Sunday, February 14, 2010

Getting educated about the Constitution

Getting educated about the Constitution

(important correction follows at the end on logistics!)

By Jim Lehmann

Originally published in the Frederick News Post as an LTE on February 14, 2010

There is no shortage of opinions on why Americans are expressing strong dissatisfaction with the way government is operating these days, and I get a radically different reasons for the outcome of the Massachusetts election every time I check the news. There just seems to be so much speculation about what's driving all the emotion and I think there is a multitude of very good causes behind the backlash, but it can all be boiled down to one simple thing: education.

I'm not referring to what's missing in the public schools; I'm talking about the simple fact that Americans have become smarter about how Washington and our local governments work, and that has got a lot of people upset.

People know more about the Constitution, the legislative horse-trading that wastes money through earmarks (who even knew what an earmark was?), the balance of power and how it's become unbalanced, the financial hole we've dug for ourselves and our children through deficit spending, and the fact that common sense seems to be missing in decision-making whether it's in Washington or Annapolis. We are smarter because we are becoming more educated about how things are being done and how far we've let our elected officials drift from what we the people believe they should do.

That brings me to two opportunities to further our education and therefore our influence.

The first is a seminar being held in Frederick on March 6 by the National Center for Constitutional Studies (NCCS). It's called the Principles of Liberty and it will cover how and why the Constitution and our form of government were created.

It will give us all a chance to learn what we did not learn in our public schools, so children are welcome. The seminar will be held at the Holiday Inn Conference Center at FSK Mall. For more information or to learn how to register for this event you can visit the NCCS website at Or you can go to the We Surround Them -- Frederick website at

The second thing is a piece of legislation recently submitted by state Sen. Alex Mooney giving the state of Maryland sovereignty from national laws not authorized by our Constitution (SJ1 and HR2).

This would include things such as a national health care bill, and it would give Maryland the freedom to choose its own path toward a solution for health care and other similar national programs. The bill is a step toward wresting the power from the one-size-fits-all solutions presented by the federal government and returning it to the states.

Several states have already passed such laws (and as many as 40 have introduced such legislation); however, there is much opposition in Annapolis. The bill is scheduled to be heard in Annapolis on Feb. 17 between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. I urge everyone to become familiar with this courageous move by Mooney and come out to Annapolis and support this piece of legislation. If you cannot come, contact your representatives and tell them to support it and the freedom it provides us to choose our own destiny.

These two events are linked, in that understanding the Constitution and becoming familiar with states' rights go hand in hand (both concepts are based on the belief that the federal government should remain small). They give us the opportunity to learn about how our government is and should be working, and an educated citizenry is the best way to ensure we retain the liberties we were so lucky and blessed to have received by being born Americans.

No matter what political label one wears, these two events can only help us all become better citizens, allow us to hold our representatives accountable, and focus our frustration into productive actions for the future health of America. Please get involved.

[something that needs to be corrected. The SJ1 and HR2 bills will be heard in Annapolis on Feb. 17th between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., not Feb. 7. Also, for anyone who is interested, We Surround Them - Frederick has chartered a bus to travel to Annapolis for these hearings on Wednesday, Feb. 17th. If you are available and would like to reserve a seat, the cost is $15. For info about taking the bus go to

Original post is on:

Jim Lehmann is co-organizer of We Surround Them -- Frederick. He writes from Ijamsville.