Over the past couple of years, nearly all of us have become increasingly frustrated with the direction our country is headed and with the leadership of our government. It is obvious that partisanship is rampant and there is strong division within our country. Many are declaring that our government is broken. Like most, I share the profound concern about our nation’s direction and welfare. I do, however, find strong comfort in one consistently reliable source: the U.S. Constitution.
In the summer of 1787, barely a decade after America declared independence from Great Britain, delegates from 12 of the 13 original states convened in Philadelphia to fix the country’s broken government (sound familiar?) under the notorious Articles of Confederation, which conspicuously illustrated the dire consequences of not having an effective national government.
Instead of revising the Articles, the delegates drafted an completely new written charter designed to replace the Articles of Confederation and give the entire federal government an overhaul. As a result of their efforts, these men produced a masterpiece draft of experimental government, a timeless document that has existed as the basis of our government for well over two centuries and counting. On September 17, 1787, 39 delegates signed the Constitution, placing their approval stamps to the fruit of their summer’s labor. After backers of the Constitution waged an aggressive promotional campaign, the Constitution was ratified the following year, and our government was born.
Throughout our country’s history, each generation has felt dejected by elements of our government and perhaps feared our treasured Constitution was in jeopardy; this generation is no different. Today, I am as concerned as anyone about the direction our country is headed, and in the preservation of this founding document. Yet, I am consistently comforted and gratified to know that since before George Washington took the oath of the presidency, the Constitution has reigned supreme.
Our Constitution has survived depressions and recessions, wars spurred by conflicting ideologies, and even a bloody civil war that saw our own country split into two. And along the way, the opposing parties of our political system have sparred. But no matter how divided our country may seem to be, this remarkable document has served as the premise of our government and the promise of our freedoms.
Because of the strength of the Constitution and the will of the American people to succeed, the U.S. grew from its founding to global supremacy. Today our citizens live freer than anyone on the globe. Our military is the mightiest the world has ever known, and our entrepreneurial spirit continues to soar. Our culture draws the intrigue and envy of hundreds of millions around the earth. And our people are as charitable, open-minded, and resolute as any other in the world.
In 1956, Congress established Constitution Week, and in 2004, September 17 was designated as Constitution Day. I encourage you to join me on this day and take a moment to reflect upon the virtues of our cherished Constitution and the brilliance and dedication of the men who created it.
Despite the concerns with the state of our great nation and the government that controls it, I do not know one person who isn’t proud to be an American. The strength of our country is our people, and we are bound together by our Constitution. I firmly believe this document will reign for many centuries more. This belief is not baseless; history is on my side.
U.S. Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-Quitman, represents Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District and serves on the House Appropriations Committee. He can be reached at the Monroe District Office (318-322-3500), the Alexandria District Office (318-445-0818) or Washington, D.C. (202-225-8490.) Visit Alexander’s website at alexander.house.gov or write him at 316 Cannon House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515.