Politics is like a layer cake. The top layer is policy—whether or not abortion should be legal, guns should be controlled, health insurance should be nationalized, etc. Like everyone, I have opinions on all of these issues, some well-thought-out, some less so. Not all of my policy opinions are necessarily hard-line conservative, and on some issues, I am probably more inclined to agree with my liberal friends than with, say, a Southern Baptist. This is all well and good. Policy opinions are basically each person’s vision of the ideal society they would like to live in, and in a free society it follows that there would be a wide variety of such opinions, with each person legitimately advocating their own imagined paradise.
The bottom layer of the cake is process—things like the Constitution, separation of powers, and equality under the law. Process dictates how political decisions are made, irrespective of the specifics of the decision at hand. Most importantly, process determines who gets to make decisions, and therefore the degree to which the government represents the individual citizen. The root of all political process is the Constitution—it is, in fact, the supreme law of the United States. Therefore, if the Constitution is not legitimate, then no law is legitimate, and if it is subject to arbitrary modification, then so is every law, at any time. The Constitution is the process. And right now, that process is broken, because politicians simply ignore it when it suits them.
Consider: What difference do your views on abortion make, if abortion policy is set without taking your views into account? Why bother to form an opinion on gun control, if your opinion has no hope of affecting policy one way or another? As long as politicians are ignoring the Constitution, citizens who argue about policy are like a crazy homeless guy carrying on a loud conversation with someone he imagines to be there, but isn’t. The Constitution is the mechanism by which politicians are accountable to the citizens’ opinions. Without it, citizens—liberal and conservative—are mere observers, whether they realize it or not.
Two-layer cake, y’all. You can’t have a top layer without a bottom layer. The Constitution is most important, and to the degree it is threatened, it is the only thing that matters. Policy is also important, but only to the degree that the Constitution is obeyed.