PIERRE, S.D. -- My son and I are on ground where one of my heroes -- the legendary Joe Foss, U.S. Marine, America's leading ace in aerial combat, Medal of Honor recipient, mentor and friend -- once stood beside me. We're hunting -- exercising our Second Amendment right "to keep and bear Arms." We will be back home in time to vote in hopes that this right of the people won't be infringed. But I wonder.
Last week in Ohio, the Obama campaign suggested that Americans need a "second Bill of Rights." The idea -- not a new one for liberals -- came this time from Rep. Marcy Kaptur as she introduced Sen. Obama at a rally in Toledo. Kaptur enthusiastically endorsed the initiative, first proffered by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt Jan. 11, 1944. Obama said nothing to disabuse his enthusiastic followers of the notion. But it was a bad idea when FDR advocated it, and it is now.
President Roosevelt made the proposal in his State of the Union address -- delivered over the radio from the White House instead of in person before Congress. He claimed that he had the flu and that his doctors would not permit him "to go up to the Capitol." The nation was then -- as we are today -- at war. And FDR, the "indispensable leader," already was preparing for his fourth presidential campaign.
In promoting his new "Bill of Rights," Roosevelt observed that we already enjoyed "certain inalienable political rights -- among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures." He then said, "They were our rights to life and liberty." Notably, FDR used the past tense and omitted the Second Amendment in its entirety -- no small lapse when nearly 16 million Americans were under arms.
Unfortunately, the idea that our original Bill of Rights is inadequate -- or even archaic -- has achieved new currency with liberals. In enumerating his abbreviated version of the first 10 amendments to our Constitution, FDR described our rights as "political" and insufficient. The Framers saw them as God-given and a sacred trust to deliver unabridged to future generations.
Therein is the challenge in next week's elections. The mainstream media and the polls predict a rout to the left. Does that mean Congress would have free rein to resurrect FDR's "second Bill of Rights"? And if so, what then happens to the real Bill of Rights, first handed into our care Dec. 15, 1791?
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.