Currie & Casper
Viewpoint: The U.S. Constitution - Evolving? Obsolete?
by David Currie
When I think of the U. S. Constitution I think of a remarkable document written by our founding fathers to guide us as a country. It is truly an incredible work. So it is obsolete? Certainly not.
Is it evolving? I do not think I would use that word but I do think the “principles” it lays out to guide us have to find fresh applications as society, education, science, etc. evolve. Let me explain.
I have a Bible degree from Howard Payne University, and a Ph. D. from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. I believe the Bible is the authority In all matters of faith and practice for Christians. It contains ultimate truth, but that truth must be re-interrupted as the world we live in changes. The TRUTH it teaches never changes but it often must be fleshed out in new ways.
As a Christian reading the scriptures, I call myself a “principelist.” By that I mean I believe the scriptures teach eternal principles that have application across time. It doesn’t teach laws or rules and regulations, but eternal principles.
For example, the Old Testament teaches something called the Sabbath Year. Every seven years land was to not be planted and the poor were to glean the fruits/crops that grew there. Now obviously if that was practiced in Tom Green County, our farmers would go broke as well as some of our banks. It’s just not practical, BUT, the principle behind it is very real and true for 2014. The land is to be taken care of in terms of stewardship, farmers should not “wear-out” the land with greed, and the poor among us are to be cared for.
Another Old Testament teaching was the Year of the Jubilee. That meant that every 50 years the land was to revert back to its original owners. There is no evidence in scripture this was actually practiced and it certainly would not work in a private property society such as ours, but I do think the Year of the Jubilee teaches some eternal principles that we should live by today.
I think scripture clearly teaches against what is happening in modern America where 1% of the population controls over 50% (or is it 80%) of America’s wealth. This is not good for a society. Thomas Jefferson often spoke of how having a large number of landowners was a protection for our democracy. I agree with him. Wealth should be more widely distributed and I think scripture teaches this and our founding fathers believed this.
So to our U. S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. I think they teach principles that should govern America as long as we exist as a country. I also think we have to understand the principles our founding fathers were writing and apply them in modern society.
When the constitution was written slavery existed and women could not vote. Not one of the men at the constitutional convention imagined airplanes, television, the weapons of mass destruction that exist today as well as machine guns, multinational corporations and on and on.
We don’t live in the late 1700’s anymore. We live in a totally different society they could in no way imagine. What they wrote was brilliant, remarkable for its time and the principles they wrote for us are timeless and alive for application in our modern world. It is up to us to use our intellect, common sense, and values to apply these principles to our lives in the 20th Century.
David R. Currie is the new Tom Green Democratic Chair. David is a native of Paint Rock in Concho County where family came in 1879, and continues to ranch there as well as in the Christoval area where he and his wife Loretta live. Married for over 30 years, they have a blended family of 5 children and 10 grandchildren.
He is a graduate of Howard Payne University and also has masters and doctors degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminiary in Fort Worth where he did his doctoral work on agricultural policy and the Bible and received his degree in Christian Ethics.
He is a former pastor, staff member of the Southern Baptist Christian Life Commission which focuses on ethical issues and religious liberty and retired Executive Director of Texas Baptist Committed. He was also sheep and goat specialist with the Texas Department of Agriculture in the 80's when Jim Hightower was Ag. Commissioner.
David is the author of two books, On the Way and Songs in the Desert as well as hundreds of articles that can be found at www.txbc.org.
He is currently the president of Cornerstone Builders and Angelo Granite Worx, and managing partner of Stonewall Ranches development company. He has served three terms as president of the San Angelo Home Builders Association, served on the Better Business Bureau board, as a board member of Howard Payne University, The Interfaith Alliance, The Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty and is current Vice-chair of the San Angelo Adult Literacy Council. He and Loretta are members of Southland Baptist Church.
by Ken Casper
The question is frequently asked, “Is the U.S. Constitution a living document?”
It’s a false premise, like: “Have you stopped beating your wife?” By living, the left means evolving. If you answer yes, that it’s a living document, then, according to their reasoning, there are no iron-clad rules. Everything is flexible, subject to whatever interpretation a judge might give it. Tomorrow it will be subject to reinterpretation.
