The value of public opinion and public sentiment / by kevin murray


The laws and the Constitution of any republic, or any democracy for that matter, are only as good and are only as effective as the public is willing to accept these things.  That is to say, for example, when a federal law is on the books, in which the vast majority of the public, does not readily support such a law, as in the draconian laws directly against those that utilize marijuana medicinally or recreationally, then the federal law will either be selectively enforced or even not enforced whatsoever, because a government that purports to be the government of the people, by the people, and for the people, has a sacred obligation to actually answer to those people.


This means that no matter what a given Constitution stipulates, or what established law has decided upon, that public opinion and public sentiment most definitely is germane as to whether those laws, in application, are going to be adjusted to that opinion and that sentiment.  This indicates that those that make the laws and those that enforce the laws, must recognize that laws that are not supported by the people, need to be looked at very carefully, for some of those laws are bad laws, and probably were bad laws when they were first written and thereby enforced.


It must be remembered that the Constitution itself is the supreme law of this land, of which, to disobey this Constitution or to circumvent that Constitution, arbitrarily, or wantonly, would in its effect, undermine that Constitution along with its abiding power and relevancy.  Rather, the Constitution, itself, has created the conditions for Amendments to that Constitution, so that while slavery was once the law of the land, this ultimately was abolished through the Constitution's 13th Amendment.  So too, voting rights were once limited to those that owned property and were white, but this too has been amended, to include all adults of 18 or older, of either sex.  In this, public opinion and public sentiment, changed to the conditions of the day, and that Constitution thereby changed with it.  That is to say, there is truth in the words that Victor Hugo, stated, “No force on earth can stop an idea whose time has come."


This implies, though, that fair and just ideas that have not yet won over the public, more often than not, are going to be fair and just ideas that will not see the light of the day, because without public opinion and public sentiment that favor such, they often do die upon the vine, for the lack of that support from the people as a whole.  So too, those that have a vested interest in seeing that certain laws do not change, despite a public demand that they do, are often able to hold the dogs at bay for an extended period of time, primarily because the law once made, is often hard to unmake.   


This indicates that when the inalienable rights of the people are subsumed by State or National governments that to retrieve back those very rights for the people is an exercise that can take an extended period of time, of which, ultimately, it is often only through a grassroots effort of unrelenting public sentiment and pressure that the people can succeed in getting the very thing that should have been theirs to begin with.