Reagan on The Constitution

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“Over the years—I won’t count if you don’t—nothing has been so heartwarming to me as speaking to America’s young, and the little ones especially, so fresh-faced and so eager to know. Well, from time to time I’ve been with them—they will ask about our Constitution. And I hope you Members of Congress will not deem this a breach of protocol if you’ll permit me to share these thoughts again with the young people who might be listening or watching this evening. I’ve read the constitutions of a number of countries, including the Soviet Union’s. Now, some people are surprised to hear that they have a constitution, and it even supposedly grants a number of freedoms to its people. Many countries have written into their constitution provisions for freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. Well, if this is true, why is the Constitution of the United States so exceptional?

“Well, the difference is so small that it almost escapes you, but it’s so great it tells you the whole story in just three words: We the people. In those other constitutions, the Government tells the people of those countries what they’re allowed to do. In our Constitution, we the people tell the Government what it can do, and it can do only those things listed in that document and no others. Virtually every other revolution in history has just exchanged one set of rulers for another set of rulers. Our revolution is the first to say the people are the masters and government is their servant. And you young people out there, don’t ever forget that. Someday you could be in this room, but wherever you are, America is depending on you to reach your highest and be your best—because here in America, we the people are in charge.

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