THE CONSTITUTION REFRESHER
We, The People
What is a “Constitution?”
Thomas Paine told the People in the States, as the nation was figuring out how to organize and manage the new nation:
“A constitution is not the act of a government, but of a people constituting a government; and government without a constitution is power without a right. All power exercised over a nation, must have some beginning. It must be either delegated, or assumed. There are not other sources. All delegated power is trust, and all assumed power is usurpation. Time does not alter the nature and quality of either.”
Thomas Paine, Rights of Man [1791-1792]
But – What is our Constitution? What does it say? How did we come up with it? Who said this was the way to go? What does it allow, and what does it prohibit? Why? Is it in good health? Is it “living,” or is it somehow obsolete?
The Constitution Refresher is a seminar that has been created to give you an insight to The Constitution of the United States of America that you cannot get anywhere else.
The Constitution Refresher is a one-day seminar, presented in a Power-Point format. Each participant gets a copy of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America. This copy is one of those convenient booklets that you can carry around, or leave on the end table as you watch the news.
History and Purpose of the Course
In 2009, discussions among Hal, his wife Micki, and Tennessee State Senator Dolores Gresham about long-term and recent radical changes in the way the United States has been led from Washington concluded that most of the concerns could be clarified if the People of Tennessee – and of the United States – had a better understanding of the Constitution of the United States.
This led further to the conclusion that, with the background and interest available, Senator Gresham should sponsor a seminar, to be led by Hal, that would refresh and deepen the understanding of local constituents about the United States Constitution. The first session was held in the hallway outside Senator Gresham’s office in August of 2009.
The sense that this session was very successful, and should be shared with more citizens has led to many more sessions, which have been held from Coast to coast, including the Reagan Ranch Center in Santa Barbara, California. Many people who have attended one have returned to participate again, stating that there is so much information, and that it is so useful, and so fun, that they feel the time is well spent.
SEMINAR AGENDA - Times vary depending on audience participation.
HOUR 1 - WHO, WHEN, WHERE AND WHY –
THE PEOPLE WHO FORMED THE UNITED STATES, AND THE THINGS THAT MOTIVATED AND INFLUENCED THEM.
We look briefly at the first English migrants to the New World, and figure out why they left their homes to face the peril of the seas and the hostile, ominous wilderness of America.
As the colonies became settled, philosophies, wars and experiments with different forms of government gave birth to a new way of thinking about the relationship between the People and their governments.
Then our government, from its home across the Atlantic, acted to subdue our new way of choosing our own paths, and we resisted.
HOUR 2 - WHAT –
THE NATURE OF THE NEW NATION
FAILURE OF THE FIRST PLAN
The resistance became a separation, and was made final by war.
Becoming separate required a Declaration to the world, and necessitated an alliance among the rebelling colony-states.
A plan for partially joining the independent states was agreed upon and executed.
The plan proved inadequate.
THE NATURE OF THE NEW PLAN
A better plan was necessary, so a committee was assigned to fix the old one.
What was the legal and practical nature of the new plan, our Constitution?
What effect does this form have on us today?
HOUR 3 - THE ORIGINAL CONSTITUTION
THE POWERS AND ORIGINAL RESTRAINTS
Now we review, in depth, the parts of the Constitution that give it the life the Founders intended. What the government can and cannot do, how it is structured to accomplish its purpose - what parts of the government can do which functions - and how it is restrained.
The Big Question: Where does it say how we shall get Liberty?
RATIFICATION – BUT ONLY BECAUSE OF A PROMISE
The draft of the Constitution was brilliant – but it meant nothing until the People ratified it. How did this happen? And why is it critical to the powers of the People today?
(Meal break is typically between hours 2 & 3 or 3 & 4.)
HOUR 4 - THE BILL OF RIGHTS
The further restraints on the government – what they were, and why the Constitution would not exist without them.
What effect these restraints have, and why these restraints were chosen over other potential “Rights.”
HOUR 5 - THE FOLLOWING AMENDMENTS
Amendments 11 – 27. Why each was pushed through, what each was intended to do, and the actual effect it had.
THE AMAZING RESULTS
A sampling of Supreme Court decisions that actually changed the form of our government, and gave rise to the turmoil we see today.
THE CHALLENGE FOR THE FUTURE
What can we do about it? – What should we do?
That is up to you…