For a minute, anyway. Because they are afterthoughts. Compromises. Tweaks. In fact, that’s what the whole Constitution is, along with laws and legalisms generated over the past two hundred plus years. All of it, from Article I to the latest piece of recondite jargon snaking its way through subcommittees, all of it is fine-tuning, filigree, and fretwork.
You don’t need the First Article, or Citizens United, or anything in between, to figure out where we are and see how far that is from where the Founders meant us to be. All you need is the introduction to the Constitution. It’s the Preamble, where they introduced their goals, their rationale, their hopes. And they did it in just over fifty words.
“We the people of the United States, in order to
- form a more perfect union,
- establish justice,
- insure domestic tranquility,
- provide for the common defense,
- promote the general welfare, and
- secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity,
do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
Six bullet-point clauses. You’d have thought they had PowerPoint. Stack that up against news of the day. We’re in shit up to our knees, and the answer is to buy more boots? Hock your grandchildren’s patrimony to money-grubbing rubber merchants?
What are we, crazy or stupid?
Go back and look at the Preamble again. Focus on a few key words. Words like justice, tranquility, welfare, liberty. Where did they go? How did they get lost between the Preamble and today?
Don’t ignore the Constitution, don’t challenge it; don’t even bother to amend it. All I suggest is that, for a couple minutes, we not get bogged down in minutiae, that we look back, and down, and up, at the basics. The framework. The essential ideas and ideals which were designed hold everything together.
To hold us together, not apart.
[Reprise (modified) of a piece from five years ago. Plus ça change.]