If you answer no, that it’s not a living document, the logical alternative is that it’s dead, in which case you end up in the same place: that what it meant yesterday is no longer a valid measure of what happens today. Heads, I win; tails, you lose. It’s a neat trick.
Let’s stop playing words games and get to the heart of the matter: “Has our Constitution outlived its time? Is it still relevant in the 21st Century?”
My unequivocal answer is: The U.S. Constitution is every bit as relevant today as it was when it was written in the late 18th Century.
“How can that be?” you ask. “The world of 2014 is so different from the world of 1787.”
Maybe, but human nature hasn’t changed. The Constitution is about human activity, not horse-drawn carriages or sailing ships. It’s about a deliberative, balanced process of governance, and placing checks on tyrannical power.
“But look at where the Constitution had brought us,” you say. “Everything’s a mess.”
Indeed it is, not because we’ve followed the Constitution, but because we haven’t. You can’t blame the rules for a fiasco when you’re not following them. Here are just a few examples:
The President is responsible for “taking care that the laws be faithfully executed.” But this president has picked and chosen which laws he will enforce and which he will not. The use of arbitrary power is at the seat of tyranny.
Congress is equally dysfunctional. The House has passed no less than 300 bills in the past six years, none of which the Senate Majority Leader has even brought to the floor for debate.
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court redefined the Affordable Care Act as a tax bill when the Solicitor General himself explicitly argued that it did not levy a tax but a penalty. What both the legislature and the court ignored was the constitutional provision that clearly states all tax bills must originate in the House. The Affordable Care Act was first passed in the Senate and then sent to the House.
Rules are meant to be followed, but people in positions of authority become corrupted by power and feel they are not bound by them. Look at how many laws Congress has exempted itself from.
Thomas Jefferson said: “In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”
To be sure, the Constitution is a human document and humans are imperfect. Recognizing that truth, the Founders established clear, workable provisions for amending it. No example is more honorable or more profound than the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments that forever ended chattel slavery.
Not all changes are wise, however, despite their good intentions. Prohibition, the great Progressive experiment in social engineering, had to be repealed fourteen years later, because it did more harm than good. Other changes need to be rescinded, as well, specifically the 16th Amendment that gave us the “progressive” Income Tax and the hopelessly corrupt IRS, and the 17th Amendment which made the election of senators a popularity contest and robbed the states of their sovereignty. Perhaps some day we’ll be able to pass an amendment on term limits on both the legislative and judicial branches, as we have on the executive.
But those changes are not going to come easily or soon. The question is whether “We the People” can regain control of our politicians and be their masters, or if we must endure a new slavery to the administrative state.
Daniel Webster said: “It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.”
Revolution comes from the word revolve, to turn around. The beacon for our return journey to liberty and prosperity in this land that God has blessed is the Constitution of the United States.
Ken Casper was born and raised in New York City a long time ago. He graduated from Fordham University with a degree in Russian Studies and shortly thereafter went into the Air Force. He received Intelligence training at Goodfellow AFB, was assigned to Japan, Vietnam and Germany, after which he returned once more to Goodfellow. Here he met and married his wife, Mary. Three months later he was reassigned to Nellis AFB, Las Vegas, Nevada.
After another seven years of assignments as a civilian to Camp Pendleton in California and Luke AFB in Arizona, he, his wife and daughter came back to San Angelo, where he headed an Intelligence training branch at Goodfellow. He was subsequently placed in charge of procuring $200M of new technology for the Training Center's new computer-based training system.
He retired from the Air Force Reserve as a Colonel in 1993 and from the Civil Service at Goodfellow in 1997. In 1998 he published his first Harlequin Superromance, A Man Called Jesse. Twenty-four romances followed, including Upstairs at Miss Hattie's and six NASCAR novels. During those years he became good friends with Dr. Pres Darby. In 2011, shortly before Pres's death from ALS, they published a joint novel, Mankillers, a Civil War thriller. Since then, Ken has published three Jason Crow mysteries set in West Texas.
A staunch conservative, Ken was the second president of the San Angelo TEA Party, 2010-2011, and has remained active in local politics ever since.