Thursday, September 15, 2011

Happy Constitution Day

I thought about trying to come up with something truly inspiring in honor of the 224 years that the Constitution has been around on the day before it was signed by the members of the Constitutional Convention of 1787.  I quickly realized however, that any words of mine would be so far overshadowed by the Constitution as to be all but meaningless.  Then again, the day of celebration may incorrect, since the document didn't become official until ratified by at least nine of the thirteen original colonies, something which didn't occur until almost a year later (though almost on the same day), on September 13, 1788.

But enough of the history lesson about a document that tragically few understand anyway.  The simple truth of the matter is that we must shamefully admit that with very few exceptions, the only people in this country that do understand it, other than Libertarians, Tea Party members, and Constitutional scholars are the citizens of this country that became so only through the immigration and naturalization process.  

Government sponsored re-education camps no longer teach it's construction and principles, believing it to be little more than the outdated pronouncements of a bunch of slave-owning white men.  Many of the graduates of such rigid indoctrination also believe it to be a 'living document' subject to the will of the mob and historic (or perhaps more accurately, hysteric) re-interpretation. Politicians who take an oath of office to "preserve, protect, and defend" this document often spend more of their time in office trying to figure out ways to get around it than they spend in fulfilling such oaths.  Nominees seeking to take up the robes of the Supreme Court, the branch of government designed to determine whether new laws fall within the limits of this document, often preclude themselves from consideration for such duties by being 'strict constructionists'.  (In other words, if you understand and believe in the language of the Constitution, you are unfit to rule on things that might impact its meanging.)

Of course the fact that I almost always have a pocket copy of this document and the Declaration of Independence with me might have something to do with what might be seen as unwarranted concern on the subject.  The fact that I have read more than a few books about interpreting the language used by the Founders in writing it ("The Original Constitution" by Robert G Natelson is particularly good) might indicate a certain level of preoccupation with the document defining and limiting our government.  The fact that I recently managed to get through all of the arguments set forth by those early Founders for ratification in "The Federalist Papers" (the original, not the Beck translation) might indicate to you how serious I am about this.

So you can imagine how crazy I get when I have to patiently explain that there is no "separation of church and state" laid out in the Constitution.  In fact, the First Amendment merely prohibits the establishment of a national religion, and prevents laws from being written prohibiting religious practice.  You can likewise imagine how frustrated I get with people not understanding that election of Senators by state legislatures was not a mistake, but by design as a way to set the power of states in balance with the potential power of the federal government.  You can well imagine how insane I get when explaining that the Constitution does not define the boundaries of a democratic government in the United States, but instead sets the limits of government power in a representative republic; something far different.

I could go on ad nauseum, but fortunately for you I'm saving myself for some continuing education on the Constitution on its birthday this year.  While sadly not being able to attend the session at Owens Community College in Toledo with any number of friends and acquaintances this weekend, I will be attending (by computer) the sessions being held by Hillsdale College today.  Now Hillsdale has long been famous for its Constitutional scholarship, and today's sessions will no doubt be both entertaining and enlightening.  While I will have to settle for the archived video in most cases (as my employer has strangely not declared this a national holiday and given me the day off), I am looking forward to the live presentation being given by Charles Krauthammer at 8PM Eastern time this evening.

I hope that each of you, even if you choose not go through such an extensive educational process, might take just a minute or two tomorrow to read and understand even a portion of the document that provides the blanket of freedom that we sleep under.

Happy Constitution Day! 


1 comment:

Roland Hansen said...

I do not understand any of this stuff about that thing. Whatever it is. However, I do take my daily constitutional by walking three miles or by riding the bicycle for 5 to 10 miles.