Last week, I posed a set of questions to my Facebook fam, and nobody bothered to comment on it with their answers. Nobody even Liked the post or otherwise reacted to it. It's understandable that it received no response, as it requires quite a bit more thought than the average Facebook status.
I'm not a Constitution Fan-Boy like Ted Cruz. For all its virtues and historic value, the US Constitution is a flawed document. At least the Framers saw fit to include methods to amend it to fix whatever flaws it may exhibit, although amending it is, by design, a very cumbersome process.
Unlike Senator Cruz, I have never claimed to have the Constitution memorized, but thanks to Schoolhouse Rock, I have been able to sing the Preamble since I was in grade school.
It would be a fitting American ritual, in my fevered imagination, for Americans, immigrants, and even foreign visitors to get together in groups and read the Constitution, as amended, out loud on or around 17 September. That way, people might better remember what's actually in it—and, just as importantly, what is not.
The ritual would take a couple of hours. It could certainly involve drinks. Because beer and Benjamin Franklin.
It's a pity that most Americans—even very smart ones, even quite a few TV news anchors—seem to have trouble reading anything aloud. Most of us are accustomed to reading silently. I'm told that silent reading was considered a rare skill in ancient times. Supposedly, everyone who could read would read anything worth reading aloud, even when reading to themselves for pleasure. There are certainly quantitative and qualitative differences in comprehension when one reads aloud compared to silently.
But I digress. Back to the Constitution.
The Preamble has no actual force of law, but it has great philosophical importance. It answers the question of why the Framers bothered to swelter through that Philadelphia summer to hammer out a document that created what is now the longest-surviving republic still in business.
What do the following phrases mean to you, at a practical level, both individually and as a whole package?
What would you recommend that the federal government do to accomplish them?
Which of them, if any, is most important to you?
1. establish justice
2. insure domestic tranquility
3. provide for the common defense
4. promote the general welfare
5. secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity
Chances are, your answers to these questions are at the very root of your party identification or lack thereof, and you may not even know it. That's the reason I thought to ask the questions.
It was, more or less, my response to this video of a slimmed down, unusually placid Penn Jillette sharing his views on Libertarianism (18 minutes). Despite its reputation as an ideology of selfishness, the shall-we-say eccentric behavior on display at the Libs' national convention, and Gary Johnson's embarrassing lapses on national TV, Libertarianism has some well-thought-out positions that Greens share. Ideally, Greendom also begins with some deep thought about the role that government should play in our lives—and what role we should play in keeping government accountable to us.
What I won't do in this space is reveal my own answers to those questions—not yet, anyway. Some of you who know me probably know how I would answer them. At this moment, I'm more interested in your answers.