The Importance of Knowing and Understanding the U.S. Constitution

by Dorothy Lenz 

This will be a special educational series of writing, on the Constitution to help folks better understand the articles and what they mean to us each day.

Now, more than ever, Americans need to know what the Constitution is all about and what their rights are. In this series, we will use textbook information and give easy to understand descriptions of the Constitution itself and the Bill of Rights. Many Americans have not been taught this, and it is vital to our government. We are the government.

If we do not exercise and understand our part in it, it can very easily be taken away. I am using a text to cover the basic principles of the Constitution; The Constitution of the United States; A Study Guide, By John Chambers.

First, we should understand what the government is. It is a body of persons and institutions that make and enforce laws for a particular society and there are several types of governments: dictatorships, aristocracies, and republics. A Monarchy is a rule by one person, and it is hereditary. A dictatorship is ruled by one person by force. An Aristocracy is a rule by a minority group. A Democracy is where the people rule and make agreements amongst themselves. A Republic is ruled by popularly elected representatives subject to limitations, set by the people electing the representatives. A Constitutional Republic is a rule by popularly elected representatives subject to constitutional limitations. America is a Constitutional Republic.

America has a message, and that is that the common man has worth and people have a right to determine their own choices. We need to keep that torch lit and going, and continue that message to everyone on Earth by demonstrating that government of the people, for the people, and by the people works and works better than any other type of political activity. 

The US constitution was written 200 years ago, and since then every monarchy has disappeared or lost its political power. Most countries now have a written republican constitution. In our form of government in America, every individual has an equal share of power. Every individual acknowledges the utility of an association with his fellow men.  The central government in the Constitution is limited, and there is a system of checks and balances so that we don’t end up with tyranny or a dictatorship . . .

There are three branches of government, and YOU are the fourth branch. People decide what they want to be done (or not done) and tell their elected representatives. The Legislative Branch formulates a plan and decides how to get the job done. The Executive Branch carries out the laws and the plans the Legislative Branch creates. The Judicial Branch investigates complaints and decides if a law was incorrect or not implemented correctly, and if it was in accordance with the wishes of the people or not.

The preamble to the Constitution is this:

We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

A preamble is an introduction to a legal document. It comes from the Latin word prae-ambulus, which means going before.

It tells us the Constitution was written to get the following things for the people: justice, tranquility, defense, welfare, liberty, and establish these things as laws.

A government serving the people was a new idea when the Constitution was written. Here are some definitions to help you understand the preamble even more fully.

Constitution- the way something is set up domestic tranquility- peace at home, within the borders of a country general welfare- the health, happiness, and well-being of everyone in the group justice- what is fair in matters of handling criminality and protecting honest folk ordains – pass as a law, decree something officially.

For the next post in this series, we will look at the actual Constitution- article one, – The Legislative Branch of our government.

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