By Rep. Dusty Johnson
America is a young nation. Constitution Day is September 17th and it marks two hundred and thirty-three years since the ratification of our U.S. Constitution. Although our nation was founded in 1776, our guiding principles of freedom of the press and free speech were officially set in stone more than ten years later.
It’s important to remember that although our principles are woven into the fibers of our great nation, they aren’t invincible. We need to defend and protect them. In many ways, this year has pushed the boundaries of our founding document.
For years, the highest levels of government have moved the goal post on the limits of executive power. Each party seems to forget their appall for abuse of power – dependent only if the metaphorical flag planted outside of the big White House flies red or blue. I’ve done my best to oppose executive action that falls under the job description of Congress. Checks and balances are there for a reason.
When the Founders wrote the First Amendment – freedom of speech – it was intended to protect individual’s speech from government rule. I’m sure they never envisioned the contemporary challenge of restriction of free speech from online platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Censorship exists in many forms, most recently, it’s taken shape through public shaming and cancel culture.
The idea that anyone could be cancelled for their views – right or wrong – is unsettling. Americans have the right to support a candidate without fear of mob rule, burning of buildings, or the boycott of their business.
The Preamble of the Constitution reads as so: “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility…” Domestic tranquility literally means peace and quiet at home. I think that line is often glossed over, especially in recent months. Americans have a right to peace and social order, free of riots. Although well intentioned, many of 2020’s protests – which we have a constitutional right to – have turned violent.
This violence is unacceptable and we shouldn’t normalize it – just like we shouldn’t normalize the unjust killing of George Floyd. Americans are smart and innovative; we can achieve our greatest level of societal justice without physically threatening others and burning private property to the ground. We are better than that.
So what’s my point? We are the strongest and freest country in the world, but our nation isn’t unbreakable. We need to protect our founding principles before it’s too late.