Do you remember those words from the Preamble? We probably all memorized them at some point. As we know, the Preamble provides a simple and concise description of the enormously consequential document it was introducing. But those words … in order to form “a more perfect union,” what did they intend to convey?
I think the phrase reflects the wisdom of the Framers in understanding that the new government they were creating would be constituted by men, by human beings, who are flawed and imperfect and who would, at times, succumb to their biases and fears and do the wrong thing. They also knew that many of their fellow countrymen would be highly distrustful of their effort to create a central government with broad national powers. (A well-founded fear, we realize, 243 years later). History records for us a great insight into the monumental task they had just completed when, walking down a street near Constitution Hall in Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin was asked by a woman regarding the work they had done. “Dr. Franklin, what have you wrought (created)?” He responded, “a Republic, madame, if you can keep it.” If we can keep it.
We were bequeathed a Republic, which means our form of government is based upon our Constitution which prescribes that we will govern ourselves as a representative democracy. The truths it enshrines are timeless and universal. The rights it guarantees are granted by God—not government—and they are deemed fundamental because they recognize and protect the intrinsic value, dignity, liberty, and equality of every human life. That, merely by the event of our birth, we are possessed of rights and freedoms that cannot legitimately be taken from us by any earthly power. That is what they handed down to the new nation.
Yet, they realized the difficult path that lay ahead and that mistakes, some grave, would be made. However, they also knew that if our new nation embraced the principles and guarantees they had enshrined in the new Constitution, we could right those wrongs and become a better, stronger and “more perfect” nation. In that sense then, those four words are both realistic and hopeful. Realistic in acknowledging the union was not already perfect but hopeful in the aspiration that we would never stop trying to make it so; That this great American experiment in self-government was and always would be a work in progress but one worth striving to perfect.
Let’s briefly contrast that with the Antifa-BLM view of a more perfect union. By every indication, it is one of chaos, anarchy and destruction of property and harming of individuals. It is certainly not working within our political system but instead threatening to “burn down this system” if their demands are not met. The Anifa-BLM view includes waging a mob cultural war (note the burning of Bibles and American flags in Portland last night) on every aspect of our country while erasing our history, ridiculing our patriotism, and permanently altering our constitutional form of government—and the fundamental rights and liberties it affords to every one of us.
We cannot perfect our union if we destroy its foundations. That is why this uprising and lawlessness must stop—it threatens our rights and liberties and also prevents the positive work we must continue to do to achieve the “perfection” our framers, and we, ourselves, envision.
Royal Alexander is a Shreveport attorney.