Treaties are rewriting the U.S. Constitution.
The framers gave the executive branch, balanced by the Senate, the authority to make treaties for the good of the nation, and they described “the supreme law of the land” as the Constitution itself along with any duly passed amendments, laws and treaties.
In other words, to read the Constitution, you would have to read the Preamble, the 7 Articles, and all the Amendments to the Constitution.
You would also have to read all laws and treaties that the U.S. has adopted.
It is popular for some conservative speakers and teachers to ask their audiences and students to stop what they are doing and read the Constitution aloud — and people on the far Right and far Left are prone to hand out copies the Constitution and tell people to read it. Some officials carry a copy of the Constitution around in their pocket.
I applaud this focus on our nation’s supreme governing document, and I wish a lot more people took their freedoms this seriously.
But something is missing — treaties, which are pretty much never read in such settings or carried around by politicians or activists.
In short, most people don’t know what the Constitution says or exactly what it means. But even most of those who do know these things, aren’t clear on what treaties add to our supreme law of the land.
When I’ve asked audiences how many have ever read a U.S. treaty, I sometimes get one hand raised. Usually, nobody has.
In other words, we are ruled by a secret government document. A number of them, in fact.
Between the ratification of the Constitution in 1789 and 1900, the U.S. adopted 39 international treaties (and honored 13 others that had been agreed upon before the U.S. Constitution).
In the progressive era between 1900 and 1937, those seeking more elite power in the U.S. helped increase their influence by implementing an additional 37 treaties.
Since 1937, we’ve adopted 81 more treaties, plus one that was never ratified by has been fully implemented by the federal government.
That’s at least 166 international treaties and thousands of pages — all added to the U.S. Constitution, along with every law and budget passed by Congress.
In these documents are found a number of changes to the Constitutional framework, including allegiance to international organizations, international court precedents, international peacekeeping, and a number of expenditures that must be funded by American taxpayers.
When people hear of this, or think of it if they already knew, some immediately ask, “What treaties? What do they say? Where can I read them?”
Actually, such questions are rare. Most people just respond with blank stares, glaze-covered eyes that say, “Who cares?” or “Not surprising.”
But if you are one who wants to know where our freedoms have gone, the easy way to read these treaties is on the internet.
For example, look for a few of the worst offenders of our freedoms: the Bretton Woods Agreement, the UN Charter, General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, Rio Treaty, Treaty of Washington, Fourth Geneva Convention, SEATO Treaty, CENTO Treaty…
This is getting really boring for modern readers, and I’ve only listed eight of about thirty that really matter. The citizens in the American founding generation would devour this — they’d read all of these treaties, think about every word, and make their concerns widely known.
But in our day…the silence is deafening.
At the very least, every person who cares about freedom should know the details of the Vienna Conventions, the Plaza Accord, Oslo and Camp David Accords, NAFTA, the Rome Statute, PLT, SPLT, FTAA…I’m getting boring again.
Oh, and not all of these are even ratified. Some are currently pending.
But most Americans have no idea what the changes to our Constitution even are. In fact, I’d guess it’s far less than 1 percent of our population.
Another way to say this: We don’t really deserve freedom anymore.
In the founding generation, the large majority of voting citizens read and studied all such documents. In our day, hardly anyone does.
We’ve turned our freedoms, our nation, and our future, over to a few experts and government officials.
To make the point even more strongly, I recently asked an audience of politically active Americans how many had read the Paul Ryan budget and the current Obama Administration budget. Only one person raised a hand.
Really? Do we even want to be free? Do we really think that we can just ignore things like Washington’s budgets and current treaties and a few experts will make sure that our freedoms remain intact?
This has never, ever, happened in world history. But somehow we think it will be fine for us?
When an elite few know what’s going on in the fine print — treaties, laws, court cases, budgets — while the rest of the nation ignores these things, freedom is always forfeited. Always. This is how great nations decline. And make no mistake: we are declining.
After the speech I mentioned, a young man asked me to please teach a class on the Obama and Ryan budgets. I’m going to do it, but I bet I won’t get more than a few people to take the class. Not that such a class is necessary — people can just look these things up on the internet and read them. It’s usually free, and most of these documents can be found in a matter of seconds.
When we lose our freedom, we’ll just be getting what we deserve. The founders would look at our generation in amazement. So many blessings, and so much potential, yet we just ignore what the government does every day and expect it remain free.
Novelist Ray Bradbury said,
“There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.”
That’s where we are as a nation. We have the literacy to read, the freedom to choose our future. Instead, we let a few elites read the important things and choose for us. Do we deserve our freedom?
If this makes you angry, good. Do you deserve freedom? The founding fathers and mothers earned their liberties. They deserved their freedom.
Do you? What are you going to do about it?
Oliver DeMille is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling co-author of LeaderShift: A Call for Americans to Finally Stand Up and Lead, the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.
Among many other works, he is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, The Coming Aristocracy, and FreedomShift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny.
Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.