Thursday, January 6, 2011

GOP-Led House Amends Constitution

Well, sort of. The 'publicans began their majority status in the House by reading aloud what was billed in advance as the entire Constitution. In reality, this total waste of time omitted passages unpleasant to the sensibilities of 21st-century Americans, such as the counting of slaves for census purposes as 3/5 of a person. Yes, the parts they omitted have been replaced by amendment over the centuries. But frankly, I think it's dishonest to omit the bad parts.

Thanks in part to the Tea Party, the Constitution has been reified and deified. Indeed, I suspect any of our Founders would be shocked to see the Constitution-worship engaged in by the House today. The Constitution is not a religious text, graven in stone or at least set down in parchment for all time: it is, as our founders realized it must be, a living document, a basic structure for use in governing day-to-day. Living things are of necessity flexible, mobile and changing. Living things are full of ambiguities and internal contradictions. Such is our Constitution; it follows the classic rule: adapt or die.

It is no surprise to me that the 'publicans want to put their stamp on the Constitution as if they somehow owned the thing. But the document begins "We, the people of the United States..." not "We, the radical rightist remnant of the Republican Party of the United States..." and our founders clearly envisioned rough-and-tumble struggles in the governing process, the Constitution serving as a framework for those struggles.

So let us be clear: this reading has more to do with 'publican messaging than with the Constitution's necessarily fluid content. The truly unpleasant people in the House on both sides of the aisle will learn nothing from this reading; they couldn't care less about a "more perfect Union" or the "Blessings of Liberty." The reading is a waste of time and taxpayers' money.

I am reminded of something attributed to the composer Frederic Chopin, a remark on the music of Franz Schubert: "... the sublime is desecrated when followed by the trivial or commonplace." This reading in the House is surely trivial. Is the Constitution sublime? Again, it is not a religious text, not an object of worship, and regarding it as such "desecrates" what was never intended as sacred. I would greatly prefer that the members of the House spend a bit of time reading a good annotated copy of the Constitution, with attention to the interpretations of scholars, justices and legislators over the ages, than engage in something that is nothing more than a partisan publicity stunt.

AFTERTHOUGHT:  Let me be clear about this: I have nothing against publicans, who do a real service to the public; only against 'publicans, who for the most part do a real disservice to us all.


  1. Isn't that special?

    Why do I want to shout, "Save your Confederate money! The South's gonna rise again!"?

  2. Kay, I suppose Haley Barbour might shout that, but to me, the thought only means that my gorge shall rise again. Paraphrasing Barbara Streisand, "People who own people... are the suckiest people in the world."



• Click here to view existing comments.
• Or enter your new rhyme or reason
in the new comment box here.
• Or click the first Reply link below an existing
comment or reply and type in the
new reply box provided.
• Scrolling manually up and down the page
is also OK.

Static Pages (About, Quotes, etc.)

No Police Like H•lmes