I had the unusual experience of being able to attend a conservative political rally, called "Take America Back", on the Fourth of July. It was estimated that about 1,100 individuals came to the rally. It was rife with comical episodes, as would be expected at a rally promoting any sort of political views. The best of these episodes were the recurring Thoreau-esque Biblical parodies, including my favorite, "As for me and my house, we will fight for Liberty". The organizers of the event intended the event as a call for a return to Constitutionally limited government.
This event got me to thinking about the Constitution and the astounding ability of the American government to ignore it. This is not a new phenomenon. Almost as soon as the Constitution was ratified, the Federal Government passed the Alien and Sedition Acts, which gave the Federalists sweeping power to censor political protests. This seems decidedly opposed to the First Amendment to the Constitution. And now our elected officials run amok, doing whatever they feel is best, with no regard for the enumerated powers of Article One, Section Eight of the Constitution.
The big problem with Constitutions is that they can not enforce themselves. They must be enforced by elected representatives, who have very little incentive to limit their own power. Anyone who has observed children knows that limits without enforcement are no limits at all. Only presidential veto and judicial review (despite the latter's questionable Constitutionality) serve to enforce Constitutional limits on the Legislature. These, it can safely be said, are rarely used for this purpose.
Therefore, Constitutionally limited government appears to be in a bad state. There exists no reason to abide by it (other than principle) and no punishment for ignoring it. It is, however, incredibly important. The rally, despite its flaws and comical moments, was heartening because it showed that some people still care about their liberty and are willing to fight for it. The people themselves can be a check on the powers of government, by being willing to punish legislators who fail to follow their oath to defend the Constitution by voting them out of office. As Samuel Adams once said, "It does not take a majority to prevail... but rather an irate, tireless minority keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men." Hopefully "Take America Back" set some brushfires of freedom.