The Shot Heard Round the World

-By Nancy Salvato

“By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Hence once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tension, leading to the deadly confrontation between British troops and an angry mob, better known as the Boston Massacre, had mounted for many months before violence erupted. The city was occupied by British troops tasked with enforcing tax laws. Townspeople worried troops would soon be quartered in their homes. Sailors feared being impressed into service by the Royal Navy; dockyard workers were frustrated by the loss of work to off duty soldiers. A lack of general security, combined with the new laws, fueled the flames of revolution.

Not everyone favored cutting the ties to Britain; however, King George III refused to entertain the concerns of the colonists and left them the choice of submitting unconditionally or declaring their independence.

Fast forward almost 100 years…the inhabitants of South Carolina, frustrated by the expansion of the federal government into their lives; lead the secession of seven states to form the Confederate States of America. Imagine what it must have felt like to fight against a cousin, friend, or even a brother when this country divided and fought the civil war. It has been speculated that had the Civil War not been fought, slavery would have died out within a century. This is because when there are enough laborers available, they are less expensive to hire than to buy and maintain slaves. Though the Civil War Amendments freed the slaves and gave them rights, it took another 100 years for these new laws to truly be effective, a result of the Civil Rights Movement.

People do not respond favorably to having laws thrust on them. This country fought a revolution in order to be represented in government. This country fought a civil war in order to maintain states’ rights, and upon the conclusion of the war, though slavery was ended, people of color were still not treated with equal rights.

Now, we’re facing the self-executing rule, referred to as deem and pass. And a large percentage of people are angry. Progressives, who hold a majority in Congress, are not allowing true debate about the pending healthcare legislation. The President has said that he doesn’t pay attention to the procedural rules, that this vote will be a vote for health care reform, that the American people want this. The trouble is that this won’t be a vote. This procedure eliminates the vote. The people are not represented in such a procedure.

The mood of this country reflects the division about the way health care reform is being thrust on them. It’s really not much different than the mood preceding The American Revolution and the mood prevailing prior to The War against Northern Aggression, known in the North as the Civil War.

Most people agree that the health care industry needs some reform. However, all people deserve to be represented in Congress and have a say in the form this reform takes. The states are the final check and balance in this constitutional crisis.

As Attorney General of Virginia, Kenneth T. Cuccinelli, II wrote to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi,

This is an improper purpose under the bicameralism requirements of Article I, Section 7 of the U.S. Constitution, one of the purposes of which is to make our representatives fully accountable for their votes.

Furthermore, to be validly enacted, the Senate bill would have to be accepted by the House in a form that is word-for-word identical (Clinton v. City of New York, 524 U.S. 417 (1998)).

Idaho’s governor signed a measure requiring the state attorney general to sue the federal government if the state’s residents are mandated to purchase health insurance. There is similar legislation pending in 37 other states.

The system of checks and balances was intended to prevent just this type of event. When the ends justifies the means and constitutional procedure doesn’t matter, when a minority can ram through legislation that would reduce the individual and states’ rights guaranteed by the Constitution, we are truly experiencing a constitutional crisis.

Many in this country may be under the false impression that this document is no longer relevant. However, the words of the preamble are just as true today as they were when the document was written.

We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, 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.

The preamble is written in the present tense for a reason. The Constitution is what binds us together as a people, it is what allows us to keep all of our individual differences yet function as one nation.

Asked what type of government the American people were going to participate in, Benjamin Franklin warned, “A republic, madam, if you can keep it.”

If deem and pass is allowed to occur, it must be challenged or the words of this greatest document will be completely delegitimized, those who wrote this document will be entirely diminished in stature and importance, and the people will come to understand that the rights they took for granted in a republic have been taken away.

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