by Michael Maharrey

The visiting team trails 21-14 as the final seconds tick off the clock. It’s fourth-and-goal at the 1-yard line. The quarterback takes his place under center as a deafening roar rises up from the partisan home crowd. The quarterback takes the snap, turns and smacks the ball into the running back’s gut. The back plunges forward, legs churning for the end zone. He looks left, darts right and leaps toward the goal line. A mighty collision as a 240 pound linebacker meets him mid-air. The impact throws the ball carrier backward and he tumbles to the ground, a half yard short of the end zone. After a moment of silence, the home fans erupt in jubilation as the horn sounds ending the game.

But wait. A sudden movement draws the crowd’s attention toward the referee. He runs along the goal line, both arms raised high, signaling a touchdown. The fans groan in displeasure. Home players stand stunned. The coach goes apoplectic on the sideline. The running back clearly crashed to the turf well short of a touchdown.

Several minutes pass as officials huddle closely together in consultation. Then the referee keys his mic and offers an explanation.

“Even though the runner was down short of the end zone, we feel he was close enough to warrant granting him the touchdown. We believe it is in the best interest of the fans, and of the league in general, for this game to continue into overtime. The rules reserve a certain interpretive latitude to officials. The running back’s effort certainly deserves a reward. The touchdown stands.”

A ridiculous scenario, you say? The referee can’t arbitrarily ignore the rules of the game, even if it is for the better, you argue?

Indeed.

Yet progressives assert equally ridiculous notions when it come to applying the rules specified by the Constitution governing the United States.

In a Sept. 21 Washington Post column, Richard Cohen asserts:

This fatuous infatuation with the Constitution, particularly the 10th Amendment, is clearly the work of witches, wiccans and wackos. It has nothing to do with America’s real problems and, if taken too seriously, would cause an economic and political calamity. The Constitution is a wonderful document, quite miraculous actually, but only because it has been wisely adapted to changing times. To adhere to the very word of its every clause hardly is respectful to the Founding Fathers. They were revolutionaries who embraced change. That’s how we got here.

The Constitution provides a framework, the rulebook if you will, for government. Each clause, each principle, was carefully crafted for a specific reason. The entire document was meant to constrain and control federal power. When we begin to ignore and rewrite various checks and balances written into the Constitution by the framers, we tear at the very fabric of the Republic. And we run the risk of unleashing power that will soon wash away the freedoms and liberties the founders so cherished.

Thomas Jefferson said, “The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first.”

A football game would degenerate into chaos without adherence to the rulebook. If referees could arbitrarily award touchdowns, the game would cease to have any real meaning. Can you imagine the ridicule that would befall an official calling the NFL rulebook a living breathing document?

Ignoring the precepts of the Constitution creates the same type of chaos in government. The safeguards that our founders so carefully formulated to protect individual liberty erode away. Arbitrary power becomes the defining instrument of government.

Progressives say the Constitution must be reinterpreted and molded to fit the times. The same holds true for the rules of football, and the game has certainly change and evolved over the years. But referees don’t simply ignore the rules. Changes in the game flow out of changes to the rulebook. Committees meet. Discussions occur. Then votes are cast. Only after following a carefully prescribed procedure do substantive changes in the game take place.

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Likewise, procedures exist to change the Constitution – the amendment process.

But progressives like Cohen would rather not be bothered with such tedious procedures. They see things that need doing, so they just go ahead and do them, ignoring the rule book and make things up as they go along.

Progressives may desire the best for the country. But they are as arrogant as they are good intentioned. They believe that they hold the best solutions, therefore, they should not have to adhere to the rules. They view the Constitution not as a protection for the people, but as an obstacle to overcome on the way to bigger and better things. Progressives know best and shouldn’t be bothered with trivialities such as taking the Constitution “too seriously”.

The Constitution spells things out in plain language. With a little study, we can easily determine the intent of the framers. But progressives find new meanings, twisting words into unrecognizable precepts and simply ignoring others.

We would be wise to heed the words of Samuel Adams.

“How strangely will the Tools of a Tyrant pervert the plain Meaning of Words!”

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