Today, the universe chose to deliver an opportunity to write about the American Constitution, and I include an edited version of the response as today’s blog post. Of course, I took a course in American Constitution many years ago when I was in college; however, it’s nice to get a refresher on basic topic. ( if you’re in the same class, please don’t cut and paste. do your own work):
"The themes of democracy and national security in the Constitution fit together because the framers of the document were very well aware that they were separating from a strong nation. The needs for security to protect a democratic document and nation were very real, and certainly the framers of the document knew that their bold methods would require support from the people to support this document.
Freedom and democracy do not come simply from drafting up a well thought out plan. Freedom and democracy, in a new plan, create essentially a new argument, which required defense. In terms of discussion of ideas, and presenting of ideas, a heated verbal debate can suffice.
However; when freedoms and democracy join together in abandoning one country’s efforts to develop an expansion of an existing nation and political system, in order to create a new country with a competitive political system, then more serious effects are likely to come about than simple words and foot stomping.
The document clearly established the idea that a new nation was being developed; and not an extension of the nation who had sent people over to expand its territory. Nations who finance ventures are not happy campers when their former associates decide to move forward with a separate and competing adventure.
When nations are involved in struggle, negotiations are vital. However; instead of considering negotiation, the constitution truly envisioned the likelihood that negotiations would fail and, instead, took in a defensive role which included national security.
The themes of democracy and national security may be compatible, or at odds with one another. My feeling, as an American Citizen, is that it would have been nice to see a lot of what went into the Constitution on the negotiating table with Britain, instead of being ad odds with that nation. The fact is, however, that only those who were struggling to secure this land were aware of the daily issues that affected the campaign.
One of the huge media stunts we still read about in history books was the Boston Tea Party. In the minds of millions of American school children, this stunt is inextricably linked to the constitution and founding of America. It’s hard for kids to understand why it was so upsetting to be sent a boat full of tea. Being sent a boat load of tea by Britain may have been intended as a nice gesture from Britain to the framers, despite the details of taxation.
However, were the colonists ready, willing and able to sit down and drink that British tea with the natives, in the same way that native American legends tell about native people smoking the peace pipe to secure negotiations and create harmonious nations between each other? And, this is where I link the idea to national security.
If the tea had been used as a negotiating tool, would national security have been so important at that time? Could, in fact, tea have been as much a “magical ingredient” for peace as tobacco was perceived to be?
Did, in fact, that boat full of tea have intrinsic powers that could have prevented the obsession with separation from Britain, forming a new nation, and the ensuing national security? Themes of democracy and national security, looking back in time from the present, may not have been as compatible as they seemed at the time.
I have not read in standard textbooks about colonists inviting the natives to tea for the purposes of negotiations; however, if the intention of Britain were to share that tea with native peoples as part of a peace-keeping strategy, that does not appear to have either been expressed adequately in history, or our history books.
We seem to have a lack of information for the purpose of the aforementioned British tea, and why overseas colonists were taxed for an item which may not have been perceived as unnecessary or even frivolous.
Truth be known, the colonists had their hands full with many responsibilities, hardships and dangers in a pre-internet generation where immediate exchanges between America and Britain did not exist. It’s no wonder the colonists felt alone and defensive.
I would like to believe, if such communication were possible, that a copy of the constitution might have been forwarded between the colonists and Britain for review, suggestions and rewriting in a way that may have influenced British government to become more democratic alongside and in a negotiated cooperative atmosphere with the fledgling colonial aspirations for democracy by the people, for the people, and including all peoples from the very inception.
How would the world have changed? Would a British-Colonist-Native nation of democracy have been built based on simple communication, with less emphasis on national security? Perhaps.
I believe this land was destined for greatness, and that perhaps the emphasis on national security was because global communication was not under control to an extent where all parties could express their needs prior to arming and defending. Therefor, the emphasis on national security and democracy became intertwined during the framing of the constitution.
However; I do not particularly believe that this intertwining may have been not as necessary. I would like to believe that this land, this nation I live in, the earth itself was speaking through the colonists about a political belief that was hitherto unheard of. To have created that nation in peaceful negotiations instead of war and security concerns, may have indeed been possible.