The opening words of our constitution — the Preamble — is really a job description by the American people that lays out the goals and responsibilities of the newly formed government. The Preamble as presented states the following:
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, 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.”
As the American people state in the Preamble, the government and those charged with running the government advanced an ambitious and demanding job description for the new nation, but it is not terribly specific about how best to implement this vision of the future. Nevertheless, the American people and the Founding Fathers who wrote the Constitution clearly wanted this new nation to remain unified, based on a system of justice, guaranteeing peace, security and good fortune, and most of all developed around the principle of liberty.
Yet, despite the importance of the Preamble to the future direction of our country, there have been too many examples where the job description set by the American people failed to be implemented or at least only partially achieved. For example, our “perfect Union” was severely threatened by the bloody Civil War between North and South from 1861-1865, in large part over slavery and states’ rights. And then after the war, there remained animosity between North and South along with widespread discrimination against the freed slaves. Today, there are serious political divisions over public policy and national values. We now live in a time when our nation is split between so-called Blue States (liberal and Democratic) and Red States (conservative and Republican) on issues such as abortion, gun control, LGBTQ rights, racial equity, and the role of the government. There are now real concerns that the goal of a “perfect Union” will not be easily attainable as this political polarization is so intense and deep that there appears to be little chance of bringing the nation together any time soon.