Saturday, September 17 is Constitution Day and I’m betting we all celebrate in different ways, if at all, and each of those will be protected by the United States Constitution – as is, believe it or not, this column.
The Constitution of the United States has become a little bit more of a political football in recent years as many voters and politicians have begun to describe themselves as “constitutionalists.”
I’m not buying it.
I don’t think Pres. Dwight Eisenhower needed to call himself a “Constitutionalist” and was a better than average president – and a terrific conservative, so why in recent years do we need to become “strict” or “rigid” or “constitutionalists?”
I think it all comes down to marketing – which should not be a part of politics – but, yeah – who am I kidding?
Politics, these days, is all about marketing.
Regardless, the U.S. Constitution is a marvelous document, by as much as what it doesn’t say in addition to what it does say. It provides for us many gray areas in the laws of our land.
Some of the last and final good arguments I had with dear old dad were over – of all things – the Constitution.
“Dad, it says nothing in the U.S. Constitution about having an air force – but it says Congress can tax folks in order to have a navy – so do your ‘constitutionalists’ think we should abandon the air force?”
I’m sure by the time the week is out, I will see someone on Facebook say that a certain quarterback not standing and saluting his flag is “against the constitution.”
Ummmm….no – Mr. Key did not adapt the old drinking tune to his words for a few more decades after the Constitution was ratified by….well, not everyone.
That is the truly ironic thing about our United States Constitution: The men we remember and revere as our Founding Fathers were at each other’s throat throughout the writing of the Constitution and some didn’t even show up for the meeting. A few facts from the National Archives website:
• Rhode Island failed to sent Constitution Convention delegates to Philadelphia in 1787.
• Convention delegates were lawyers, soldiers, planters, educators, ministers, financiers and merchants. No wonder they didn’t all get along.
• Most of the arguments in drafting the Constitution were between large states and large populations and smaller states and their smaller populations. Not much has changed there, has it?
• The Constitution was drafted in fewer than 100 working days and it took a year to get the required nine states to ratify it.
• Most states had plenty of dissension within its own delegates – New York ratified the Constitution by a 30-27 vote, Massachusetts by 187-168 an Virginia by 89-79. (States could have the number of delegates it pleased.)
I’ve never been quite sure where constitutionalists get half their ideals as the Constitution itself is a fairly straight forward document, so imperfect that it has been added to, and added to….and added to over the years.
Those amendments to the Constitution provided rights for those who were not provided for in the original thinking – such as slaves their freedom and women the right to vote.
These United States are represented and guided by our ever-changing Constitution. And that’s a pretty incredible thing.
How admired is James Madison’s document?
I leave you with a quote from a 19th century British Prime Minister:
W.E. Gladstone – “…the American Constitution is, so far as I can see, the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man.”