Insuring Domestic Tranquility ~ A Constitutional Conundrum
Following its use in the Preamble, literally nothing more is said about this subject in the US Constitution and, depending on one’s perspective, that is either blessing or curse. We all desire "peace at home" and do not wish conflict within or among our communities. But if much about America at its founding was remarkable and to many, a gathering of great minds that could only have been arranged through Divine Providence, then much about our flourishing for almost 250 years is equally amazing.
Throughout history, nations who do not fall to the sword or under the weight of their own excess and poor fiscal policy, are prone to fall to the powerful from within who take the term “domestic tranquility” to new heights with excessive laws, rules, and over regulation. The result is typically unrest often followed by uprisings and sometimes concluded by civil war. America has had her share of all the above.
The question really is, how far should the FEDERAL government go to Insure “domestic tranquility,” vs allowing individuals and state and local governments to make those “assurances?” And the answer MUST be - not very far and even less often. With the rare exception of natural disasters, the refusal of some southern states to allow black students to enter pubic schools, and the terrorist attacks of 2001, the use of Federal Troops to "control" the people within the states has, thankfully, not been considered appropriate by members of any party and just about all political philosophies and persuasions. Can you just imagine how you would feel if a future president sent Federal Troops into your hometown to quel an uprising over, say education or healthcare issues? It would be unconscienable - and would most assuredly lead to major public unrest and even Civil War.
As Ben Franklin warned, protecting people from themselves can be very dicey business. Perhaps the best contemporary examples of the “potential” excessive use of Federal power to insure domestic tranquility might be:
The WWII incarcerations of upwards of 120,000 Americans of Japanese decent; and
The initiation of The Patriot Act* of 2001 following the terrorist attacks of September 11th of that year.
The former was ignored by most moral Americans at the time our of fear, but universally condemned in hindsight; the excesses of the latter have been limited, but it remains to be seen whether or not Americans “gave up any essential liberties for safety.”
On the flip side, The Civil War and the enforcement of Civil rights by the Kennedy Administration are perhaps two worthy examples of the purpose and value of insuring domestic tranquility - unfortunately, at a horrendous cost.
*Did you know that the USA PATRIOT ACT of 2001 stands for Uniting (and) Strengthening America (by) Providing Appropriate Tools Required (to) Intercept (and) Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001.