I recently bought a copy of the constitution on Amazon. My reward is an opportunity to review the document on their website. The question seems a bit obscene, given the gravity of the document, as it has asked me to rate it as if it were a motion picture.
Our constitution embodies a foundational understanding of what it means to be an American. It sets forth a rule of law for us all to count on, no matter who may be in office or what should transpire.
The idea that the foundational laws of a country should be set forth in a single document was rather radical at the time it was adopted, 1788. The precedent Articles of Confederation (1781) failed to work out, and shortly it appeared the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts authored by John Adams (1780) seemed to be the most workable frame for government; a bicameral legislature, an executive and an independent judiciary.
Britain, by contrast has a series of documents starting with the Magna Carta (1215), each of which reflects the prevailing concerns of the age.
We now see a great constitutional debate in our mother country, The United Kingdom, whose Prime Minister has proposed what appears to be more of a federation like our own.
This is feasible. The historical documents delineating the role of the monarch, Parliament and the judiciary remains a workable collection of documents and practices subject to change from time to time.
Our Constitution, by contrast, is treated as Holy Writ, authored by now God like men referred to commonly as “the Founding Fathers” making changing it a heresy. James Madison, the documents author, was an extraordinary man. But he was still just a man.
I am beginning to have my doubts the American Revolution was necessary or has really served us in the long term. I have yet to meet any Americans who agree with me. The British generally feel differently of course.
The British seem to be able to get things done. Sure, it is a much smaller country, but troubles here seem to perpetuate due to the weight given to the terms of a document which certainly allows for amendment, but doesn’t seem to be all that flexible until a Supreme Court is willing to either overrule itself or find a new logic to come to a different result.
Take the 2nd Amendment for example. We seem powerless to address the twin and competing needs to curb gun violence while respecting American desire to own and carry firearms. Change is out of reach.
This is our law. It is good thing for any American to read from time to time. One might ponder the number of comma’s in the 2nd Amendment, which might be read as error and tend to cut the Founding Fathers down to a humanity that may lead to America rising from it’s bended knee before this document and addressing the challenges we face today.