(Analysis.) Why should an American want to be a citizen of the great United States, instead of just a member of one’s own little tribe? What is the purpose of the United States? The preamble to the U.S. Constitution answers that question:
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, 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.
In that statement we find six goals, with each relying on others:
- Union: A society of persons striving together towards the other five goals.
- Justice: Equal application of law and equal access to the commonwealth, regardless of one’s office or monetary wealth.
- Tranquility: Peace, which follows justice and welfare.
- Defense: Standing guard against forces that would harm the Constitution and the pursuit of the other five goals.
- Welfare: The people’s well-being, which is advanced by the commonwealth: the land (national parks, environmental protection, …), infrastructure (highways, railways, water lines, postal service, airwaves, communications satellites, Internet, …), public education, libraries, Medicare, the social safety net (minimum wage, Social Security, …), …
- Liberty: Freedom to do what one will without treading on another’s. That freedom needs the space given by tranquility (freedom from strife) and welfare (freedom from want of basic needs).
Now, as the first five goals all lead to the last, and as the present generation leads to next, we might venture an ultimate answer to our question: The purpose of the United States is to secure the blessings of liberty to its children.
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