I'm currently reading, "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" by William L. Shirer, a man who personally knew Adolph Hitler. In his description of the years prior to Hitler's rise, Shirer mentions the drafting of the Weimar Constitution:
The constitution which emerged from the Assembly after six months of debate--it was passed on July 31, 1919, and ratified by the President on August 31--was, on paper, the most liberal and democratic document of its kind the twentieth century had seen, mechanically well-nigh perfect, working of an almost flawless democracy... The wording of the Weimar Constitution was sweet and eloquent to the ear of any democraticaly minded man. The people were declared sovereign: 'Political power emanates from the people.' Men and women were given the vote at the age of twenty. 'All Germans are equal before the law... Personal liberty is inviolable... Every German has a right...to express his opinion freely...All Germans have the right to form associations or societies... All inhabitants of the Reich enjoy complete liberty of belief and conscience...' No man in the world would be more free than a German, no government more democratic and liberal than his. On paper, at least.I hear critiques from individuals regularly, who denigrate the Constitution of the United States and lay at its feet the failures of government. History is consulted, blemishes rightfully cited - the Alien and Sedition Acts, Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus and refusal to recognize states' rights, the internment of 70,000 American citizens into prison camps without charge or trial in the 1940s, and more recently the NDAA and government claimed power to assassinate American citizens at will, without charge or trial. These individuals denigrate the Constitution for the sins that mere parchment was unable to prevent. Still, I hear other individuals who actually justify current and future sins by bringing up sins from the past (internment, Lincoln, etc) - an argument as ineffectual as a child molester justifying his plans to rape a child by pointing out that he has done it in the past.
The Constitution is merely paper for those who do not value the ideas written upon it. It's a contract and a set of instructions born from valuable history and forged to secure the best possible government given the reality of the world that we are forced to inhabit. It is not a magical device that prevents evil, or that restrains the shallow and the ambitious. Immoral people will evade and disregard it - and they will do so with more regularity and boldness when their nation is populated by those who do not value the document or understand the history that gave it birth. I find the breadth of people who devalue our Constitution alarming; from self described anarchists and liberty lovers who insult the Constitution for its failure to magically restrain immoral men, to liberals who wish the document interpreted to mean whatever they want it to mean thereby making it meaningless, to conservatives who pay lip service to the document when it comes to gun rights while denying the document's protection of the rights of others they don't agree with. With so much division, it's strange that one unifying shared belief between these differing world views is a passionate contempt for our Constitution.
Recently, Louis Seidman, a constitutional law professor (a profession that carries as much weight as the Nobel Peace Prize in the eyes of many these days), has come out and stated that the Constitution is worthless. He writes in the New York Times imploring his countrymen, "Let's Give Up on the Constitution."
When the people do not value their Constitution, it is absolutely certain the government will not value it. When our Constitution is ignored and debased, and the liberty of Americans is vanquished and replaced by outright tyranny - it will not be the Constitution that failed. It will be the People who failed. The Constitution, like any set of written instructions or any written contract, is only as useful as the character of the people employed in public service to abide and be restrained by it. If the People are of the opinion that the Constitution is of no value, their public servants will most assuredly faithfully represent them.