Lacey Smith

Focus on Freedom: The Preamble (Pt. 6)

In Uncategorized on July 16, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Week six of our review of the preamble and so far we’ve gone over three general purposes of the U.S. Constitution.

I’m hoping that you’re gaining a better understanding of what the Constitution is designed to do and where (and how far) we have overstepped.

The next aim of the Constitution, as laid out by the preamble, is to “provide for the common defense…”

This purpose is shared by many, but sadly not all, governments and is necessary to maintain sovereignty. If a government does not protect its public, it will eventually fall to either foreign influence or internal uprising. This is especially true if that government actively seeks to destroy a group of their population rather than protect them.

Providing for the common defense is a role the federal government is uniquely suited for, possibly more so than any other.

In Federalist No. 4, John Jay writes:

“As the safety of the whole is in the interest of the whole, and cannot be provided for without government…. let us inquire whether one good government is not… more competent than any other given number whatever.”

Essentially, he’s suggesting that Americans consider if the individual states or one central government would be better able to protect the people.

He then spends the rest of the paper providing reasons a single unified government was more capable of defending the new America than many individual states.

I don’t think most regular Americans have any issue with the federal government being in charge of the military.

Frankly, this is not one of the places that the government has overstepped as egregiously, either.

It is necessary to have some amount of standing army, as Alexander Hamilton argues in Federalist Nos. 24 and 25. We must also defend against terrorism, sometime on their own soil.

The problem with all this comes in when we defend others and then stay too long. It is when we station troops in some place completely able to defend themselves.

Not having intelligence information, I cannot say with certainty, but the DMZ in Korea seems like a place where we are no longer providing for the common defense of America but instead acting as the world’s police.

I also worry that in times to come, the federal government will use this clause to “protect” us out of our self protection.

If the government reasons that it’s job is to protect us and individual gun owners are harmful to that end, it may use that to try to restrict our gun rights even further.

At no point in the Federalist Papers addressing this subject was the idea brought forth that providing for the common defense was a domestic issue. This clause deals singularly with foreign dangers and international warfare.

Providing for the common defense allows us to secure our borders, wage traditional war and fight terrorism. It permits us to maintain standing armies to accomplish those ends. No more and no less.


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