son of God is the gospel of liberty.” Men of God, both ancient and modern, have spoken on this issue repeatedly. This book analyzes what liberty is and how it applies to government.
photo credit: Thorne Enterprises
According to a few sources, President Bush angrily opposed any mention of the Constitution when he and others were gathered together to brainstorm how best to trample the document, calling it just a “piece of paper” (the actual quote containing some more colorful language). When reports of this exchange were published, many were justifiably shocked and appalled at the behavior of a man who has publicly sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution.
But while such behavior is repulsive and tyrannical, Bush was right—the Constitution is just a piece of paper.
The Constitution is a contract that exists between “we the people” and our federal government. In reality, the document itself is nothing more than a collection of much-debated words scrawled on parchment. It is a historical wonder and a great collector’s item, but at the end of the day, it’s just a paper with words on it.
Like any other set of words, the Constitution only has power if the value we apply to the words leads us to honor and fulfill their meaning. A contract between two people that nobody enforces is worth nothing more than the sheet of paper upon which it is written. Likewise, without a group of people who respect and implement the Constitutional contract created by the words found on the document, its only value is that of the price it will fetch at a collector’s auction.
Ignoring the Constitution—an action which happens more often that not in Washington, D.C.—renders null and void any attempt to establish authority and restraint on power. Without a willing and authorized party to enforce its provisions and ensure they are obeyed, the document serves no purpose and transforms itself into historical eye candy.
With leaders like President Bush in power, and a cowardly and complicit Congress and Supreme Court, the checks and balances created by the document fade into oblivion and leave us with a piece of paper. Bush was right: our failure to enforce the contract created by the Constitution has resulted in it being treated as little more than the animal parchment and ink used to create it.