Why The Constitution Was “A More Perfect Union”

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Posted: Sep 12, 2018 9:42 AM
Why The Constitution Was “A More Perfect Union”

The reason for the statement to form a more perfect Union in the Constitution is that under the Articles of Confederation the Federal government was struggling – struggling financially to maintain a basic level of economic cooperation between the several states.  The Convention of 1787 was called to develop modifications to the Articles to remedy this situation.  Many complained that the new Constitution was not perfect and asked why the Convention didn’t wait to submit it for ratification to the several States until it was perfect.  In the final Federalist Paper, Federalist 85, Alexander Hamilton responded quite directly, “I never expect to see a perfect work from imperfect man.”[1]  In fact, according to Dr. Lutz of the University of Houston, half to two-thirds of the Constitution was previously in the Articles of Confederation;[2] supporting the purpose of forming a more perfect Union.

The sentiments of maintaining a confederation was also upheld by the Founding Fathers who authored the Anti-Federalist Papers.   Brutus acknowledges “that the circumstances of our country are such as to demand a compound instead of a simple, a confederate instead of a sole, government,” and a confederate government, which was underscored by God’s eternal laws, with split power between the federal government and State government.  “[T]he state governments should possess the means to attain the end expected from them, as for the general [federal] government,” states Brutus.  “Neither the general government nor the state governments ought to be vested with all the powers proper to be exercised for promoting the ends of government.  The powers are divided between them – certain ends are to be attained by the one, and certain ends by the other; and these, taken together, include all the ends of good government.”[3]

This is a condition we cannot escape.  This same selfish ambition drives the economic pillar of the Great Experiment of America.  As commentator Dinesh D’Souza explains, this selfish drive is the very mechanism which creates the serving enhancement of the public good, which is a foundational Christian tenet.  D’Souza clarifies that “capitalism satisfies the Christian demand for an institution that channels selfish human desire toward the betterment of society.  Some critics accuse capitalism of being a selfish system, but the selfishness is not in capitalism – it is human nature….The effect of capitalism is to steer human selfishness so that, through the invisible hand of competition, the energies of the capitalist produce the abundance from which the whole society benefits.”[4]

Father James Schall, retired Georgetown professor of philosophy, further emphasizes that “There is nothing ignoble in thinking that everyone should live in abundance.”[5]  In fact, capitalism places the individual in the position as authority of sovereign decision-making or as economist.  Ludwig von Mises eloquently states, “Under capitalism, material success depends on the appreciation of a man’s achievements on the part of the sovereign consumers.”[6]  Consumers are the master, not the capitalist.  The capitalist must serve the consumer.

In fact, the great economist and professor from Carnegie Mellon University, Allan Meltzer, brilliantly and astutely opined that “Capitalism without failure is like religion without sin.  It doesn’t work well.”[7]  Man learns the most successfully through failure.  It is the very reason churches are full of sinners; and why the most successful businessmen always have many stories of their failures.

So how does the individualistic attitude and behavior fit into the fact that we live amongst many different people in the United States?  Returning to the Declaration of Independence gives us our answer.  It lies in the very last line of our founding document:

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Again, we find God directly involved with each one of us in this action – it reminds and keeps us God-centered.  It tells us that we cannot achieve this without God.  And we cannot do it without each other – the very purpose of our churches; to mutually support each other as we build our personal relationship with God and Christ.   To mutually support each other as we build our nation.  Building ourselves and building our country both rely on God – and we support each other through our charity[8] toward one another. 

[1] Alexander Hamilton, May 28, 1788, Federalist Paper No. 85.   Taken from James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay, The Federalist Papers: The Classic Original Edition, (SoHo Books), p. 254.

[2] Donald S. Lutz, 1988, The Origins of American Constitutionalism, (Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press), p. 133.

[3] Antifederalist Paper No. 33, Brutus (Robert Yates), December 27, 1887, Taken from Patrick Henry, Robert Yates, and Samuel Byron, The Anti Federalist Papers, 2010 (originally published 1787-1790), “, (Lexington, KY:  Pacific Publishing Studios), pp. 64-65.

[4] Dinesh D’Souza, 2007, What’s So Great About Christianity, (Washington D.C.: Regnery Publishing, Inc.), p. 62.

[5] Religion & Liberty, Summer 2013, Vol. 23, No. 3, “Poverty and Ultimate Riches:  An Interview with Fr. James Schall SJ,” (Grand Rapids, MI: Action Institute), p. 12.

[6] Ludwig von Mises, 2008 (originally published originally in 1956), The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality, (Auburn, AL: Ludwig von Mises Institute), p. 31.

[7] Allan H. Meltzer, 2012, Why Capitalism? (Oxford University Press, New York, NY), p. 22.

[8] Charity – self-sacrifice, based on individuals giving willingly, to another, of their self, wealth (or prosperity), and knowledge in the honor of God.