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Monday, November 28, 2022

Opinion

Politicians fail to adhere to the Constitution


the constitution with a giant red x on it

Iqra Rafey/The Cougar

Politicians are heavily politicizing the Constitution rather than adhering to the document. 

With the modern U.S.’s divided political climate, it can be a challenge to pinpoint who the actual defenders of such an important document really are and who are just claiming to be for the sake of political clout. 

Over the years, however, it has become clear that a staggering amount of politicians who are meant to represent what the Constitution stands for do not fully understand the implications that lie beneath it.

Over the course of the last decade alone, political views deemed as “extreme” have taken over mainstream American politics. 

There is a growing resentment towards more moderate politicians who have been seen as unproductive and not passionate enough to serve the changing needs of the people they serve. 

Thus, they are quickly vanishing in favor of more far-left and far-right candidates. The newfound motivation for these candidates to cater to this polarization in order to maintain political power means that they lose touch with the purpose of their service: to serve the people based on the interpretation of the Constitution.

This dilemma is already apparent. 

Earlier this year, Republican representative Lauren Boebert of Colorado expressed her resentment towards the separation of church and state doctrine, spouting her beliefs that the “church is supposed to direct the government.”

In reality, this contradicts the Establishment Clause which explicitly states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”

Boebert’s comments not only demonstrate her lack of understanding of the Constitution’s core values despite claiming to be a staunch defender of it, but her comments also highlight a concerning trend in faux patriotism that stems from personal rhetoric rather than interpretation of the living document. 

It is an unfortunate reminder that American politics has developed into less of an act of service to the nation, but rather a divisive battle for power.

Misconstruing the Constitution is more than just preconceived rhetoric as well, and it is more of a bipartisan issue than many may think. 

Many claim that a series of bills heavily backed by Democrats designed to federalize the voting system contradicts the document, which states that each state may conduct the “times, places, and manner” of their elections. 

While these laws were merely a counterattack to voter suppression, it appears that the Founding Fathers’ words prevail in the eyes of the American people.

So what has caused such a widespread misunderstanding of Constitutional values by both politicians and their constituents, many of whom pledge loyal allegiance to this document?

A study conducted by the Woodrow Wilson Foundation shows that this dilemma stems more from the lack of civic education than anything else. 

Their results showed that only around 25 percent of Americans knew how many amendments the document had. That same percentage of surveyed people were unable to point out all of the guaranteed rights in the First Amendment. 

While not knowing these details may seem insignificant to the average American, it highlights a major issue that keeps the country divided. 

The Constitution is continually weaponized by both sides of the political aisle, despite the obvious fact that very few people who use it within their argument actually understand the context of it. 

Education is vital when it comes to making political decisions and the lack of basic civics knowledge can be an easy way toward political manipulation.

Michael King is a political science sophomore who can be reached at [email protected]

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