The Constitution of the United States was made not merely for the generation that then existed, but for posterity- unlimited, undefined, endless, perpetual posterity. Henry Clay
If there is any virtue to be found in the nation’s current state of affairs it is that many Americans are digging deep into the very roots of the Constitutional principles we have long treasured, defended, trusted – but taken for granted.
The Washington Post is one of many institutions that grappled with the challenge in this recent editorial: https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2017/07/21/are-we-heading-towards-a-constitutional-crisis/?utm_term=.df6844c2dfbe Politico explored similar questions a year ago: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/08/2016-donald-trump-constitution-guide-unconstitutional-freedom-liberty-khan-214139 These are just a sample of scores of articles, even books, that prompt us to face head-on some profound constitutional issues.
Constitution Day, celebrated this year on Sunday, September 17, may inspire us to focus, if briefly, on the basics…The day commemorates the signing and adoption of the Constitution on September 17, 1787. The day is also known as Citizenship Day; the more inclusive name was adopted in 2004 to “recognize all who, by coming of age or by naturalization, have become citizens.”
For too many of us the Constitution is a document to be revered rather than a compact to be lived. Today’s media remind us that the vision of the founders was of a robust democracy based on checks and balances, ultimately the responsibility of the people – us… Jefferson made it abundantly clear when he wrote in his Letters:
I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.”
And “education”, in Jefferson’s mind, is more than school – consider the founder’s concern with the role of a free press….
In the digital age education/learning options abound – as do alternative facts – and a wealth of excuses. Given the premise that the Constitution is based on an informed citizenry, here are some prompts to get started on the quest to better understand our responsibilities – nothing too strenuous here, but enough to get us thinking, viewing and reading with an eye to our role and power:
- http://www.constitutionday.com – a logical starting point with links to resources and activities
- https://www.archives.gov/news/topics/constitution-day – the ultimate resource featuring everything from reproductions of the original documents to good stories about the founding fathers and mothers
- https://www.constitutionfacts.com – Some fun ways to whet your appetite learn more.
- https://tpt.pbslearningmedia.org/collection/teaching-the-constitution/#.WbQK6q2ZOpg – Designed for teachers this guide includes links to specific sections of the Constitution
- https://www.loc.gov/law/help/commemorative-observations/constitution-day.php – For those who want to dig a little deeper
We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution – Abraham Lincoln
National Archives Constitution Day on Twitter:#ConstitutionDay
RELATED POST: https://www.minnpost.com/eric-black-ink/2017/09/why-trump-franken-fight-over-minnesota-judge-bad-omen-our-political-system?utm_source=MinnPost+e-mail+newsletters&utm_campaign=d53a1ca8f3-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_09_08&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_3631302e9c-d53a1ca8f3-123365126
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8g-w2kK9fg&feature=em-lss — I did take time to view this presentation sponsored by the National Archives. Three panelists, all of whom are immigrants, discuss their understanding of the Constitution, their experiences, and their hopes. Interesting, thought-provoking.
- IMPORTANT ADDITION: http://thehill.com/opinion/civil-rights/351043-the-constitution-is-a-parchment-barrier-to-tyranny-if-we-use-it