“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, 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.”
When Dr. Khizr Khan, father of fallen Army Capt. Humayun S. M. Khan, and his wife, Ghazala, spoke out during the final day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in July 2016, he posed the question, “Have you even read the United States Constitution?” to the GOP Presidential candidate at the time. He then pulled a pocket-sized copy of the document out of his jacket and offered it as a gift. That moment should have been a wake-up call for ALL Americans to recognize the awesome responsibility we have as citizens to be able to respond to that question, “Have you even read the U.S. Constitution?” affirmatively. If we do not know the rights, protections and privileges we have as citizens, then we are unable to hold our government, our leaders and our institutions accountable to us, “We the People…” The words written in our Constitution speak to our inalienable and sacred rights, and the privileges we hold as citizens that are indisputable.
The truth is that all politics are local. The consequences of who is included and who is not when considering the question of “rights” remains problematic and often difficult to reconcile. We continue to witness an assault on those so-called rights within our own communities as we look at our school systems and the school-to-prison pipeline, our criminal justice system, the persistent economic disparities experienced by communities of color, and the lack of access to adequate healthcare and wellness initiatives that overshadow the claim that all citizens are covered by the promises promoted within the U.S. Constitution.
“We the People…promote the general Welfare and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity…” A lack of engagement in the political process by those of us most keenly affected by it allows the powerful and elite to continue to amass more and more power, while the separation between those who “have” and those who “do not have” increases exponentially. The resulting consequences are a lack of representation within a democratic process that is supposed to be representative of the People. When, in fact, it is not representing us at all. The circus that is the “healthcare debate” currently proceeding in the U.S. Senate is a case in point. The powerful and privileged few have decided to clandestinely collude with one another to dismantle the nation’s healthcare system and reorganize it in a way that is most beneficial to them and others like them, while adversely affecting millions upon millions of American citizens, leaving most of the People they represent AND the colleagues with whom they serve out of the deliberations entirely. This is a crisis and a call to respond to the question posed by a true American patriot, “Have you even read the U.S. Constitution?”
As we bask in the glow of another Independence Day, and as a nation collectively celebrate the freedoms we hold so dear, we need to make a commitment to STAND on the promises made by the U.S. Constitution. Get off the sidelines and get into the process that is our Democracy. The fight for our freedom, our liberty, and our health and welfare is in the hands and active participation of “We the People!”