This is the second in a series of anticipated posts closely reading the Constitution of the United States for homeland security implications. Readers are encouraged to use the comment function to add background, analysis, exegesis or exposition related to the text highlighted.
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.
Our prior polity under the Articles of Confederation had proven insufficient. There were many shortcomings — and threats of worse to come — emerging from the self-interest of individual States (and factions within each State) which ill-served the people as a whole.
James Madison gathered his thoughts, and the most credible critiques of the (original) Confederacy, in his Vices of the Political System of the United States. The document includes:
The practice of many States in restricting the commercial intercourse with other States, and putting their productions and manufactures on the same footing with those of foreign nations, though not contrary to the federal articles, is certainly adverse to the spirit of the Union, and tends to beget retaliating regulations, not less expensive & vexatious in themselves, than they are destructive of the general harmony.
Hence the Commerce Clause and the role of economic union as a (necessary?) foundation of political union.
One fundamental means for advancing “general harmony” is to cultivate a political culture so expansive and diverse as to make factionalism a creative rather than destructive force. In the same critique of the Confederacy Madison writes:
If an enlargement of the sphere is found to lessen the insecurity of private rights, it is not because the impulse of a common interest or passion is less predominant in this case with the majority; but because a common interest or passion is less apt to be felt and the requisite combinations less easy to be formed by a great than by a small number. The Society becomes broken into a greater variety of interests, of pursuits, of passions, which check each other, whilst those who may feel a common sentiment have less opportunity of communication and concert.
The profound paradox at the heart of the American notion of political union and personal freedom is prolific division and difference. Our interests are so diverse and our opinions so disparate as to mitigate against a sustained political consensus by which a majority can continually oppress a minority. Our Constitution anticipates, reflects, and nourishes variability as the best guarantor of prosperity and freedom. As the beauty and resilience of a great garden depends on the abundant diversity of species and parts, so does our Union.
The prior polity had not been perfect. The new polity has not been perfect. But the Constitution facilitates a perpetual process of forming a more perfect union.
Implications for homeland security:
Diversity of opinion and practice is a source of economic and cultural strength, proof of freedom-in-action.
Jurisdictional diversity is a framework for protecting diversity of opinion and practice.
As a matter of constitutional predisposition we do not merely tolerate diversity but depend on diversity as the most effective breeder of freedom, therefore of creativity and adaptation, and thereby of strength and resilience.
Hence the preoccupation of homeland security with intergovernmental and private-public collaboration, of engaging the whole community, and a strategic focus on resilience.