BY DARREN CAMPBELL
One of the most poignant and most recognized sentences in the English language, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal….” is followed by an equally charged, yet often unrecognized sentence, “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed ….”
I often wonder about those men who set out to “create a new and more perfect union.” Did they know that they would set the course for America to be the longest surviving democracy? Did they have any idea that their words would strike a chord in the hearts of millions of Americans? Could they fathom the number of men and women willing to sacrifice their lives to protect those ideals that they held so dear? Could they imagine the America of today, where these freedoms give us the opportunity to have our voices heard, to shout our injustices, disparagements, and qualms with those elected to represent us?
I believe in the concept of our nation. I believe that we are free when we are self-ruled. I believe that the Constitution is the supreme law of the United States of America. I believe that without the Constitution, we would no longer governed by the people but be on the shaky ground of tyrannical rule. Those who created the framework of our government remembered all too well the burden of colonial rule and set forth to create a government where no person or party could wield total rule. That is why bills are vetted, examined, and passed through three separate branches of our government. One cannot simply decide that a law is constructed and enforced — and what a better country we are for that. We must, at all cost, preserve and protect the rights that have served us well for 244 years.
In years past, I have had the opportunity to visit our nation’s capital, and I took an afternoon to visit the National Holocaust Museum. It was the most sobering afternoons I have ever had. I left with the words of former President George W. Bush weighing heavily on my mind:
“Here we will learn that each of us bears responsibility for our actions and for our failure to act. Here we will learn that we must intervene when we see evil arise. Here we will learn more about the moral by which we navigate our lives and by which countries navigate the future.” (George W. Bush — February 15, 1991)
I draw upon the words of Sydney J. Harris, who said: “History repeats itself, but in such cunning disguise that we never detect the resemblance until the damage is done.” Recently, we have seen where, albeit in the form of goodwill, those who govern us, have attempted to bypass our Constitution. Whereas the efficiency of such bypasses is not open to interpretation by myself or anyone else in my capacity, I will say empathetically, that it is not a matter up for debate, but simply an overreach of power. In my duty, as your elected sheriff, I cannot and will not waver on this issue. I must stand firm on the oath taken before you, and before my God, and do as I have sworn, “that I will support the Constitution of the Unites States; that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the State of North Carolina, and to the constitutional powers and authorities which are or maybe established for the government thereof; and endeavor to support, maintain and defend the constitution of said state, not inconsistent with the Constitution of the United States, to the best of my knowledge and ability, so help me God.”
Each of us, myself included, must not waver upon the foundation that our nation was so solidly built. My commitment to defend the Constitution cannot and will not waver. We must not allow our government to sidestep our freedoms, our rights, nor our Constitution. We must never allow emotional charge to dull our sight of vetting, maintaining, and demanding that our government perform its due diligence in governing her people. We can never simply “let this one slide.” Once this precedent is set, there is no back tracking. Our Constitution is not and never will be a political statement, and we must not make it one. We must hold our Constitution as an age-old playbook, defining the rules of the game, and if we are to win, and democracy to prevail, we must abide by the rules, now and always.
I ask that, in these unprecedented and uncertain times, that you hold our leaders and our nation close in prayer, and may we forever remain “one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”
Darren Campbell is the Iredell County sheriff.